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Farmers reject maize and wheat prices by board, to hold protests

Wheat farmers in Narok demonstrate on February 15, 2016 against cheap imports of the crop. Farmers in North Rift region have threatened to strike over low prices of maize and wheat. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

General+Image Farmers reject maize and wheat prices by board, to hold protests

By DENNIS LUBANGA
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General+Image Farmers reject maize and wheat prices by board, to hold protests

By STANLEY KIMUGE
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North Rift cereals farmers have vowed to hold protests from Monday next week over low maize and wheat prices offered by the cereals board.

Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) Director Kipkorir Menjo said that the protests’, to be held in Eldoret town, aim at compelling the government, through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), to increase maize prices from Sh2,300 to Sh3,000 per 90kg bag due to rise in production.

Mr Menjo accused the government of lacking a coherent agricultural strategy.

He said many farmers are currently at the mercy of powerful middlemen.

“If the Agriculture CS makes good his promise on maize prices, we will review our programme particularly if it comes before 10am on Monday,” Mr Menjo, who was speaking after a farmers’ meeting, said.

He said that the farmers had resorted to protests because it is the ‘only language’ that the government understands well.

“We have used diplomacy but it has failed and we now strongly believe that the only language that the government understands is street protests. We call upon all the farmers in Uasin Gishu and other regions to join us on Monday,” he added.

Mr Kimutai Kolum, a farmer, said that their counterparts in Narok recently held fruitful discussions with the government over wheat prices.

He regretted that despite the farmers engaging the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture over challenges they faced during this year’s planting season, nothing has come out of the meeting with the legislators.

“During our meeting in Nairobi with the parliamentary committee we agreed that the government, through the NCPB, should buy a 90kg bag of maize at Sh3,000 but this is not the case currently,” Ms Anne Kogey, a farmer, said.

Last month, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said the government must increase prices since farmers in the region had been given low-quality fertiliser, which had resulted to increased cost of production.

“We will not accept Sh2,300 this time. The Agriculture CS should sit down with his Treasury counterpart Henry Rotich so that they buy a bag of maize at Sh3,000. Farmers have also been affected by head smut which we now know was seed-borne,” Mr Mandago said.

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