NCPB holding 11,000 bags of bad maize

More than 11,000 bags of spoilt maize are lying in two National Cereals and Produce Board silos in Bura and Garsen.  [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

By Paul Gitau

At least 11,876 bags of maize worth more that Sh35 million at two National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) silos in Bura and Garsen towns in Tana River County are suspected to be unfit for human consumption.

This includes 6,526 bags stored at the NCPB depot in Bura, which were declared unfit for human consumption about five years ago.

The maize was said to be contaminated with the deadly aflatoxin, but is yet to be destroyed, according to the Tana River County Food Security Steering Group.

Apparently the maize was not destroyed because no court order was issued to do so.

 The group also noted in its last meeting in Hola town that the fate of 5,350 bags at the NCPB Garsen depot was unclear after County Commissioner Joseph Rotich said he had been told that 200 bags of relief maize allocated to the Tana Delta Sub County could only be collected from the Kilifi depot.

Carry Out Tests

Reports indicate there is suspicion this maize is also contaminated.

“Tana Delta Sub County was recently allocated 200 bags of relief maize but we were told the food can only be collected at the Kilifi town depot, raising questions over the suitability of the maize in the Garsen depot,” Mr Rotich said yesterday.

He was chairing a CSG meeting in his office during which a team from the National Food Security Steering Group presented a report on the county’s food security situation following a three-day assessment in all the three Sub Counties of Tana River County.

The meeting urged public health officials to carry out tests of the maize at the Garsen depot with a view to ascertaining its status. It also recommended the destruction of the contaminated maize at the Bura depot, which can only be done through a court order.

“There is need for a follow up by the relevant departments to know the state of the food in Garsen,” Rotich noted and added: “It may have been stored there for purposes other than relief supplies.”

During the meeting, it was also revealed that no school in Tana River and Tana North Sub Counties had received supplies for the school feeding programme in the second term and that the programme was going on in Tana Delta.

The Economic Adviser to the Tana River County Governor, Mr Mandara Badribu, called for a review of the Food For Assets programme, saying it was a failure in the county as it had not achieved its intended purpose of making the beneficiaries self-reliant.

Distribute Food

“The FFA is a failure because what we are seeing being done by the beneficiaries is a joke. That is why the donor (the World Food Programme) and the lead agency (the Kenya Red Cross Society) should review the programme so it can achieve its intended purpose,” he said. It was also confirmed that no food under the programme had been distributed to beneficiaries in the last four months.

A WFP official explained that there was a problem in April and that the donor does not distribute food in May and June. He added that arrangements were being made to start distributing food for July.