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Maize farmers in North Rift to be paid Sh1.4bn from Monday

By Jacob Ngetich and Titus Too | September 29th 2018
Senators Professor Margaret Kamar (centre) and Samson Cherargei (second right), sample maize at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Eldoret branch. [Peter Ochieng/Standard]

Maize farmers in the North Rift will from Monday next week begin receiving Sh1.4 billion payment after the cereals board completed verification of deserving beneficiaries.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said 900 farmers had been cleared for payment.

“We have verified all the 1,154 farmers who were asked to fill up the verification forms, 1,140 farmers returned the forms successfully, 900 were cleared,” said Wamalwa.

He said 226 farmers have been recommended for investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) with a possibility of prosecution if it emerges that they made claims fraudulently.

“We have the possibility of preferring charges if they were unscrupulous farmers or brokers who were trying to reap where they did not sow,” said Wamalwa.

He said the maize farmers would have been paid from last week but the Board of Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) that is supposed to make the payment had a quorum hitch.

The board’s term was renewed via a Gazette Notice on Friday.

Wamalwa said the board will be deliberate on how to make the payment. He said 514 farmers owed Sh2 million and below will be paid a total of Sh466 million and 386 farmers would be paid later.

“Kiunjuri (Agriculture CS Mwangi) would give a brief of how the payment would be made next week. Everyone who delivered maize will be paid,” said Wamalwa.

A month ago, National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Eldoret branch manager and seven farmers were charged over the Sh5.6 billion scandal after suspicious payments were made to a small group of farmers.

Wamalwa’s statement comes at a time the Senate ad hoc committee on maize crisis concluded public hearings in North Rift region, with farmers anticipating lasting solutions to their woes even with rife fears of drastic dip in producer prices after the current crop season.

Maize producers presented detailed written and oral memo to the committee co-chaired by Senator Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu) and Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) that held forums in concurrence with the inaugural Senate sitting in Uasin Gishu County.

Farmers with challenges ranging from delayed pay, irregular supply of inputs, strenuous vetting processes, among others, expressed their plight during forums in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and Nandi.

The committee also met County Executive Committee members in charge of Agriculture from the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) and North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) counties.

Although farmers trust the Senate will formulate new policies that will make the sector more vibrant and profitable in future, their concern is on prices for produce to be harvested from October as they continue to dip further, with a 90 kg bag currently retailing at only Sh900 in Eldoret.

Their worry has been compounded by the fact that there were no allocations towards purchase of SFRs in the current budget.

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