NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 12 – The Ministry of Agriculture said the delay in payment of maize farmers was caused by budgetary issues refuting claims that it had imported maize from neighbouring countries.
The ministry has been accused by maize farmers that it brought in cheap maize from Uganda denying them an opportunity to send their produce.
While appearing before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee, PS Agriculture Hamad Boga has defended the ministry saying that some traders were posing as farmers and were paid to the disadvantage of genuine farmers.
“There has been challenges and we are trying to solve them but I just want clarify that we did not import maize at expense of our own farmers. There were some issues with funding and the money that was allocated was not enough to buy the 4 million bags of maize from farmers as we had projected,” said Boga.
He added that the government through the ministry has been supporting farmers by availing affordable fertilizer.
NCPB Administrative Secretary Kello Harsame who also appeared before the committee says the board has come up with measures to vet and register genuine farmers to whom the board will be prioritizing payments.
“Suspension of payment to farmers was also caused by suspected malpractices in the entire purchasing process but we are sealing those loops by identifying sincere farmers and registering them,” he said
The Senator Margret Kamar led committee was however informed that NCPB has maize in their stores for the last 6 months which exceeds the period that maize should be in silos.
According to Harsame, they are in process of moving the maize although the current PS is uncomfortable at approving the movement as it will incur further cost.
Additionally, he said the board is also waiting on directives from the line Ministry on where the maize should be moved to before it starts turning yellow and be unfit for consumption.
So far the Ministry has paid Sh8 billion to farmers remaining with pending bills of 3.5 billion which the Ministry says will be paid after the multi-agency is done with its investigation over 1.4 billion Maize Scandal.
On 30th August, Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and top NCPB managers were arrested for the irregular purchase of maize.