In a bid to weed out middlemen who have infiltrated the agriculture sector, the Ministry of agriculture is set to start vetting maize farmers who will benefit from National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) purchase. NCPB will soon strictly buy maize from registered farmers.
In a notice to the dailies, maize farmers have been urged to register with NCPB or risk being locked out from accessing the strategic reserve. The Ministry of Agriculture has already developed a farmers’ register which is available at all county agricultural offices where farmers can check and verify their registration details.
“Farmers who are not in the register are advised to register immediately at their respective county agricultural offices to qualify to sell their maize to NCPB in the current season,” the Ministry said in the notice.
Maize farmers across the country have expressed their fears over the possible holding of bags by middlemen and are estimated to be as many as two million bags. This comes ahead of the opening of the NCPB stores. Last week the government announced that the National Cereal and Produce Board would buy maize from farmers at Kshs. 3, 000 per 90-kilogram bag up from the previous price of Kshs. 2, 300.
Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of investigating the infiltration of middlemen at NCPB. This will serve as a measure of ensuring only genuine farmers benefit from the increase of prices set to be used for the current harvest season.
“This is the time when middlemen are now hiring stores around to go pick produce at a throwaway price and come store them and eventually sell to NCPB at a better price and that’s what we don’t want,” Mr. Bett stressed.
In the recent past, farmers are said to have sold maize for as low as Kshs. 1,200.Mr. Bett, however, said that in future the government would base maize prices on a market survey to ensure farmers are not compensated for inefficient farming practices.
“We are basing our prices now on a market survey because we survey on the cost of production so that we can set a price. A price that will give the farmer a markup but not a price which we are compensating for certain inefficiencies,” he said.