The Samburu County Government has rejected 8,000 bags of maize it bought from the National Cereals and Produce Board.
The county government condemned the maize, which had been delivered to the NCPB stores in Maralal early last month, as unfit for human consumption, dashing hopes that it would be distributed to hunger-stricken families starting Monday.
The maize, which has been paid for, has been lying at the depot for the past six weeks.
And as this unfolds, thousands of families continue to endure hunger pangs in the wake of relief food delays.
Making the announcement on Thursday after a meeting to discuss the famine, Governor Moses Lenolkulal said results of tests on the maize showed it fell below the minimum standards required for human consumption.
Mr Lenolkulal accused the cereals board of selling what he described as contaminated maize to the county government and said it should be held accountable.
“The maize could have been kept in storage for too long and they knowingly sold it to us,” he said.
Governor Lenolkulal said his government has ordered another 5,000 bags from Nakuru which have been delivered to the NCPB. He told the board to destroy the condemned maize.
Cereals board managing director Newton Terer on Thursday said there had been no communication or complaint from the county government regarding the condition of the maize.
“We are treating this as mere allegations and will respond when we receive a complaint,” he said.
Expressing surprise at the turn of events, Mr Terer said the board tests all stock before releasing it to clients.
He said the NCPB would be more than willing to take back the maize and refund the county its money.
Interestingly, about 800 metres from the meeting venue where the maize was rejected the maize, Maralal chiefs were busy distributing relief food bought by the national government from the same cereals board, raising questions about the claims.
In late July, the National Drought Management Authority estimated that about 54,000 people were affected by the famine but, according to stakeholders, the numbers could have grown bigger as the situation has been worsening.
This is not the first time Governor Lenolkulal has declared relief food unfit for consumption.
Last year, he made the same claims but went ahead and distributed the same food.