New maize rules stir confusion

Farmers are now stranded with nowhere to take their produce after the government issued a notice to suspend its purchase. [Photo by Harun Wathari/Standard]
Farmers in the South Rift are stranded with their maize after the Ministry of Agriculture suspended the purchase of the produce indefinitely.

The farmers have been selling maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) under the strategic grain reserve programme that was rolled out by the national government last November.

The notice of suspension was issued by NCPB yesterday morning, leaving farmers stuck with thousands of bags outside the board's depot in Nakuru.

“Further to instructions from our head office, purchase of maize has been suspended with immediate effect,” read the notice.

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The cereal manager, Alfred Korir, said farmers were required to pick up new forms from the ministry, which should be signed by respective county directors for verification.

New rules

Mr Korir said the forms, indicating where individuals were farming, should be handed to NCPB. The forms should have stamps from all the relevant authorities for clarity and verification.

“Farmers shall follow all the required procedures to have their produce approved,” said Korir.

However, he acknowledged that hundreds of farmers had been camping at NCPB, waiting for their produce to be off-loaded.

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“It is true that farmers have been waiting at the depots to have their produce offloaded, but now we are not taking the maize until the directive is followed,” said Korir.

The Standard found more than 200 lorries queuing at the board's depot.

Some farmers said they had been waiting to offload their cargo for more than two weeks.

Stranded farmers

"I had camped at the North Rift NCPB for almost two weeks and now I do not know where to take the produce,” said Richard Telgut, who had 4,000 bags.

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Mr Telgut said farmers would suffer huge losses if the Government failed to buy their produce.

Other farmers protested against the sudden decision, which they said had caught them by surprise.

"The Government should have notified us on time. We have incurred expenses to have the produce transported here, only to be told there is no market,” said Abigael Kosgei from Rongai sub-county, who was waiting to offload 3,000 bags.

Paul Karanja said he has not been able to plough his eight-acre farm in Njoro for lack of finances.

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