Cereal growers mainly from the North Rift have rejected fresh vetting of farmers who delivered their produce to the National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) last season as announced by the government.
More than 250 farmers from Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nandi and Nakuru counties, who converged at Eldoret town, claimed the move was meant to frustrate them.
“Since we have waited for last eight months, we wonder why the government now asking for fresh vetting yet we were vetted when we delivered our produce...we think this is a ploy to shift goals,” said Mungai Ngethe, a farmer from Nakuru.
The farmers also vowed to stage demonstrations in the major towns mainly in the North Rift region to air their frustrations.
“If by next week on Tuesday, we will not have been paid then we are going to block major roads. We don’t see the need why we should take part in vetting yet we were vetted when we delivered maize and even when we were given fertiliser...we have suffered for a long time,” Joseph Rotich, another farmer from Trans Nzoia.
Farmers are required to submit a number of documents such as copies of national ID, KRA PIN certificate, passport photos, weighbridge tickets, original delivery notes, and the recipient’s bank details before they can be paid.
Growers are demanding Sh3.5 billion for maize deliveries to the cereals board for the last eight months.
On Monday, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa asked maize farmers owed by the government to visit their respective NCPB depots to verify their payment details following his ministry’s release of Sh1.4 billion for deliveries made last year.
“Complaints were raised over the payments made to farmers for the 2017/2018 crop season and there were allegations payments had disadvantaged genuine farmers in preference of traders,” said Mr Wamalwa.
“The amount of Sh1.4 billion released as per the budget for the financial year 2018/19 will largely focus on the smallholder farmers first,” said Mr Wamalwa whose ministry now manages the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) after it was transferred from the Agriculture ministry.
On Monday, farmers also demanded allocation of monies for the remaining balance and for purchase maize of ahead of harvesting season in the next two months.
“No monies have been allocated yet maize crop this season is ready. If we go this way then this will hurt government’s big four agenda,” said Kipkorir Menjo.
Moiben MP Silas Tiren, who attended the meeting, urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and end the stalemate.
“There is money which is ready and they are told to go for fresh vetting. I don’t understand what the exercise is for…
“They know these culprits who they are targeting so we don’t know why they are frustrating farmers at the expense of a few people” posed the Jubilee legislator.
He also accused the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of failing to table report over the scam at NCPB.
“What has happened to probe into maize scandal? We have seen in other sectors action has been taken but nothing has come out of the probe which has alleged loss of funds,” added Mr Tiren.
The MP also asked the government to audit all maize in NCPB stores after claims that traders had shipped in hundreds of bags from Mexico, enough to last for three years and likely to hurt farmers ahead of the harvesting season