State agency urges farmers to deliver grain to depot and promises to pay them in time.
Farmers in the North Rift are shunning the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots and delivering maize to traders owing to prompt pay and competitive prices offered.
The move has seen most depots in the region register minimal queues of trucks loaded with maize waiting to deliver the produce.
This is a contrast to previous months, when farmers were forced to camp outside various NCPB depots due to tedious vetting processes.
“We understand the market prices have gone up, warranting most farmers to seek alternative buyers instead of bringing their grain to the depots,” said NCPB North Rift Regional Manager Gilbert Rotich.
Out of the expected 2 million bags by Strategic Food Reserve, NCPB depots in the region have already purchased 639,349 bags of maize, each weighing 50 kilogrammes.
“The bags are worth Sh890 million and they are a representation of farmers who delivered their produce up to March 3, this year,” added Mr Rotich.
According to Rotich, they have been able to pay Sh471 million to farmers who have delivered their grain. They have promised to pay the balance later.
“We are optimistic that by the end of this week we will have received the remaining amount of money so that farmers do not face financial challenges as planting season commences,” he said.
He challenged farmers to deliver their grain to the depot, insisting that they would be paid in time.
However, farmers are currently selling their maize to private traders at between Sh2,200 and Sh2,500 per 90-kilogramme bag.
They argue that due to high demand for the grain, millers and other market players are at the grassroots buying it at better price.
“The reason as to why supply has gone down is because we are receiving buyers at our homesteads at a cost of Sh2,500 per bag. This has made it easy for us because of their prompt pay,” said Stephen Kiplagat, a farmer from Kesses.
Kimutai Kolum, another farmer, cited frustrations of long queues as one of the key reasons for shunning NCPB depots.
“Initially, farmers were being forced to park their tractors on queues for more than a month waiting to deliver their grain,” he said.
Prices in areas such as Kisumu and Kakamega stand at Sh2,500 while in Bungoma it is Sh2,450. In Uasin Gishu, it ranges from Sh2,200 to Sh2,500 per bag.
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