The Kenyan government has cleared about U$4,557,885.10 (Kshs500million) to pay 89 maize farmers cleared by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for stocks supplied to the National Cereals and Produce Board in the controversial 2017/18 purchase window.
Of this amount, some Sh147million has already been received by 21 growers—marking the end of a long wait for the farmers who had been affected by a decision by the State to freeze the payments amid concerns that some brokers may have infiltrated the maize purchase scheme at the expense of genuine farmers.
The EACC and the Agriculture ministry audited the maize purchases by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) after reports emerged that some middlemen were filling government silos with imports from Uganda while local farmers remained stranded with produce.
“We are now working on the modalities on how to disburse the money to the farmers and the payment exercise will start as soon as possible,” said NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote.
Farmers supplying maize to NCPB are normally vetted by their area chief and given clearance letters, a move aimed at locking out traders.
The board opened its doors last year in December for supplies, after failing to purchase maize in 2019 from growers. However, unlike other years, the grain handler is buying maize for its commercial use and not for Strategic Grain Reserve as it has been the case before.
NCPB is paying Sh2,500 per 90-Kilogramme bag with farmers delivering grain that meet the required quality standards getting having their payment processed within 24 hours upon delivery.
“We are therefore encouraging farmers to bring in their maize to NCPB and get value for their crop,” said the MD.
Besides buying maize, NCPB is offering grain post-harvest services like grain drying, Warehousing; both regular and Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) based, weighing, aflatoxin testing and fumigation at a cost.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed Agriculture ministry last month to ensure that farmers are paid a minimum of Sh2,500 on their produce.
However, farmers have objected this price saying it is not sufficient.