The government has ordered termination of all leases of the National and Cereals Produce Board (NCPB) depots in a bid to create space for the purchase of the new grain.
The move will drastically reduce the transport cost of transferring maize from one store to another by 70 per cent.
NCPB managers have been leasing some of the storage facilities to private businesspeople forcing them to transfer grains to other silos with space.
“We cannot continue with this trend. Why should we be forced to use taxpayers’ money to pay transporters to transfer our maize from some of our silos to others and save space for private businesspeople?” posed Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri when he toured NCPB silos in North Rift and Nyanza last week.
Following a Senate directive, the CS is touring NCPB stores across the country to ascertain the state of produce at the facilities and other challenges facing the granaries.
Mr Kiunjuri said the government is forced to use a lot of money in paying transporters than what it gets from leasing the warehouses.
“No single bag of maize will be moved from one silo to another. After we cancel the leases, we will use that space to store the new produce that we will purchase from farmers,” he said.
Mr Kiunjuri said the discolouration of maize could have been occasioned by keeping the grain in silos for long, adding that a comprehensive report on the matter shall be released after one week.
According to a report on safety of maize at NCPB depots countrywide conducted by Kenya Bureau Of Standards (Kebs), 60 per cent of the grains are discoloured and could be unfit for human consumption.
NCPB has 110 stores countrywide with a capacity to hold 21.52 million bags. The board also has silos in the grain basket region and Nairobi with a storage capacity of 3.1 million bags excluding Cypress Bins of about 1.5 million 90kg bags.
However, only Kenya Seeds will continue to occupy the stores it has leased from NCPB in Kitale.
“Kenya Seeds is a special client in a manner that it manufactures seeds for the country so it requires ample space to store its products,” said the CS.
Meanwhile, purchase of the new crop this season will be digitalised. Although maize will be bought at aggregated centres, the entire process will be digitalised, according to Mr Kiunjuri.
The CS said chiefs and county agricultural extension officers will carry out vetting of farmers at the buying centres.
“We want to totally avoid repeating the last mistake of paying traders rather than farmers, and through use of local administration, we can easily eradicate unscrupulous farmers,” he said.
However, the first priority will be given to co-operatives which will also ease distribution of fertiliser.