Ministry of Agriculture asked to immediately pay maize farmers

Deputy President William Ruto has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to immediately pay maize farmers.

He said the farmers need the funds to prepare their land and plant.

At the same time, Mr. Ruto said the Government was investigating some unscrupulous business people posing as maize farmers.

He said the group had bought maize across the borders and sold to the National Cereals and Produce Board thereby denying local farmers the opportunity to earn from their produce.

Mr. Ruto attributed the cause of payment delays to farmers to the crooked businesspeople who have dumped maize from neghbouring countries to the cereals board.

The Deputy President announced that the ministry will register all farmers in the next 90 days to weed out those bend on sabotaging the Government subsidy programme and weed out cartels.

Speaking during the official opening of the 2nd National Conservation Agriculture Conference, held at a Nairobi hotel, on Tuesday, Mr Ruto said the Government would ensure only genuine farmers were paid.

“We have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure only genuine farmers who have delivered their farm produce to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) are paid,” said Mr Ruto.

Present were Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe (Agriculture), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenya representative Dr Gabriel Rugalema and European Union (EU), Kenya representative, Myra Bernardi.

The Deputy President said the Government has put in place proper mechanisms including registration of all farmers across the country in the next 90 days to eliminate brokers, cartels and conmen interfering and sabotaging the maize sector.

“We have put in place proper mechanisms to eliminate the threat of those posing as maize farmers in the process interfering and sabotaging efforts to support farmers,” said Mr Ruto.

Mr Ruto said the Government will protect genuine farmers from a group that was using farming to make a kill.

He said Conservation Agriculture was advantageous since it retained the soil matter, reduced erosion, reserved water, reduced input use, and prevented land degradation.

Mr Ruto said in order to reap the dividends of Conservation Agriculture, there was need to have a minimum of 10 percent of farmers countrywide to adopt the practice, saying county governments were perfect partners in ensuring the success of the programme.

He said the Government will continue to support farmers by ensuring zero rated farm machinery, soil friendly fertilizer and availing fertilizer at Sh1,500 per 50 kilogramme bag.

 Mr Ruto challenged the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation to formulate sound policies and a viable implementation framework so as to anchor the approach to sustain productivity.

Mr Kiunjuri said implementation of the Conservation Agriculture would help reduce the costs of farm inputs including fertilisers thus ensure early planting.

“We must together explore ways of deepening and scaling up Conservation Agriculture to improve farmers yields across the country,” said Mr Kiunjuri.

Ms Bernardi said EU has used Sh 1.2billion to fund Conservation Agriculture in the country.

“As European Union we want to assure Kenya that we are committed to ensuring the success of this programme so as to attain improve yields among farmers,” said Ms Bernardi.

Mr Rugalema said FAO has helped farmers in eight counties invest in Conservation Agriculture, saying the move was yielding fruits.

He urged the private sector to partner with county and national government in ensuring the success of the programme as the only way to attaining food security besides improving the living standards of farmers.