Farmers braved long queues to deliver maize at the NCPB depot in Eldoret but are yet to receive payment five months down the line. Photo: North Rift Mirror.
Just two after after Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe sent home five National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) officials over a KSh 1.9 billion scandal,North rift grain farmers have called for the disbandment of the institution.
On Sunday, May 20, NCPB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Newton Terer resigned in a move which seem to have been occasioned by pressure from the National government.
The National government was also under duress from agitated maize farmers yet to receive payment for maize delivered in December 2017.
“It is time for NCPB was dissolved, reconstituted and handed over to the counties for effective management because it has been taken over by cartels in the national government. The mismanagement of the grain reserve has made us poor and unable to produce food,” said Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association Director.
Menjo confided that county leaders were very close to farmers and understood their specific needs hence well placed to address their issues.
“Currently, money which could pay over 4,000 farmers has been squandered by about eight traders who are well connected to senior government officials. With the counties guiding NCPB operations such an incident would hardly happen,” he said.
Jackson Kwambai, a farmer in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County, said he was a victim of the major scandal at NCPB and blamed poor management of the parastatal to the national government.
“I delivered 1,560 bags of 50 kgs to NCPB in December 2017 but I haven’t received a cent for the delivery. It is sad the government claimed it lacked money to pay us yet a few traders who imported cheap maize from Uganda were taking all the money meant for farmers,” said Kwambai.
He was appalled the government refused to take in more deliveries from farmers citing lack of funds and storage space but had taken massive deliveries from well connected brokers who were paid promptly.
“Every county needs to determine how NCPB depots situated within their jurisdiction operate. That way, it would be easy to assess genuine farmers, pay promptly and even have fertiliser supplies in good time,” explained Kwambai.
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Some sources at NCPB in Eldoret revealed the government is yet to pay North Rift farmers KSh 4.7 billion in balances for produce received in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Turkana depots Recently, the National Assembly approved only KSh 1 billion in the supplementary budget towards payment of maize supplies by farmers to NCPB which was way below KSh 3.5 billion proposed by the Agriculture committee.
Although the total maize purchases by NCPB amounted to KSh 12.4 billion, the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) Fund had only KSh 5.5 billion, while the budget provision under the supplementary estimate two was KSh 1.3 billion, hence a deficit of KSh 5.6 billion.
The revelation that KSh 1.9 billion meant to pay farmers for their delivery was paid to only eight unscrupulous traders added pain to the farmers long wait.
NCPB has also been accused of hoarding subsidized fertiliser.
On Monday, May 21, Lesiyampe suspended managers of Lake Western, North Rift and South Rift regions and depot managers in Kisumu, Nakuru, Moi’s Bridge, Eldoret and Bungoma over the scandal.
Albin Sang was picked as acting CEO in the place of Terer who had just committed to his second term at the helm of NCPB in 2017 after he first took over in 2014.