Cereal farmers in the North Rift region have petitioned the government to handover the National Cereals and Produce Board's (NCPB) functions to the devolved units.
They say de-centralisation of the agency will safeguard it from mismanagement of funds meant to pay them for their produce and distribution of subsidised farm input.
Their calls come amid the controversial exit of NCPB boss Newton Terer after failing to vet grain delivered to the State body at the expense of genuine farmers.
“Governors and County officials understand farmers in their jurisdiction and need to be given an upper hand in management of NCPB for delivery of quality services,” said Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo yesterday during a farmers' meeting in Eldoret.
Growers in the region claim cartels took advantage of loopholes within the NCPB to import maize and benefit from the Sh7.1 billion that the State allocated to buy produce under the strategic grains reserve this season.
“We want functions of NCPB decentralized to weed out cartels who manipulate the board officials to deliver cheaply imported maize to its stores and receive payments at our expense,” said Mathew Koech, a farmer from Ziwa in Uasin Gishu County.
They also want the government to evaluate the maize subsidy programme to check on rising flour prices, saying that it mostly benefits cartels while hurting investment in the agriculture sector.
“We are not benefitting from the subsidised fertilizer scheme due to influential personalities who abuse the plan,” said Samuel Ng’etich, a farmer from Moiben.
Growers also say that subsidised fertiliser from government benefits wealthy farmers at the expense of their small-scale counterparts who are the target of the subsidy.
“It is pointless for the government to allocate colossal sums of money for the cheap fertilizer but does not benefit genuine farmers,” said Duncan Kiptoo from Saos, Nandi County.
Government's planting fertiliser goes for Sh1,800 and top dressing Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) is Sh 1,500 but sells at Sh3,000 in retail markets.
A recent Word Bank report points to disparity in distribution of the subsidised fertiliser, saying it mainly benefits middle and large-scale farmers.
The World Bank 2018 Kenya Economic Update indicates that it also benefits companies that distribute the manure over small-scale farmers who are being left out of the programme.