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MPs to join protest over delayed farmers’ pay

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MPs in the North Rift are threatening to join farmers in street demonstrations if the government will not release more than Sh4.2 billion for maize delivered to the National Cereals and Produce Board.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny yesterday said efforts to have the Treasury release the money have not yielded results. Farmers have been ignored for two months, he said. “We have tried diplomacy so that farmers are paid but we have not succeeded. We will now join farmers in public demonstrations,” Kuttuny said in Eldoret town.
He said they met officials from the Agriculture ministry and Treasury but promises to pay the money had not been honoured. Kuttuny’s sentiments have been supported by Moiben MP Sila Tiren and other legislators from maize-growing areas in the North Rift.
The farmers plan to block streets in Eldoret and Kitale using tractors and lorries to force the government to release the money which has accumulated since December 5. Kuttuny said farmers’ children have been chased away from schools as fees has not been paid.
“Farmers are delaying in preparations for this year’s planting season and if that continues, very few will go back to farming,” the lawmaker said.
Treasury has been withholding more than Sh4.2 billion required to pay farmers. Some have protested against the delay to pay them. The farmers, led by Kimutai Kolum and Kipkorir Menjo, said the government has reneged on its promise to pay them promptly.
“If they continue withholding the money we will not be able to plan on how to buy farm input for the next planting season,” Kolum said in Eldoret town.
Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe has said the state will release the money this week. “We will pay them as soon as possible because they have to start preparations for the next planting season,” he said on the phone.
The NCPB planned to buy about two million bags of maize using the Sh6 billion set aside. The board was allowed to surpass the plan and buy more than 2.7 million bags worth more than Sh8 billion. It has paid half of the farmers’ dues.