Maize farmers will not deliver this season’s harvest to the National Cereals and Produce Board until the price has been agreed upon.
Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday said he had formed a task-force to come up with the new price.
The taskforce is led by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and his Trans Nzoia counterpart Patrick Khaemba.
Last week, the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) proposed a price of Sh2,300 per 90-kg bag, which farmers rejected.
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“I am aware the Sh2,300 price is being contested. However, I can confirm the task-force met on Friday and we agreed it should follow up on the issue of prices and come up with a report this week,” Kiunjuri said when he toured North Rift and Western Kenya.
Those opposed to the new price want to know how SFR arrived at it. “They have argued that the cost of producing a 90-kg bag of maize is Sh2,150 but Tegemeo Institute and SFR insist it cost Sh1,544. That is why we set up the team to resolve the dispute,” the CS said.
Some farmers accused the Government of branding them cartels when they toil produce maize. “Why do you refer to us as cartels when we have documents to prove we are genuine farmers and that the grains came from our farms. We want that tag removed because it is hurting us,” said Paul Marus from North Rift.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating activities of some farmers, including those who are allegedly importing maize and selling to NCPB.
Kiunjuri said 62 traders on the EACC list would not be paid until investigations are done. “I call on the rest of the farmers to be patient.”
Moiben MP Silas Tiren and other leaders present as the CS spoke wondered why NCPB took too long to buy this season’s maize. “Why are the prices being subjected to scientific research yet last year farmers were paid without a hitch? This is a ploy to ensure farmers do not benefit from their efforts,” said Mr Tiren.