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Munya rules out giving NCPB billions for maize purchase


Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has ruled out more allocation of funds to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for purchase of maize.

Mr Munya said after NCPB exhausted the Sh1.5 billion allocated late last year, which saw it buy 375,000 bags out of a million-bag target, it should leave the rest in the hands of private sector.

The announcement is a blow to the agency that has was counting on payment of debts owed to it by the State to hit its maize purchase target.

“There is no other money that they are going to be allocated after finishing what they had been given…they should leave the rest to private sector,” said Mr Munya.

His remarks come hardly a week after NCPB revealed it had asked the government to pay up some Sh4 billion that is part of a larger Sh18 billion debt it owes the agency, to continue with the maize purchase from farmers.

Mr Munya also accused NCPB of misleading the public on the magnitude of the debt, pointing out that the government was long done with storage of physical stocks, which is one of the services the Board says it provided.

"It is the private sector that should purchase maize and store. And because the government will on the other hand keep money, it can buy from the private sector,” he said.

The absence of the NCPB in purchasing of grain in the market might create a leeway by the private sector to lower prices as the agency is normally used as a benchmark. The board is currently buying a 90kg bag at Sh2,700.

NCPB had divided the Sh1.2 billion to different depots across the country depending on the maize supply potential of the respective regions, and it has so far purchased 375,000 bags.

A recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture showed farmers are holding 18 million bags of maize as they anticipate the price to go up in the future.