Confusion as maize farmers protest fresh vetting

Jesse Maisz a farmer in Uasin Gishu addresses the press in Eldoret where farmers issued a sevemn day ultimatum to the government to fast track payment of dues owed to farmers from the supply of maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). [File, Standard]

National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) officials reported to work yesterday to issue vetting forms for the Sh1.4 billion payment.

About 300 farmers and their representatives from Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Kitale, Trans Nzoia, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi met in Eldoret on Monday afternoon to protest at the new requirements.

Among the new conditions is that claim forms must be certified by area chiefs and county/sub-county agricultural officers. Claimants are required to present themselves from today to the nearest NCPB depots with original documents and three copies of their national ID, Kenya Revenue Authority PIN certificate and passport photos (certified by the area chief).

The requirements are contained in a newspaper advertisement by the Ministry of Devolution.

Also required are weighbridge ticket, original delivery note, recipient's bank details and any confirmation of part payment for the delivery. All the documents must be attached to the duly completed and signed claim form.

“All maize farmers who delivered their maize to NCPB should visit respective depots from Monday to collect claim forms. Each farmer must fill a single claim form listing all the deliveries and respective depots at which deliveries were made,” read the advert.

The protesting farmers vowed not to fill in the forms and instead urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene, saying the eight-month wait for their dues had subjected them to financial problems.

“There must be a hidden agenda. I have been supplying my produce since 1994 but have never been frustrated like this year. What we need is payment,” said Bernard Maina, a farmer from Moi's Bridge.

He added: “Farmers were initially told Sh1.9 billion had been released but we did not see the funds. They again told us about Sh1.4 billion before the latest announcement. Farmers have been frustrated for the past eight months and the Government should be considerate and pay them."

Farmers' representatives - Joseph Rotich (Trans Nzoia) Kipkorir Menjo (director, Kenya Farmers Association), Kimutai Kolum (Uasin Gishu) and Lawrence Mungai (Nakuru) - said farmers were vetted when they acquired subsidised fertiliser and while delivering produce to the board.

“We are giving the Government one week to pay us, otherwise we shall resort to demonstrations in urban centres so that our cries can be heard,” said Mr Kolum.

Moiben MP Silas Tiren said the farmers were grateful for the Sh1.4 billion that was said to have been released, but that they had waited for too long.

“We urge President Uhuru to personally intervene so that farmers can receive their dues without any further delay. Another process of vetting is an unnecessary frustration to farmers,” said the MP.

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