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Economy

NCPB opens maize dryers in bid to cut post-harvest losses

Workers at the NCPB Eldoret depot in March
Workers at the NCPB Eldoret depot in March 2018. Farmers will pay Sh39.40 per moisture drop per bag for the dryers. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA  

Maize growers across the country got relief after National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) yielded to pleas to allow them access to its dryers to dry their grain.

NCPB said the move will cushion farmers from post-harvest losses as heavy rainfall continues pounding various parts of the country.

“We have allowed the growers to use the dryers, but they will pay Sh39.40 per moisture drop per bag. We have realised that most of them had a challenge in drying their grains and this will alleviate the situation,” NCPB Corporate Affairs manager Titus Maiyo said. He added the board will also allow farmers to store their grains at their stores.

“But the storage option is not mandatory since some farmers may want to take back their grains after drying. We have not yet opened grain purchasing this season, since we are still waiting for instructions from government,” said Mr Maiyo.

Farmers welcomed the move, but called on the government to consider waiving the drying charges. Normally, farmers who take maize to NCPB have their grain dried at Sh30 per bag for every drop of one percent of moisture in a bag. Maize is normally dried to 13.5 percent for each bag to avoid rotting and aflatoxin contamination.

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“The move is welcome since farmers were staring at post-harvest losses. We urge the board to engage the farmers on charges and the issue of how long they can store the grains in the board’s silos,” said Kipkorir Menjo, a Kenya Farmers Association official.

Last Friday, farmers lobby Cereal Growers Association (CGA) appealed to the government to direct the NCPB to allow cereal growers to use its dryers and offer storage services following heavy rains that they said had subjected them to great losses. CGA chief executive officer Anthony Kioko said farmers are grappling with bad weather following prolonged rains that has hampered harvesting of the main crop in the North Rift.

“We want NCPB stores to be made available to farmers at this time when there is rain in order to save them from losses,” said Mr Kioko.

The Strategic Food Reserve announced last month that they will not be setting the price for purchasing maize this year, as it has been the tradition, meaning that the NCPB stores will remain shut for lack of activities. This means, however, that the NCPB is in a position to offer temporary storage facility for farmers affected by the rains.

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