No amount of threats from maize cartels will destruct me, Kuttuny says

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri at National Cereals and Produce Board silos in Kisumu on November 13,2018. Kiunjuri was not happy with the management of the silos over the coloration of the maize in their custody.(Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

The cartels linked to the maize scandal have started importing fertiliser to rake in huge profits, Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny has claimed.

Mr Kuttuny asked President Uhuru Kenyatta not to let the Government buy fertiliser that has been shipped in by the cartels.

The MP alleged that influential individuals working with Government officials had shipped in huge consignments of fertiliser using public money.

Kuttuny claimed the cartels responsible for the mess at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) had strategically positioned themselves to reap from the fertiliser business as farmers prepared for the next planting season early next year.

“The same cartels have successfully plotted and diverted funds meant to pay maize farmers to import the fertiliser in order to pocket huge profits,” he claimed.

Speaking at Yuya Primary School in his constituency when he launched a football tournament on Saturday, Kuttuny said nothing would stop him from championing the interests of farmers.

He said he was not ready to serve as a political puppet of some people when farmers, mostly his electorate, continued to suffer.

“I will only support a government and leaders that support the farmer. I will not again make the mistake of blindly backing leaders who are not ready to improve the welfare of farmers.”

He dismissed calls by Deputy President William Ruto that farmers shift to better paying crops such as avocado, terming them “misplaced”.

The lawmaker insisted that farmers would not deliver their harvest to the NCPB unless they were paid Sh3,600 per 90kg bag.

He asked the State to investigate companies linked to influential individuals involved in the maize scam.

Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut asked the State to consider substituting the farm input subsidy programme with better producer prices for maize farmers.

He suggested that the State suspend the importation of subsidised fertiliser and instead redirect funds meant for the purchase of the cereal by the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) to enhance the price maize to Sh3,600 a bag.

“I am proposing that the State, through SFR, enter into a policy anchored on a contract with farmers whose terms of reference should include purchase of local products before opting for maize imports,” he said.

Speaking separately, Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno was in agreement with the proposal, saying the State should be at the forefront in making it clear how much grain was required before farmers embarked on planting.

“Farmers should be told by the State the number of bags it wants and the prices at the end of the year so they can be at liberty to either plant or not or seek other markets in advance,” Mr Chemno said.

Elsewhere, Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli has asked the State to act with speed and prosecute the individuals behind the maize crisis.

Face the law

Speaking in Eldoret during a graduation ceremony at Nehema Institute, Mr Atwoli said those whose names were mentioned by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should face the law and have their companies de-listed.

Atwoli took issue with the recent price announced by the Agriculture ministry that put the price of 90kg bag of maize at Sh2,300.

“How can the State insist that the price is Sh2,300 yet the cost of production of one bag is Sh4,000? Where will farmers get money to even pay their children’s fees?” he asked.

He said the current crisis in the maize sector was a result of poor leadership.

[Osinde Obare, Silah Koskei, Silah Koskei and Edward Kosut]  

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