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North Rift farmers reject new maize price

The  crisis facing the maize sub sector are not about to end with farmers from maize growing areas in the North Rift now rejecting the new maize prices offered by the government.

The farmers drawn from Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet and part of Western region counties vowed that they will only sell their maize to the government through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) if the announced price of Sh.2,300 is per the 50 kilogramme bag and not 90kg bag.

The announcement made on Monday by the Strategic Food Reserve Fund( SFRF) chairman, Noah Wekesa was bound to rub farmers who are already counting losses from last season’s harvest the wrong way.

Farmers from the region expect to harvest at least 4 million bags this season.

The farmers are still holding over 500,000 bags of maize in their stores owing to the maize scandal that rocked NCPB where business people were given priority in payment at the expense of genuine farmers.

The charged farmers at a press briefing after a consultative meeting held at the Teachers Advisory Centre in Eldoret said they fully supported leaders from the region who have already rejected the new prices.

On  Monday governors Jackson Mandago, (Uasin Gishu) and his Trans Nzoia counterpart, Patrick Khaemb who were recently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta into a task force to look into bringing a solution to problems haunting maize production in Kenya rejected the new price claiming it was not tenable to farmers.

The farmers are now threatening to turn this year’s maize harvest in to livestock feed if the SFRF sticks to its price.

Led by Jackson Kwambai and Kimutai Kolum , the maize producers observed that the Sh. 2,300 per 90 kg bag will destabilize the maize market which in the long run ruin the agriculture sector the economic backbone for most residents in the north rift region.

The government seems to have set the new price without even considering the cost of production, if we go with this price farmers will run at a loss, said Kwambai.

Kolum said that the government should be inviting representatives from the farming community across the country to get their input when determining the price of their produce as sign of good faith.

“What the government is doing now is like telling the farmers not to plant maize next season and this is another loophole for cartels and traders to import maize from outside the country”, he added.

By  Kiptanui  Cherono

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