24 May 2018

Kenya: Come Clean on Maize Scandal, North Rift Leaders Tell Ministry

Leaders and farmers from the North Rift have told the Agriculture ministry to take responsibility for the latest maize scandal and make public a list of the Sh1.9 billion beneficiaries.

Moiben MP Sila Tiren and other leaders linked the scandal to the importation of more than 300,000 bags of maize from Mexico for the government subsidy programme last year.

They said top government officials from the region were the architects of the scandal.

MEXICO MAIZE

Mr Tiren and Kenya Farmers Association boss Kipkorir Menjo said fraudsters took advantage of their positions in government to import excess subsidised maize and sell the grain to the National Cereals and Produce Board at exaggerated prices.

The claims are backed by millers who are demanding payment from NCPB for the maize they did not collect before the subsidy ended on January 31.

"The ministry has a list of individuals and companies who imported maize from Mexico and Uganda. It should be made public. Farmers do not want to be taken round in circles," Mr Tiren said.

The MP said that his name could be in the list of the 30 individuals and firms being investigated "for political reasons".

"I have information that my name could be in the list because of my stand in championing farmers' interests," he said.

The lawmaker added that his position on maize farmers' woes had nothing to do with the 2022 elections.

CHEAP GRAIN

He has in the past clashed with Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Soy MP Caleb Kositany and other leaders over the manner in which the government was dealing with farmers' problems.

Mr Menjo claimed a senior State official from the North Rift and aides were behind the scandal.

"The individuals behind this scam are well known. They took advantage of their background to deliver cheap grain from Mexico and Uganda to NCPB," he said.

The scandal came to the fore in January when farmers were turned away as they rushed to deliver their produce to the board.

They say the scandal has led to the fall of maize prices to as low as Sh1,500 per 90-kilogramme bag.

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