Millers using National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots to store maize have protested an order for them to vacate the premises. Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri had ordered NCPB to reposes its leased out stores to create more space for maize deliveries from farmers.The board has asked the maize millers to vacate its go-downs by December 31. However, some millers said they lacked alternative stores. And yesterday, NCPB gave the millers only two days to move out of its stores.
Farmers have blamed failure by NCPB to purchase their maize on the decision to lease out the stores to millers. Some of the farmers said they still have stocks of last year’s harvest after NCPB failed to buy their produce. Mombasa-based Kitui Millers is among firms affected by the order. Its managing director Swalleh Ismael said the order will also hurt farmers from North Rift and Western regions who have been selling their produce to them. “We are shocked by the directive requiring us to vacate the go downs. And we have only been given two days to leave. Where will we take all the maize we have in two days?” said Ismael.He said they have been paying rent to NCPB since 1992.
The miller has over 100,000 90-kg bags of maize at Eldoret’s NCPB go-downs. Other millers affected by the directive are Mombasa Millers and Mwingi Millers, also based in Mombasa. “Farmers have been selling maize to us after NCPB turned them away. They are now able to take care of their families, including paying school fees, and getting money to prepare for the next planting season,” Ismael said. Mr David Kiplagat, from Elgeyo Marakwet, said they will suffer if the millers are kicked out of NCPB stores. NCPB Public Relations Officer Titus Maiyo said they want the millers out to create space to receive maize from farmers.
Maiyo said the board will start buying maize from farmers as soon as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Strategic Food Reserve settle on modalities for buying the grain. Meanwhile, farmers from Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu lamented they have incurred losses after pests attacked their maize due NCPB’s failure to buy their produce. Mr Christopher Lagat, from Trans Nzoia, said he is still has 5,000 bags from the 2017 season and another 2,000 bags from last year’s harvest.He fears it will go to waste if NCPB further delays buying it.