The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has been ordered to purchase at least two million bags of maize from farmers.
At the same time, President Uhuru Kenyatta told NCPB to buy the maize at Sh2,500, an improvement from the Sh2,300 the Government had initially offered for a 90-kg bag.
He also directed NCPB to open its buying centres to facilitate the Strategic Food Reserve to buy the maize.
There has been a public outcry in the Rift Valley bread basket after the Cabinet last November approved the purchase of two million bags of maize from local farmers at a price of Sh2,300 per bag as part of efforts by the government to support local farmers.
Political leaders and farmers from the North Rift have, however, rejected the price, arguing that they were never consulted and that it was punitive. They demanded that the government reviews the price.
But in a statement from State House, Mombasa, President Kenyatta directed the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri to authorise the Strategic Food Reserve to buy two million 90-kilogramme bags of maize at Sh2,500 a bag.
“I have directed the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture to authorise the National Cereals and Produce Board, through the Strategic Food Reserve, to immediately open, in coordination with respective county governments, buying centres and stores to receive maize from farmers across the country,” Uhuru said in a statement yesterday.
He also directed scrutiny of pending bills to ensure speedy payments to farmers.
“I call upon the investigative agencies to expedite verification of the pending bills to ensure maize farmers are paid as soon as possible.”
The President said the bumper harvest in the 2018 season yielded 46 million bags. In addition, there were 2.5 million bags carried over from the 2017 harvest.
Uhuru said the Government would at the same time release 1.7 million 90Kg bags of maize at Sh1,600 and an additional 300,000 bags of animal feed at Sh1,400 per bag.
“It is clear there is sufficient maize in the market which is selling at between Sh1,700 and Sh1,800 per 90Kg per bag. With these interventions, I do not expect changes in the existing price of unga.”
The question of maize prices has been a political hot potato that culminated in the recent public scolding of Mr Kiunjuri by the President in a rare show of anger.
Mr Kenyatta ordered investigations into the payment and told Mr Kiunjuri that he would be in trouble if money meant for maize farmers was ever again paid out to well-heeled individuals.