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Economy

Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar and ad-hoc Senate Committee on Maize chairman Samson Cherargei sample maize at the National Cereals and Produce Board’s Eldoret depot on September 28. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA 

Parliament wants Auditor-General Edward Ouko to conduct a preliminary audit to confirm the billions of shillings worth of maize stored in the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) silos that are fit for human consumption.

Public Investments Committee (PIC) said it has received a tip that huge consignment of maize at the NCPB depots is unfit for human consumption.

The board is said to be holding nearly a million bags worth more than Sh3.1 billion that is unfit for human consumption in the wake of a scandal that saw the agency pay fake farmers billions of shillings.

The maize was moulding with high heat and insect damage. Millers reckon that the bad maize can only be used in making animal feeds, arguing that it was not fit for milling.

“We want to know what amount of maize can be used for human consumption and what has gone bad,” Abdulswamad Nassir, who chairs PIC said at a press conference in Parliament.

“We have credible information that there is a huge consignment of maize bought by NCPB that has gone bad due to lack of timely decision making due to issues of bureaucracy.”

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He asked Mr Ouko to work with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to verify the maize in different silos by doing random testing in order to confirm the current status of this maize.

“We want to know whether this maize has gone bad after purchase and why the NCPB did not sale the maize before it went bad,” said Mr Nassir said.

The moulding could see the maize get infected by the deadly aflatoxin, which is linked to liver cancer.

Mr Nassir said NCPB purchased about three million bags of maize in January at a cost of Sh3,200 per 90-kg bag bringing the total cost to Sh9 billion.

“We are asking the auditor to within 10 days give us a preliminary report before we decide whether to do a proper in-depth special audit,” he said.

Mr Nassir said if it turns out that the maize is unfit for human consumption, the committee would make serious recommendations that will nail individuals who were responsible at the NCPB board.

Mr Nassir said the board is unable to pay farmers for the crop that is now going to waste because it failed to sale the crop it is holding at its silos and depots

“This is not the fault of farmers but the management of the NCPB who failed to properly store the maize or sell it to pay the farmers.

“We now have a bumper harvest across the country but NCPB silos are full. Where will the new crop go and how will NCPB pay farmers for the new crop if it has stock that is rotting?” Mr Nassir asked.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa demanded that the NCPB comes clean of the current maize stocks and when it will pay farmers for their deliveries.



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