Senators in the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on maize led by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka felt the brunt of farmers as they presided over a public hearing session with North Rift farmers in Uasin Gishu County. The farmers decried the issues facing maize farming in the region including the presence of cartels who have messed up the sector. “Farmers here are suspicious that you (Senators) are the big cartels and its the truth. Who is this monster called the cartel that you can’t deal with?” posed one farmer, saying the Senators must name and shame the cartel.
The maize sector has experienced difficulties, with farmers unable to sell their produce, delayed payments, cartels posing as farmers to receive the payments to farmers amongst other issues. Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangla said the leaders will close all gaps that exist in the sector. He said in Bungoma County, the reaping season has passed and farmers are still stranded, “We’ve been to Bungoma and we’ve been told they are through but the cereals board stores are filled with maize from neighbouring country so a farmer can’t even take one bag of maize to the cereals board,” he said.
A section of farmers ruled out the possibility of crop diversification, insisting that they can’t plant other crops, with avocado being mooted. They insisted ugali is the staple food for many and planting other crops other than maize doesn’t add up. The Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said the Senate will come up with a report of those things which will be implemented by restructuring institutions and they’ll need the support of the National Assembly on other issues. Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka assured the farmers that their complaints won’t fall on deaf ears, “We cannot waste public resources to come and do a PR exercise here. We have come here because we know there are issues affecting farmers and we want to find a lasting solution,” he said.