The Council of Governors acknowledges that Kenyan farmers have been experiencing challenges during production and marketing of maize produce, with the issues threatening the country’s attainment of food security.
The CoG also understands that farmers are not able to deliver this year’s produce to the national buyer, NCPB, which may send them into huge post-harvest losses and make them susceptible to middle-men who capitalize on desperation to offer farmers exploitative prices.
In their statement at the side-lines of a Maize Crisis Consultative Meeting at Uasin Gishu County headquarters’, the Governors, through its chair Josephat Nanok, emphasized that the maize issue has to be addressed once and for all as it threatens to choke the country’s food security, with some farmers having proclaimed to quite maize farming beginning next season.
The COG chair, who is also the Governor for Turkana, flanked by host Governor Jackson Mandago, Trans Nzoia’s and Elgeyo Marakwet’s Patrick Khaemba and Alex Tolgos, host Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno and CECs from other counties, made the following statements;
i) That the country is expecting bumper harvest this year following the Big 4 Security Initiative as spearheaded by the two levels of government promised farmers good prices. However, the promise has not been addressed and farmers are already harvesting. The national government should not abandon farmers at their hour of need.
- Desperate farmers sell 90kg bag of maize for between Sh1,000 and Sh1,200.
- Stop relying on maize, diversify Governor Mandago tells farmers.
- Maize farmers in North Rift count losses due to lack of market.
ii) That there’s an outcry on when the Ministry of Agriculture will open buying depots’ doors and announce prices. Maize redistribution strategy to move grains from surplus to deficit regions should be fast-tracked.
iii) Currently, NPCB still has space across the country to absorb 2.7 million bags of maize. On this, we urge the Ministry of Agriculture to speed up the opening of depots to save farmers from the agony of post-harvest losses and unscrupulous businessmen.
iv) That the National Government partners with County Governments to make stores built by the latter for use as buying centres as the current NCPB strategy favours large scale growers and living out small holder sowers.
v) That some farmers are yet to be paid despite supplying to the NCP a year ago. We urge the Ministry of Agriculture to clear the remaining balances owed to farmers to allow them solve their domestic needs as well as plan for the next season.
vi) That maize importation has left NCPB unable to sell maize at the prevailing market prices. This will result to huge storage costs and losses. Thus, NCPB and the Ministry need to come up with a strategy to ensure that the maize in the stores is sold to create space for new yield.
vii) That the National Government needs to urgently work to repair and replace all aged driers and to establish a plan to enhance grain storage capacity to last the country for 3-do not lead us into crisis.
viii) The absence of Cabinet Secretaries for Agriculture and Treasury in the meeting puts to question the commitment of the National Government to the agenda of food security. Further, the increased taxes and levies on agricultural inputs make our farmers uncompetitive to produce.
ix) Mandatory and immediate roll out of the national farmer registration exercise to identify farmers is required. County Governments whose mandate is agriculture should play a key role.
x) Funds for maize purchase and fertilizer subsidy to be given to counties as conditional grant since crop husbandry is a devolved function.