Farmers in Uasin Gishu County have protested the decision by the government to slash the quantity of maize they can supply to the National Cereals and Produce Board.
In a circular to NCPB depots, the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund said Uasin Gishu farmers could only supply 328,610 bags and not 716,802 as had been announced before.
The fund also allowed the Agricultural Development Corporation and Galana Kulalu — both State agencies — to deliver 170,000 bags to the cereals board.
The purchase of maize has not begun two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to cereals board.
Senior NCPB managers cite logistical challenges. Trans Nzoia County will supply 329,610 bags of maize to the board, up from 282,610 in the reviewed programme.
Every village is expected to deliver just 100 bags of maize to NCPB stores. “We will adhere to the new guidelines,” NCPB corporate affairs manager Titus Maiyo said.
Elgeyo-Marakwet County will supply 71,334 bags to the board instead of 47,555, West Pokot will sell 51,526 bags instead of 48,677, while the quota for Bungoma increased from 224,091 to 237,270 bags.
Nakuru will supply 146,029 bags, Narok (155,934), Nandi (151,512) and Kakamega (118,675).
The board capped the purchase of 400 bags at Sh1 million to rein in traders and large scale farmers accused of abusing the system at the expense of ordinary maize growers.
The farmers are required to be cleared by a vetting committee at ward level before delivering their maize to NCPB.
The procurement of maize by the board stalled because of a delay by the Ministry of Agriculture to issue vetting forms to the committees.
“It is mandatory for farmers to be vetted before they bring their maize to our stores,” NCPB acting MD Albin Sang said.
Farmers said the decision to slash their quota would expose them to exploitation by middlemen.
“What is the point of the government reducing the amount of maize genuine farmers can sell to the NCPB, only to favour State agencies,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo asked.
Many farmers queuing to deliver their maize to NCPB stores in the Rift Valley left to seek clearance from the vetting panels.
Moiben MP Silas Tiren held a "crisis" meeting with the NCPB management. The meeting resolved to hasten the vetting and buy maize from farmers.