The release of Sh1.4 billion by the State to pay farmers who have delivered their maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board is good news. The pay is part of the Sh3.5 billion the NCPB owes farmers.
The Minisry of Agriculture has already sent the money to the Ministry of Devolution. The NCPB says it will disburse the money to the farmers as soon as it is received.
This development comes against the backdrop of the ongoing vetting of farmers to weed out the unscrupulous traders who recently supplied cheap imported grain, with the sole aim of benefiting from the NCPB price of Sh3,200 per 90kg bag.
Genuine farmers must be insulated from the shenanigans of selfish individuals masquerading as maize growers.
Indeed, there is nothing wrong with importing maize, if there is an acute shortage in the country, where it is the staple food for millions. However, importation should not be an avenue for wheeler-dealers and ‘tenderpreneurs’ to line their pockets through shady and illegal dealings at the expense of farmers.
The individuals must not be allowed to reap where they never sowed. While the imports help to lower the cost of maize flour, they hurt farmers’ earnings and breed unnecessary confrontations between the growers and government.
The interest of maize farmers must be paramount at all times. This is why the State must make haste and ensure the balance owed to the farmers is cleared within reasonable time.
This will motivate the farmers and enable them to prepare early for the next planting season. Only this way will the country have adequate grain stocks for consumption and to replenish the Strategic Grain Reserve.