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Maize farmers in South Rift protest new vetting regulations by government

By Mercy Kahenda | Published Fri, August 24th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 23rd 2018 at 23:04 GMT +3
Farmers who supplied maize produce to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) protest at South Rift deport on August 22, 2018. [Harun Wathari /Standard]

About 500 farmers protested at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores yesterday over non-payment of their dues, and the new conditions set for maize suppliers.

Led by Mark Chelimo, the farmers complained that the delayed pay had affected farming activities and a majority of them could not afford farm inputs.

They said the Government owed them Sh500 million for the maize they supplied last year and early this year.

The farmers also complained that the Government was asking them to provide information that it already had, under its new vetting process.

“Farmers have been waiting to receive pay after supplying their produce to the cereals, but instead of Government disbursing money, each single day, new regulations crop up slowing the payment process,” said Mr Chelimo.

Chelimo supplied 1,200 bags of maize in February and is still waiting to be paid Sh5 million.

Food security

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Lucy Njeri, who supplied 1,400 bags of maize to NCPB, is also yet to receive her pay.

“The exercise of vetting farmers is politically motivated to promote traders and not genuine farmers in the country. The Government should prioritise genuine farmers in its plan of attaining food security,” said NCPB.

Under the new vetting process, farmers are supposed to, among other things, fill forms which must be signed by county agricultural officers and their chiefs.

Further, farmers are also supposed to attach title deeds or lease agreements for land where they produced maize. The move is meant to root out unscrupulous traders.

Chelimo said it was unfair for the Government to come up with new regulations "whenever they demand pay".

“The Government seems reluctant to address issues affecting maize farmers. They already have the details they are asking for,” he said.

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