Farmers in Uasin Gishu county are unhappy because some still hold last year’s stock in their stores, while others are yet to dispose their 2017 stock.
Low prices, lack of subsidised fertilisers and limiting of the amount of maize that farmers can supply to the National Cereals and produce Board(NCPB), has left them questioning the viability of maize and wheat farming.
During a recent meeting in Eldoret, addressed by CEC of Agriculture Livestock Development and Fisheries, Mr Samuel Yego, they complained that though food security was one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development pillars, the government was doing little to support them.
They criticized Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri for suggesting that farmers buy fertiliser from stockists, citing that they lacked money to produce maize due to late payments.
Mr Yego said that government liberalisation had adversely affected the market.
“Though management has been devolved, money matters are still being handled by the national government”, he said.
He added that enough money for the purchase of maize and subsidised fertiliser should be allocated.
Mr Yego urged the government to declare how much maize it would buy next year, so that farmers could make up their minds on whether to reduce, maintain or increase the land under maize.
He also advised farmers to consider crop diversification.
‘You need to grow other crops instead of heavily relying on maize and wheat’, he said
The farmers’ mostly members of cooperative societies, wanted the government to import subsidised fertiliser in good time, and resolve the issue that Attorney General Paul Kihara had raised with regard to suspending import of fertiliser, at a later time.
Mr Lucas Chepkitony, a former Keiyo North MP and large scale maize farmer said the government should support cooperative societies and give them fair pricing.
“Some millers have been buying a 90 kilogram bag of maize at Ksh1,800 down from ksh2,000″, he said.
He observed that most farmers at the moment were youthful people with small farms who could not manage without government support, and urged the farmers to consider selling maize to millers through cooperative societies.
The farmers requested the government to double the purchase of maize from 2million 90kilogram bags to 4 million and to increase Uasin Gishu County’s allocation of 328,000 bags.