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Maize farmers struggle as NCPB price row drags on

NCPB Nakuru
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) premises in Nakuru on May 23, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Maize farmers will have to wait longer before they can deliver their produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) due to a price stalemate.

The NCPB management Thursday confirmed they have not received approval from the government to start buying maize.

“We are still waiting directive from the government on when to start buying maize from farmers and at what price,” disclosed Titus Maiyo, the NCPB Corporate affairs manager.

The board, he said has been holding series of sensitisation seminars for its staff across the country in preparation to buy maize from farmers.

The farmers have rejected the Sh2,300 per 90 kilogramme bag set by the Ministry of Agriculture terming it as too low to earn any profit.

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The board offered Sh3,200 per 90 kilogramme bag last year but suspended buying the produce after it exhausted funds.

In the country's food basket North Rift region, maize farmers -- who are now preparing for the next planting season -- now face challenges in selling the produce harvested in October last year.

Middlemen have taken advantage of the situation, offering low prices for the grain.

Maize worth millions

Some of the grain growers are unable to pay fees for their children despite holding maize stock worth millions of shillings.

On Thursday, the poor millionaires said most of the children risk dropping out of school unless they secure steady market to enable them raise fees and prepare for this season planting .

“We have no option but to let the children stay at home until we get market to sell the maize and raise money the school fees,” said Ann Too from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.

“The government needs to be serious in tacking problems facing the agriculture sector including offering attractive prices for our crops to enables meet basic needs including education for our children,” said Joshua Kosgei from Saos, Nandi County.

Maize prices in North Rift region have plummeted to as low as Sh1,400 a bag.

The prices could drop further as the farmers rush to sell to pay fees to take their children to school and invest in the next crop.

Auction notice

The disillusioned farmers said some creditors have issued notices to auction their properties to recover loans they secure to purchase farm inputs for the last two seasons.

“Some of the financial institutions have issued demand notices after we defaulted in servicing the loans after failing to secure market for our maize produce,” said David Kosgei from Moi’s Bridge, Uasin Gishu County.

Some private millers have opened buying centres in Eldoret, with Kitui Millers and Unga Limited offering Sh1,700 and Sh1,800 respectively per 90-kg bag.

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