NCPB to dry farmers’ grains at reduced prices
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has opened its stores across the country for drying and storage services following last month's directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Farmers in Narok, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Bungoma and other food production areas where the board's major silos are located have been urged to take their grains for drying and possible storage.
The board's Managing Director Joseph Kimote said on Friday the facilities are ready for use. He urged farmers to utilise them to ensure that they reduce post harvest grain losses.
"In this regard, we would like to notify farmers, farmers cooperatives and other interested parties that NCPB's facilities are open for them to utilise and therefore, the Board is prepared to offer the aforementioned services at the prescribed rates as directed," he said in a statement.
On September 28, President Kenyatta directed the board to review maize drying charges for farmers by 50 per cent from Sh40 to Sh20 per unit drop of moisture content.
The president also directed the board to avail its stores to farmers, farmer groups and traders at affordable costs.
"The president also directed us to revise our storage charges from Sh10 to Sh3 per 50kg bag per month," Kimote added.
He said NCPB has storage facilities distributed countrywide comprising of conventional stores and silos offering storage services at competitive rates.
"Besides that service, and to ensure food safety, farmers, millers and traders are welcome to use NCPB's aflatoxin testing laboratories in Nakuru, Eldoret, Kitale, Meru and Machakos," he noted
The Board charges a competitive price for aflatoxin testing, he said.
NCPB's laboratories and other depots can also grade grain to determine their quality.
"There are also weighbridges attached to the depots that are calibrated to give accurate measures, which are open for use by farmers and other customers," he added.
The board, he said also offers pest control and fumigation services to farmers, farmer' cooperatives, governmental and non-governmetal institutions at affordable rates.
"Even though we have opened the stores for farmers to dry and store maize at a fee, we are yet to receive funds from the National Treasury and Planning to start buying as per the presidential directive, " added Kimote.
He said harvesting is going on in various parts of the country and farmers are ready to sell to NCPB at a minimum price of Sh2500 as directed by the president.
The National Government and counties owe the NCPB Sh18 billion for the last four years, frustrating the food agency's ability to meet its financial obligations.
Kimote in a phone interview says that delay by the debtors to pay the agency has frustrated efforts to discharge its core mandate of ensuring food safety.
“Our financial base has been affected by lack of working capital. This is money owed to us by clients we offered services to for years. The arrears is money national Government institutions and counties ought to have paid for grain handling and fertiliser activity,” said Kimote.
The money he said once paid will help to recapitalize the agency and thus enable it to discharge its new commercial role.
The outstanding debts include Sh6.7 billion for fertiliser subsidy programme, defunct Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) Sh3.2 billion, Sh2.6 billion for handling of the maize importation in 2017, Sh3.5 billion as old debts and sh1 billion supposed to be paid by the Devolution Ministry as services offered for storage and handling of relief supplies.