A section of MPs have threatened to stage a demonstration on Monday next week should the government fail to release the Sh3.5 billion owed to farmers who supplied maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) last year.
Led by Nandi Hills Member of Parliament Alfred Keter, the lawmakers have accused the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Agriculture counterpart CS Mwangi Kiunjuri for deliberately lying to the hundreds of thousands of farmers when they know that the government is not committed to the plight of farmers.
Other MPs were Silas Tiren (Moiben), Joshua Kandie (Baringo Central) and Sammy Seroney (nominated). The lawmakers were addressing the media at Parliament buildings and threatened to lead demonstrations on Monday if nothing will have changed.
“If by Monday the government will not have released the farmers’ dues, we will organize the mother of demonstrations in major towns in maize growing zones,” Mr Keter said.
They said they want to stand with the farmers and promised to stage demonstration in the streets of Kitale, Moi’s Bridge, Eldoret, Kapsabet, Nandi Hills, Nakuru and all other maize growing areas.
“We have already started harvesting our maize but the government has said nothing concerning our payment, we are tired of being cheated by the government,” Mr. Elvis Kipruto a farmer based in Kitale told Mkarimu.
A week before, Rotich had said that by Monday this week, all the farmers’ payments should have done but farmers plea remains standstill as nothing has been done.
Mr Kiunjuri attributed the delay in settling the farmers’ dues to lack of funds, ongoing audit of farmers who supplied the maize and the incapacitation of the board of the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) that is supposed to make the payments.
“We were not able to pay our farmers because the maize that was brought to the NCPB exceeded the money budgeted for,” Mr Kiunjuri had said.
The legislators faulted Mr Kiunjuri for making false promises even as they warned that they will no longer tolerate cartels who import maize and sale to the government using their political connections at the expense of the local farmers.
“We see this as a deliberate attempt to frustrate local farmers to create room for future maize imports. We saw the NCPB pay merchants and cartels, who imported and supplied maize from Mexico, Brazil, Uganda and Tanzania. They in fact got paid a day or two after deliveries yet farmers have never been paid,” Keter said.