Maize farmers in the Kuria region in Migori County have criticized the government’s move to import maize while ignoring local producers.
The farmers claimed that the government had failed to purchase locally produced maize and relied on inconsistent statistics which indicated a shortage of maize in the country.
Speaking in Ntimaru, Kuria East, the farmers said they were stranded with maize in their homes during harvesting period and wanted the government to come to their rescue.
“We want the government to consider us and know that there are farmers too from this region,” said John Mwita, maize farmer in Kegonga.
Mwita said they were forced to sell their grains at throw away prices since they needed to survive and meet their needs after pleading with the government in vain.
“We are being exploited by brokers and middlemen who have taken advantage of the situation here on the ground. It is like our efforts are wasted away,” said Samwel Marwa another farmer from Ntimaru.
Marwa said they were frustrated as farmers because maize was the only cash crop in the region which residents banked on for survival.
“Most farmers have begun planting for this season with some stranded with grains going back to the previous three seasons and seemingly there is nothing we can do about it,” said Marwa
He said the NCPB store at Ntimatu town was full and could not accept their maize.
Jones Kehongo said he had 50 bags of maize in his store at home and wondered where he was going to sell it yet he had already planted for the new season.
“It hurts us as farmers when we hear that the government promotes farmers from other countries through maize imports yet we had sacks of maize here which some go bad in our stores due to lack of markets,” said Kehongo.
Jane Gisiri who owns a maize store in Ntimaru said they were the only hope to farmers despite buying their maize at low prices.
“Sometimes we buy from them for as low as Sh.8 per 2kg tin of maize during high season. If we don’t buy from these farmers there is nowhere else that they will take their maize,” Gisiri said.
Speaking at the Ntimaru NCPB store, the Ntimaru East Member of County Assembly, Augustine Mwise who went to assess the situation wondered what plans the government had for Kuria farmers.
“This store is full with maize some dating back to 2015 and you are left wondering how local farmers who are stranded are supposed to be helped,” said Mwise
Mwise said the government was out of order to source for maize from outside the country yet the harvest in the country was able to feed Kenyans.
The MCA urged the government to transfer maize from the store to enable farmers to sell their maize.
Most farmers this season have been forced to sell their maize at Sh.1, 500 with some farmers saying they sold at Sh.1, 200.
However, the officer in charge of NCPB Ntimaru, Grace Maki said most farmers failed to sell maize to NCBP because of the government’s tough procedures last season.
She said some farmers sold maize locally claiming it offered better prices than the government.
Maki said they were waiting for the government authority to purchase maize from farmers this season.
Migori County has four maize storage facilities at Awendo, Migori, Kehancha and Ntimaru which could accommodate up to 200,000 of 90kg backs of maize.
By Geoffrey Satia