Farmers confront Budget committee over fertiliser subsidy

National Assembly budget and appropriation committee vice chairman Moses Lessonet speaks in Eldoret County Hall.
Angry farmers confronted the parliamentary budget team demanding to know why no money has been allocated for subsidised fertiliser in this year’s budget proposals.

The National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee was in Eldoret on Tuesday for a public consultation meeting on the 2019/20.

During the daylong meeting at the County Hall, farmers expressed their frustration with the Government, accusing it of crippling an already ailing maize sector by scrapping the fertiliser subsidy.

The committee faced similar concerns on Monday in Kitale during a separate public participation meeting with more farmers questioning the Government’s commitment to supporting the country’s grain basket.

SEE ALSO :Maize and sugar farmers to wait longer for report

“We came to this meeting hoping that our Government would have something for the maize sector, but we are shocked to know that we were invited to rubber-stamp a budget that only favours coffee and miraa farmers,” said Patrice Chepkwony, a maize farmer from Moiben Constituency.

The farmers questioned why very little had been allocated to the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) for farmers to borrow loans.

They accused leaders from the North Rift of not championing their interests in Parliament.

Lawmakers from the region, except Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei, gave the budget consultative meeting a wide berth.

Kemboi Sossio, a retired teacher-turned-maize farmer, said farmers in the region had been pushed into poverty by poor Government policies.

SEE ALSO :Maize prices shoot in Rift as demand rises

“Maize farming has made me poor in recent years,” said the visibly agitated farmer from Kesses Constituency.

Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo said the budget proposals failed to honour the Maputo Declaration of 2003, which recommended that 10 per cent of the total budget be allocated to agriculture. Kenya is a signatory to the declaration.

“We have numerous petitions to Parliament but no action has been taken,” said Mr Menjo.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said the budget was silent on funds for the National and Cereals Produce Board and the Strategic Food Reserve signaling lack of commitment to support farmers.

In Kakamega, residents demanded a larger budget allocation for stalled projects, including the expansion of Kakamega Airstrip and extra bailout cash for the ailing Mumias Sugar Company.

SEE ALSO :MPs warn on maize importation

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Maize farmersBudgetSubsidised fertiliser