Farmers can now access loans from banks using warehouse receipts following the official launch of the Warehouse Receipting System (WRS) as the Agriculture ministry moves to lockout middlemen.
The launch comes as a boost to farmers who have just completed maize harvesting for the main season as they now have an opportunity to store their produce under the ideal conditions to avoid post-harvest losses associated with poor storage.
Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya, who launched the WRS scheme at one of the approved warehouse stores at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depot in Kitale on Thursday said the move is key to taming cartels.
“We have now brought to an end the losses that the cartels have subjected farmers to as most of them have been selling their crop in a hurry in order to meet their immediate financial needs,” said Mr Munya.
He asked farmers to deposit their crop at the Warehouse Receipting System for safe storage as they wait for the prices to be in their favour, urging them not to sell their produce to middlemen.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said the agency has five stores that have been licensed and approved for the storage of maize in Kitale, Eldoret Meru, Nakuru and Nairobi.
He added that NCPB has placed aflatoxin testing machines in each of the depots that will help in ensuring that the grain meets the required stands.
Farmers will be required to deposit their maize at a fee in certified warehouses and get issued with receipts before selling it at a later date, which is a departure from a long-standing tradition where the State has been buying the produce.
This move will help farmers to avoid middlemen who offer rock bottom prices for their produce at a time when all growers are jostling to sell their crop in order to meet their daily needs such as paying school fees or buying farm inputs.
Parliament passed the Warehouse Receipt Systems Act 2019 in June 2019 providing a legal as well as the regulatory framework for development and regulation of WRS and establishment of its council.
WRS is meant to discourage farmers from storing the produce in their own houses where they run the risk of having it go to waste as they do not have proper storage facilities.