We deserve better pay this time around, maize farmers tell State

Maize farmers have asked the Government to pay them better for produce delivered this season.

Maize farmers have asked the Government to pay them better for produce delivered this season.

Speaking during a consultative meeting in Eldoret town yesterday, the farmers urged the Government to pay Sh3,600 for a 90kg bag of maize up from the Sh3,200 paid last season.

The farmers were drawn from Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet counties and were addressing officials from the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) board.

The farmers complained that despite agriculture being regarded as the backbone of the economy, little had been done to motivate them to increase production.

SEE ALSO :Migori farmers want State to buy local maize

Local politicians were also blamed for doing little to champion their needs.

“Farmers are each year taken in circles by the Government and politicians. All farmers - crop and diary - are suffering," said John Sang, a maize farmer from Ziwa in Uasin Gishu County.

“The cost of production for maize now stands at Sh60,000 per acre. Considering the price for a 90kg bag is less than Sh3,500, there is little profits left."

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Mr Sang added that little had been done to protect farmers in a liberalised agricultural sector. He said all sorts of imports had flooded the local market and stifled local producers.

Willy Kibet, another farmer, said the vagaries of weather, pests and diseases had posed a great threat on food production.

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“This year, for example, a majority of farmers planted their crops twice and others thrice after the rains failed. There was no subsidised fertilizer. All this affected production,” said Mr Kibet.

SFR Chairman Noah Wekesa said the Government's focus was to safeguard the interest of farmers. He said his board would hold meetings in other maize growing regions that would inform how the price of maize would be set.

"We are sure that the Government will buy at least 1 million bags of maize this year,” said Dr Wekesa.

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Maize farmersEldoretUasin Gishu