Firms demand Sh1b from grain agency

National Cereals and Produce Board. [File, Standard]
Firms contracted to transport maize by the National Cereals and Produce Board are demanding more than Sh1 billion.

The companies, which include those that transported maize imported from Uganda and Mexico last year, have gone without pay for close to 20 months.

One of their representatives, Isaac Asiyo, said the transporters risked defaulting on their loans, with some claiming they had received notices from financial institutions that their vehicles would be repossessed.

Food crisis

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“We have been seeking an audience with nearly all the concerned offices but nothing meaningful has happened. We are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene on our behalf to hasten the payment process,” said Mr Asiyo as the transporters marched to board’s offices in Nairobi’s Industrial Area on Monday.

The Government last year imported six million 90kg bags of maize from Mexico, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia and other destinations to tame an acute food crisis that followed the prolonged drought.

The Devolution and Agriculture ministries confirmed that various players, including smallholder farmers, transporters and millers, had yet to be paid, but added that they would be paid when funds were available.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the Government was fast-tracking the payment of debts, with small-scale farmers set to be paid in the next 21 days.

The farmers are owed Sh1.4 billion.

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The Government has also not paid millers Sh2.24 billion for the maize flour subsidy programme.

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