Rift farmers fault NCPB on cost of waiting to deliver maize

Maize farmers in the North Rift region want the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to fast track receiving of their produce to cushion them from costs incurred while on the queue.

On Tuesday, there were long queues of lorries and tractors loaded with sacks of the grain at the NCPB’s Eldoret depot, as farmers began delivery of their produce. 

Mr Noah Tum, a farmer from Ilula in Uasin-Gishu County, said they would incur major losses due to the slow pace at which NCPB officials were receiving their grain.

“I spend Sh1,300 a day to pay the lorry driver and the turnboy who have transported my maize to NCPB. The driver receives Sh800 and his turnboy Sh500 per day,” he said.

“We will spend a lot of cash if these people are kept waiting. We are, therefore, asking those receiving our produce to be fast. This will also save us the agony of having to sleep in trucks every day.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, among other stringent measures to rein in middlemen, recently directed farmers to register in their respective counties before delivering produce.

Kimutai Kolum, another farmer, said the vetting process was tight as the board opened its doors on Wednesday for the purchase of the maize grains.

“I registered at the county offices on Monday. What they are doing is really encouraging. However, we have asked the management to purchase wheat once in week as some of the farmers still have them,” he said.

Uasin Gishu County director of Agriculture Joseph Cheboi said the vetting process was ongoing but declined to give the number of farmers registered.

“We started the documentation process last week. We cannot give the number right now,” said Dr Cheboi.

In the neighbouring Trans-Nzoia County, Ms Mary Nzomo, the chief officer in-charge of Agriculture, said they were using the list of the farmers who bought fertiliser from the NCPB.  

“This list shows the number of bags the farmers purchased. We are, however, updating it because not all the farmers bought the farm input this season,” she said.

“This is a great move as it will ensure that only genuine farmers benefit and lock out brokers from selling the produce.”

The NCPB seeks to buy more than two million bags from local farmers to replenish the National Strategic Food Reserve.

The board is buying a 90-kilogramme bag of maize at Sh3,000 up from Sh2,300 after Deputy President William Ruto announced the new prices last month.

Last month, farmers protested in Eldoret town demanding an increase in maize prices.