Maize farmers in the North Rift have mounted pressure on the government to release the balance of Sh1.188 million to pay traders and farmers being probed by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over Sh11.3 billion maize scandal.
They said the traders bought maize from small scale farmers before selling the crop to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and that they should be paid the money.
“Most of these traders and farmers are involved in genuine business. They bought maize from small scale farmers and sold the crop to NCPB and they deserve payment,” said Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director during a farmers meeting in Eldoret.
The government has released Sh932 million to settle the outstanding Sh2.12 billing for maize it bought last season through NCPB for the Strategic Grains Reserve. But farmers who were not vetted in the second phase and traders under investigation by EACC in the Sh11.3 billion maize scandal have been left out of the payment.
“There are 42 farmers who were not vetted and traders and firms being investigated by EACC that will not be paid,” said Titus Maiyo, NCPB Corporate affairs manager.
The funds released last week, he said, has been distributed to NCPB depots and paid out to farmers.
Some of the farmers admitted having received the payment but petitioned the government to pay their colleagues who were left out of the exercise.
“Most of the traders under probe by EACC are also involved in maize cultivation and they deserve to be paid their rightful due,” said Wilson Too from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.
This comes as NCPB management maintained that it has not received approval to buy the maize from farmers giving middlemen an upper hand to exploit farmers by offering low prices as they prepare for next planting season.
The farmers have declined the Sh2,300 per 90 kg bag set by the Ministry of Agriculture terming it as too low to sustain production of the crop.
The want the government to set a price above the Sh3,200 offered by NCPB last season.
The NCPB however risks losing millions of shillings as private millers avoid buying the over 600,000 bags of maize released from the strategic food reserve at Sh2,300 to the market.