North Rift maize farm**s decry lack of State support

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 00:00 | By
Maize farming. Photo/Courtesy

Maize farmers in North Rift want National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to start buying their produce to help stabilise market prices which they say has in the last two months fallen from Sh2,600 to Sh2,100 currently. 

They also faulted the government for not setting aside money to stabilise fertiliser prices which have gone up from Sh3,500 for Diamonium Phosphate (DAP) which is mainly used in the region in March this year to the current Sh4,000.

Steep rise in the cost of input, they worry would make maize production expensive next year, therefore making the country food insecure.

Led by Ernest Tormoi, a large scale farmer in Moi’s Bridge, the farmers  said NCPB should open its depots to start buying their produce and save them from exploitation. 

“The harvest is poor and the kind of exploitation we are facing will force most of us out of farming next year,” said  Tormoi who is also an official of Kenya National Farmers Union.

He said farmers were astounded when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced 13 key government interventions to revive the ailing economy but failed to allocate money in support of fertiliser subsidy to maize sub-sector.

Tea, coffee, sugar and livestock sub-sectors were allocated a total of Sh5 billion in the interventions the president announced during last week’s Mashuja Day celebrations.

Farmers in the breadbasket region are currently harvesting an average of 12 bags per  acre instead of 35 to 40 bags because of delayed rainfall after planting, poor seeds and poor seedbed preparations because of fuel hike.

Recent heavy rains when the crop was ready for harvest resulted in rotting exacerbated farmers woes.

Protecting interests

The farmers lamented that since President Mwai Kibaki left office, they have been neglected by the government in terms of input subsidies and asked Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to be on the fore-front in protecting interests of all farmers in the country.

“What we are seeing is that the government is no longer interested in protecting maize farmers.

This selective approach to the farming community is not in the interest of the country’s economy and food security,” said Jonathan Cheruiyot of Turbo.

He said dryers in all NCPB stores in the region were in utter state of disrepair and further wondered why since its inception in 2010, Warehouse Receipting System and Commodities Exchange have not taken off.

“The system could have cut post harvest losses by more than three quarters and farmers could have used the receipts as collaterals as they wait for prices in the markets to improve. Farmers could also have sold their commodities in deficit areas,” he said. 

They claimed that despite the country facing a severe shortage of maize, imports from Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania were being allowed in the country and wondered why millers and traders cannot buy from the local market.

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