Farmers want NCPB to allow them store grain in empty depots

Newton Terer, the National Cereals and Produce Board managing director. PHOTO | FILE
Newton Terer, the National Cereals and Produce Board managing director. PHOTO | FILE 

Farmers in the North Rift have asked the National Cereals and Produce Board to allow them store grain in empty depots to cushion them against losses as rain pounds the region.

“We are happy with the decision by the government to increase grain prices. But we want to appeal to NCPB to allow farmers to stock their produce in empty stores,” said Musa Barno, a Kenya National Farmers Federation of Agricultural Producers branch chairman. Heavy rain during harvesting rots away grain.

“As farmers, we fear that we will lose our wheat to the rains,” he added.

Victoria Tarus, the Uasin Gishu County Agriculture chief officer, Thursday said that most wheat farmers were harvesting their crop.

“We have conducted a survey, it is just a few farmers who have harvested wheat. We hope that the rains will drastically reduce to allow farmers to harvest,” she said.

Last week the government increased the price of a 90kg bag of maize from Sh2,300 to Sh2,800 and announced that NCPB will buy a similar bag of wheat at Sh3,000. 

The farmers also fear that the level of aflatoxin in maize could go up with the rise in moisture content should the heavy rains continue pounding the region.

Mr Kipkorir Menjo, the Kenya Farmers Association director, urged the government to provide mobile maize dryer services.

“Last year they promised to waiver maize drying fees at NCPB stores but it came late when most farmers had harvested. We urge them to provide the service early,” he said. 

The maize drying fee is Sh34 per bag. The recommended moisture content for the produce is 13.5oC. Last year the Agriculture ministry promised to waive the drying fee.

However, NCPB boss Newton Terer said that the fee will stay. “We are an agency of the government in business. We don’t have any problem, the decision on lies with the ministry,” Mr Terer said.