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Food crisis fears as farmers lack funds to cultivate their farms

By Titus Too and Silah Koskei | January 30th 2019 at 11:50:00 GMT +0300

Barely two months to the onset of next planting season, maize farmers  are yet to receive subsidised fertilizer promised by the Government.

In what could lead to a food crisis in the country, most farmers in the North Rift, the country's bread basket, are also yet to prepare their farms ahead of long rain season that expected to begin in March.

The farmers are still stuck with tonnes of maize currently locked out of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores.

A number of farmers interviewed by the Standard in Uasin Gishu said they were fast running out of options because their money was tied to the unsold maize stocks leaving them with no alternative resources to prepare for the next planting season.

“If the State lacks funds, we should be told to seek alternative market for our produce so that we prepare our farms for the next season,” said John Kirwa, a farmer from Turbo.

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The government had promised to start buying produce at Sh2, 500. But for the last 10 days, farmers have been queuing outside NCPB depots which still remain closed. And as the next planting season approaches, desperation is kicking in.

“I cultivate 98 acres for maize but I have no money to prepare my farm ahead of the coming planting season. All my investment is still in the queue outside NCPB," said Noah Kipkoech.

Vetting forms

Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture dispatched vetting forms to be used in identifying genuine farmers. Sources in the board say it is still waiting for the process to conclude.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri also announced that farmers should be prepared to buy fertilisers from alternatives outlets if the State subsidised input failed to arrive on time.

Kiunjuri attributed the delay to procurement challenges.

But the farmers say they cannot afford to buy fertilisers from private outlets and might have to reduce acreage under maize in the March season.

"With these challenges, I plan to lower maize farming acreage from 50 to 20 acres,” said Joel Kogo

The farmers blamed politics and corruption for the challenges facing the sector, saying these had disrupted the region's farming calendar and provided a leeway for manipulation of prices.

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