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Economy

Farmers’ relief as Sh1.3bn released for maize buying

Workers at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret offload maize delivered by farmers. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA
Workers at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret offload maize delivered by farmers. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Maize farmers will continue to receive prompt payment for deliveries to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) after the Treasury wired an additional Sh1.3 billion to the agency.

The board had on Monday almost exhausted the initial Sh1.12 billion offered to it in late December for maize buying, exposing farmers to middlemen who pay poorly.

“We have received the second allotment and the purchasing is moving smoothly in the depots in all regions,” NCPB managing director Newton Terer said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The board had bought maize worth Sh865 million by Sunday, mainly from farmers in the North Rift and western Kenya. Sh240 million had been used to settle farmers dues on Tuesday morning.

There were fears that delays in release of more cash would expose farmers to middlemen who recently upped the prices to Sh1,800 following entry of NCPB in the market late last month.

The middlemen were in November paying Sh1,200 for the 90kg bag, from Sh3,800 in May.

The cash released is part of the Sh2.7 billion that the Treasury had set aside for purchase of maize in the current financial year. Treasury owes the board Sh300 million after this latest disbursement.

NCPB is paying Sh2,300 and a Sh500 rebate per 90kg bag of maize and Sh1,275 and Sh278 rebate for the 50kg bag. The rebate will be paid later.

The presence of NCPB in the market helps to regulate the prices of the grain and cuts the influence of brokers.

NCPB had by Sunday bought 309,708 bags in the 90kg package, which is less than half the targeted one million bags targeted to replenish the strategic grain reserves that were depleted last year.

Farmers reckon that the allocation by Treasury is inadequate.

“The money is not enough to mop up all the new maize. This region only produces about eight million bags and the money will not be enough, with thousands of farmers waiting to sell their produce,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said Wednesday.

Wednesday long queues stretching for kilometres formed at major depots of Eldoret and Moi’s Bridge.

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