Maize farmers of Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet refuse to shift to Moi’s Bridge

Hundreds of Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet maize farmers are refusing the NCPB directive to take their harvest to Moi’s Bridge depot for drying.

They must also pay transport and drying costs.

Farmers say they will demonstrate and bring all business in Eldoret to a halt if the decision is not rescinded.

The move away from Eldoret is temporary and intended to ensure wheat farmers also can also use proper drying facilities.

Maize farmers say they should rotate week by week with wheat farmers.

The maize must not exceed 13.5 per cent moisture content, or the government will not buy it.

A senior official at the NCPB Eldoret depot, who declined to be named, said they had advised farmers to take their maize to Moi’s Bridge for drying.

He said the move is temporary.

The decision was made to make way wheat farmers who have been delivering harvests since last week at the Eldoret facility.

He said the wheat farmers also need to use the only available drying machine. But the maize farmers say they will defy the Board’s directive.

Their spokesperson Elkana Kanda told the press in Eldoret the move is ill-advised and the extra expenses would eat into their profit margins.

“It’s wrong for the management to wake up one morning and ambush us with a directive that we take our maize harvests to Moi’s Bridge depot.

“Worse still, they want us to meet the costs of transporting and drying the harvests,” he said.

Kenya Farmers’ Association director Kipkorir Menjo told the board to solve the problem, instead of leaving the farmers in a dilemma.

“The management should come up with a rotational system where maize farmers are allowed to dry their crop for one week, then create room for wheat farmers to use it in the following week,” he said. Last year, the Association urged the Agriculture ministry to open more depots to ease congestion.

It also urged the government to immediately hire more staff to speed produce delivery. Menjo said farmers are afraid their maize would spoil before the government could buy it.

“The National Cereals and Produce Board should speed up the process,” Menjo said then.

In recent years, some maize farmers in the county have ditched maize framing for horticultural crops, citing poor returns.