Farmers protest ill treatment, no pay after NCPB stops maize intake

Rift Valley farmers waved twigs in protests on Monday after the NCPB suspended collection of maize as depots are full.

They demonstrated at the Eldoret depot of the National Cereals and Produce Board and gave the management a week to solve their problems.

The farmers had queued for hours to deliver their produce only to find the gates of the Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge and Kitale depots locked.

The stores are full of maize from the growers who want about Sh3.2 billion for deliveries since December 2017. Last week, Treasury released only Sh1 billion of the Sh4.2 billion which the government owes them.

Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo, who led the protests, said: “We have been informed that the board’s depots are full and that they can now only deal with distribution of fertiliser. Farmers are still queuing to deliver maize only to find the gates locked.”

Menjo asked the government to open the facilities, make arrangements for maize to be collected from all farmers, continue distributing fertiliser and pay all their dues.

Board CEO Newton Terer, through spokesman Titus Maiyo, said they were moving the produce to less congested depots.

“We have stores that are not full in areas out of the North Rift. We are moving the stock to create space,” Maiyo said, noting intake will resume once this is done.

The board has purchased more than three million bags of maize at more than Sh11 billion and has paid farmers about Sh7 billion.

Those in Rift Valley have threatened to cut production this year as the government is taking long to clear the balance.

Menjo noted the delay will affect preparations for the planting season which will start in three weeks.

“Majority of farmers are worried. Without cash they plan to reduce areas under maize production,” he said. “The unreliable market and poor handling by the government has forced most farmers to start considering other crops.”

The director earlier noted that most of the farmers cannot pay fees for their children and prepare for the planting season due to lack of funds.

“Farmers should be paid all their dues as they had been promised by the government”, he said after a meeting at the depot in Eldoret.

MPs in the North Rift region led by Sila Tiren of Moiben and Joshua Kuttuny of Cherangany have also asked the government to release all the more needed to pay farmers.

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