The National Cereals and Produce Board has paid out Sh1.6 billion to farmers in the last two month.The board has purchased more than 500,000 bags of maize from farmers in all of its depots, mostly in the maize producing region of the Rift Valley.
NCPB managing director Gideon Misoi says the board will continue purchasing the maize countrywide."The turn out from farmers who want to sell their maize to NCPB is very high at the moment. We are hopping to get more money for the purchase," Misoi told the Star on the phone yesterday.
Yesterday, farmers, who were meeting in Eldoret, asked the government to release more money to the NCPB.The farmers want the government to release Sh5 billion allocated to relief programmes in this year's budget.
"All that money should be given to the NCPB because what was allocated is already exhausted. The board may stop the maize purchase any time," said Kipkorir Menjo, the director of the Kenya Farmers Association.
The farmers resumed selling their maize to the board after the government released an extra Sh800 million for the purchase last week."The government has the duty to safeguard the country's food security instead of allowing middlemen to thrive", said Menjo.
The shortage of cash at NCPB caused the market prices to drop from Sh3,000 to Sh2,300 in parts of the region. The prices have however gone up following the release of more cash.
Farmers have argued that the Sh1.6 billion allocated to buy maize is inadequate because it can only purchase less than 1 million bags out the 40 million produced.