A section of maize farmers in West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia counties have threatened to boycott planting the crop next season due to poor prices and failure by the national government to pay them on time.
They are now demanding a memorandum of understanding with the government on maize prices for the next harvesting season. They said they ought to know the prices early enough to budget for maize farming.
The farmers accused the government of frustrating them, citing delayed payment for their produce.
They said they are yet to sell last season’s crop due to lack of market and poor prices. A majority of them say they are now unable to repay their loans.
They said the woes facing them have been worsened by creditors who are after their properties to recover loans they secured to purchase farm inputs over the last two seasons.
The growers said the MOU will enable them to know if they will plant maize or resort to other crops that will benefit them.
Led by their chairman Richard Mwareng, the farmers said they got demoralised after the government failed to increase prices from the current Sh2,300 per 90kg to Sh3,600.
“We have suffered for many years. The government is giving us a raw deal and we have been discouraged by poor prices and lack of market for the produce,” Mr Mwareng lamented.
They accused the government of allowing cartels to ship in cheap maize to the NCPB at their expense. “We have huge stocks from the last season and there is no market,” he said.
The government, they argued, may not achieve the food security agenda if they continue to lack incentives to double productivity.
They noted that maize farming is now unprofitable, adding that they will shift to dairy farming.
“We don’t know where we will take the crop when it is ready by October. It is so discouraging that the government owes us a lot of money,” Mr Mwareng added.