NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Five legislators from the North Rift region wants the government to mop up maize stocks in the region.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter claims there is a plot by cartels in the agriculture sector to create an artificial shortage in order to force the government to import the staple food to avert the ‘crisis’ from worsening.
“Cartels who were championing farmers in the North Rift to abandon maize for avocado farming are now trying create an artificial shortage so that they can profit from importation of maize as witnessed in the previous years,” he said.
“I urge the government to first buy from the farmers at the current market price of Sh3,500. The cartels should leave the farmers alone and instead import avocados if that can feed the country,” he said.
The vocal Jubilee MP vowed to block a repeat of last year’s event where the government imported maize at Sh3,900 per 90-kilogramme bag but bought the local produce at Sh2,000.
The MPs who include Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Caleb Amisi (Saboti) and Silas Tiren (Moiben) said farmers in the country’s breadbasket region have an estimated 25 million bags in their stores.
The government had earlier this year allocated Sh5 billion to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to purchase 2 million bags of maize but only 300,000 bags were bought after farmers claimed that the Sh2,500 buying price was too low.
“The North Rift and the other maize growing regions produced 44 million bags last season. The farmers have supplied the NCPB with only 300,000 bags citing lower prices. This leaves them over 25 million bags in their stores. The millers on the other hand have their stores full having benefited from the tax free 2017/2018 import window,” the MPs said in a statement issued at Parliament Buildings.
The agricultural sector is the backbone of Kenya’s economy contributing about 24 per cent of the GDP directly and 27 per cent indirectly through linkages with other sectors of the economy. The sector also employs 67 per cent of country’s workforce.