North Rift leaders have accused the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) of frustrating farmers by imposing stringent conditions for delivery of maize.
The MPs took issue with the NCPB’s demands that farmers supplying maize produce title deeds, identity cards, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN and lease agreement for the board to accept the maize.
“It is frustrating that NCPB has put unreasonable, backward, anti-farming and many hard-to-meet demands to farmers before delivery of their produce,” said Soy MP Caleb Kositany at a press conference in Parliament.
“Why, for instance, would the NCPB require that farmers supplying more than 400 bags of maize must clear with the Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board that is in Nairobi?”
Mr Kositany, who led MPs Robert Purkose (Endebes), Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East), William Kisang (Marakwet West) and Sammy Seroney (Nominated) demanded that the cereals board drop the demands and open the stores for farmers to deliver the grain as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he announced the purchase of a 90-kg bag of maize at Sh2,500.
Mr Kenyatta in late December directed the NCPB to open its stores and buy two million bags of maize from farmers for strategic food reserves. The MPs said most farmers in the North Rift did not have title deeds and the demand to produce one before delivery of maize to the NCPB is unreasonable.
“We strongly believe these conditions are meant to inhibit rather than stimulate food production in Kenya. This defeats the food sufficiency goal that the government has envisaged in Big Four agenda,” the MPs said in a joint statement.
Mr Kisang said 60 to 70 per cent of people living in Elgeyo Marakwet lack land documents and this would lock out many farmers from the NCPB maize purchase.
Mr Purkose said: “NCPB should buy maize without this primitive conditions as long as the maize is sourced from within the country.”
The MPs also demanded that NCPB heeds the presidential directive to open buying centres across the country.
“Even as we await the purchase of maize, the planting season is less than a month away. So far, we have not witnessed any supply of fertiliser.
“We want whoever is responsible in government to come clean and tell us whether subsidised fertiliser will be available, when and if it will not be available for farmers to prepare themselves for worst or best case scenario,” Mr Kositany said.