The Uasin Gishu Senator and Chair of the Senate Ad-hoc committee on maize crisis, Prof. Margaret Kamar has asked Bungoma Governor, Wycliffe Wafula Wangamati to ensure that maize farmers are given first priority on his development agenda list.
Speaking at Mabanga Agricultural Farmers Training Centre, Prof. Kamar said it was prudent for the county leadership to engage farmers fully before getting into any partnerships with foreign investors to set up maize milling plants in the county
Kamar warned that if proper channels are not followed then the local farmer both small and large scale risked having no say in the investment, noting that once set up, the maize milling plants would provide more job opportunities to Bungoma residents and empower them economically.
She was accompanied by Bungoma Senator, Moses Masika Wetang’ula and other members of the committee in a meeting that brought together maize farmers in the region to discuss ways to improve the sector .
Wetang’ula disclosed that ghost farmers who do not come from Bungoma county had received cash amounting to sh. 530 Million from the National Cereals And Produce Board (NCPB) yet local farmers had no outlet for their produce.
The Senator proposed that a thorough audit by Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) be conducted to pin down those responsible for the misuse of funds meant for the local farmers
The Bungoma County Executive Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Mathews Wanjala Makanda said Bungoma County has 130,000 small scale and 1224 large scale farmers.
The Kimilili Member of Parliament, Didmus Barasa called on the government to stop illegal importation of more maize into the Kenyan market, saying it was the reason maize prices have gone down at the expense of the farmer.
Barasa lashed at the NCPB management for taking in large stocks of maize from middlemen while leaving out maize from genuine local farmers due to greed.
Mrs. Elizabeth Wabomba, a farmer from Kimilili sub �county told the committee that farmers were also facing the challenge of fowl army worm invasion and lack of adequate pesticides to combat it as well as delays in provision of fertilizer and certified seeds from the National Government despite paying for the inputs on time.
The Ad Hoc committee was established on August 8 this year to probe the maize situation in the country.
Source: Kenya News Agency