The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has bought 1.6 million bags of maize estimated at Sh5.12 billion to replenish the country’s strategic grain reserve as farmers rush to deliver the produce ahead of the next planting season.
The deliveries have been boosted by prompt payments of Sh3,200 per 90kg bag, up from Sh3,000 last year, and waiving of drying fees. The board has so far paid out Sh2.6 billion as more farmers deliver the produce due to the attractive price compared to Sh2,400 offered by middlemen.
“We shall be making payments for maize deliveries as we receive funds from the government but the process is so far encouraging,” said Mr Titus Maiyo, the NCPB corporate affairs manager.
“Policy inspectors have been deployed to our buying centres to ensure that the imported subsidised maize or crop from neighbouring countries do not end up in our stores,” he said.
Meanwhile, leaders from the North Rift have petitioned the government to release funds to NCPB for prompt payment of maize deliveries.
Led by Moiben MP Silas Tiren, who is also the National Assembly Agriculture Committee chairman, the leaders decried the slow payment of farmers.
“The last time we had a meeting with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, it was agreed that a farmer be paid within 24 hours of delivery which has not been honoured,” said Mr Tiren.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany echoed the sentiments saying that farmers should be paid early as they depend on the produce to meet their basic needs and invest in the next crop. However, the NCPB management said measures have been put in place to buy the crop in its centres and silos countrywide.
“We are encouraging farmers in maize growing areas of the North Rift region to consider delivering the crop to NCPB depots in Bungoma, Kisumu and Nakuru to ease congestion,” said Mr Maiyo.