The planned reforms to boost maize production are welcome, though long overdue.
The grains sector has for years been chaotic but it has properly orchestrated confusion meant to benefit cartels.
Last year, the country was stunned by news that, after queuing for hours at National Cereals and Produce Board depots, farmers had been turned back with their harvest.
They had invested their time, bought seedlings, planted, weeded, harvested and ferried their maize to the NCPB stores only to find that some shadowy characters had already supplied maize smuggled from Uganda and the depots were full.
This was the height of betrayal. The NCPB is funded by the government to buy cereals for the national strategic reserve and stabilise the market so as to encourage farmers and boost food security.
It should be a reliable source of income for the farmers to improve their well-being, but the crooks won’t let this happen.
The proposed changes in the NCPB are meant to plug the loophole through which billions of shillings have been lost.
To ensure market stability, the NCPB should buy the maize after harvest at a prize that ensures that farmers do not throw away their produce due to a glut.
However, the NCPB system is rotten. There have been cases where fake farmers have been paid hundreds of millions of shillings.
The proposed warehouse receipt system to reduce the NCPB’s direct involvement in the purchasing of farm produce will enable farmers, through warehouse cooperatives, to delay the sale of their produce until prices are favourable.
This should be the solution to problems such as the recent contamination with aflatoxin of all the stocks in the strategic reserve. Modernising the grains sector is a must to improve overall efficiency.