Maize and sugar farmers to wait longer for report

A tractor loaded with sugarcane. Probe team has been given more time. [File]

The Agriculture Ministry has for the third time extended time allocated the two committees probing sugar and maize industries in a bid to find lasting solutions to woes that have afflicted the two key sectors.

The two task-forces, which were formed in October last year, were expected to hand in their reports on April 1, but in a public notice issued on Friday, Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, said he had extended the deadline by another 15 days to April 15.

The committees were formed on the directive of President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Ministry to sort out the mess in the two sectors that are perennially riddled with scandals.

The task-forces, made up of senior National and County Government officials, as well as industry players, were initially supposed to give a review on problems the sectors faced as well as make recommendations by December 1, last year.

This, however, extended to January 8, and later to April 1. The committees, which operate separately, have failed to make headway in their investigations as to what ails the two sectors.

In a Gazette notice on Friday, Mr Kiunjuri said he had extended the committees’ terms to April 15.

This even as Uhuru said he was keen on the findings the two committees would have, noting they should be transformative to turn around the two sectors, which have been critical to the economies of Rift Valley and western Kenya regions.

Perennial challenges

“To address the perennial challenges in the sugar and maize sub-sectors, my administration commits to decisively act on the recommendations of the two sectoral task-forces that are slated to report their findings later on this month,” he said during his State of the Nation address on Thursday last week.

“I expect that the teams will propose bold and transformative interventions to revive and sustainably grow these important sub-sectors.”

The Committee on maize is led by Kiunjuri and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago. It was formed following reports that money set aside to pay maize farmers for deliveries to National Cereals and Produce Board was used to pay for maize imported by brokers.

This and other outstanding issues of corruption and loss of public funds have earned the Agriculture CS tongue lashings from the President at least in two occasions.

The task-force looking into the sugar issues is chaired by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and made up of representatives from the millers, farmers, national Government officials and Governors from the sugar belt.

The sugar task-force has had a rough time facing sugar farmers, many of them owed up to Sh2.7 billion in unpaid bills.

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