, NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 6 – The Government has set aside Sh1 billion to clear debt owed to farmers by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the funds is earmarked for 500 farmers out of 987 farmers who are still owed Sh3.5 billion by the grain storage agency.
“The Cabinet approved additional Sh1billion, which the National Treasury CS Henry Rotich has guaranteed to release tomorrow (Thursday) and we effect the payment based on the systems in place,” said Kiunjuri.
However, 89 farmers, among the remaining ones who delivered huge numbers of 50 kg bags to NCPB will not be paid.
Meanwhile the ministry has commenced a physical audit in the country’s Strategic Grain Reserve depots in Eldoret, Nakuru, Moi Bridge, Bungoma and Kisumu to determine whether the over six million bags were indeed delivered to the facilities.
Kiunjuri said preliminary investigation have revealed that Sh2billion was paid to unscrupulous traders in the initial payment of Sh8billlion paid to 11, 326 farmers.
“We dictated the illegal activities in January and raised the red flag. We are undertaking the stock check and will balance the sheets to ascertain if we had fake delivers. After three weeks, will table a detailed report in parliament,” Kiunjuri told the Senate team probing the delayed payment of farmers by the NCPB.
The Senate Committee learnt that NCPB had already imported 562,000 bags of maize from Mexico before the government procured the controversial subsided maize at the Sh3,200 per 90 kg bag.
NCPB has a capacity of holding between 3.2 million (90kg) bags to 4million (90kg) bags.
Uasin Gishu Senator Michael Mbito questioned why the ministry only projected to buy two million bags from farmers, while well connected cartels hijacked the government subsidy program.
Homa Bay Senators, Moses Kajwang queried if there was conspiracy among the traders and the NCPB officials.
“I feel disappointed that farmers were disadvantaged by the program. We will establish the truth if we were dealing with traders or farmers and those behind the rip-off. “The issue of negligence arise. The subsidy was for famers only not traders,” the CS said in his response.
Kiunjuri added that; “Somebody must be held be account. The EACC, our internal auditors and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are on the matter. Nine officer have under investigations already.”