A Senate session on the maize crisis turned emotional yesterday as farmers accused their leaders for ignoring their plight.
The farmers confronted the senators, saying their concerns, including timely payment for grain supplies to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and access to subsidies, had not been addressed.
During the meeting at the Uasin Gishu County hall, farmers from the region sought assurance from the senators that their complaints would be addressed and lasting solutions found.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi was the first to arrive at the hall accompanied by Moiben MP Silas Tiren. They found the farmers complaining about non-payment for maize supplies to NCPB over eight months ago.
The farmers had vowed to take on their leaders, accusing them of poor representation and failure to press the Government to listen to maize producers, who contribute to the country’s food security.
Farmers said it was only Mr Tiren who was articulating issues affecting them despite the tribulations that saw him kicked out of the parliamentary committee chairmanship early this year.
The fully packed hall chanted “Pesa! Mahindi!” (Money! Maize!) as Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar and her Bungoma colleague, Moses Wetang’ula arrived.
Gideon said he was touched by the problems facing the cereals sector and in particular maize.
“I was happy when Kamar and Wetang’ula came up with the ad hoc committee. Something should be done to address the challenges facing farmers once and for all because leaders should not be singing one thing all the time,” said the Baringo senator.
And Gideon, when presenting his memorandum, said farmers should be paid promptly for supplies, including any arrears.
“Doors should be open to farmers with up to 20 bags of maize to sell their produce to the NCPB stores. There should also be minimum price guarantee for farm produce,” he added.
Gideon added that maize buying centres in the proximity of producers should be established to enable farmers to deliver with ease and curb cartels.
“Top Government officials have toured this region, we have held meetings with MPs but maize farmers are still in deep problems. Is the Senate going to solve this? Who are the cartels in this sector behind importation of maize and stocking in NCPB stores?” asked Tom Korgoren, a local farmer.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen was shouted down by the charged farmers, who demanded to know what local leaders had done to address their concerns.