Maize farmers have been waiting for payment since January after delivering their produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). Besides low pay for delivered grains, the farmers have also been subjected to uncertainty brought about by cheap and unregulated imports, fraud involving payment of millions of shillings to cartels and the unpredictable weather.
Indeed, there are reports of thousands of maize farmersabandoning the crop after many seasons of losses and disappointments. This is unfortunate given that maize is a staple food in Kenya and closely linked to the country’s food security.
It was therefore understandable when President Uhuru Kenyatta swore to punish those who disrupted paymentsto maize farmers a few months ago by siphoning public funds or paying faceless cartels. However, his fury could have come a bit too late when the maize scandal left thousands of genuine farmers struggling to make ends meet.
Where was the President when the NCPB and the Ministry of Agriculture led by Mwangi Kiunjuri botched the routine payments? Since the scandal broke out, how many officials have been successfully prosecuted in court? How much money, of the looted billions, has been recovered?
Going forward, the government and the relevant State agencies must make maize-farming a profitable venture once again. Sound and sustainable policies must be put in place urgently to secure maize-farming and reward farmers appropriately. It can be done. Let the President lead the way and assure farmers of their place in the nation.