Busia MP Catherine Omanyo has urged the government to open a new National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) buying centre in Busia town to save farmers from brokers who are buying maize at throwaway prices.
Speaking to the press in Busia town, Omanyo challenged the government to establish the store to save farmers from the huge cost of transporting farm produce to the centre at Malaba from Nambale or Bunyala subcounties.
The legislator was trying to address the concern that farmers in Busia town were being exploited by middlemen and brokers who had camped in the county following a good harvest and were buying and collecting the grains right from farmers’ homes.
“Maize prices have continued to drop gradually since June, with a gorogoro retailing at Sh. 80. Some farmers who lack proper storage facilities are selling their grains hurriedly to avoid losses due to high humidity during the rainy season,” said Omanyo. Gorogoro refers to a 2-kg tin that is locally used for measuring in the market.
“The expenses and logistics issues hinder poor farmers from taking their produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at Malaba or Bungoma, hence exposing them to massive exploitation,” she added.
According to Omanyo, Busia County is known for its significant maize production, yielding over 800,000 bags annually. This can be a game changer if both the county and national governments consider investing in the value addition of maize.
“I will champion the formation of cooperatives to empower farmers and enable them to negotiate better for their produce. In addition, providing storage facilities and market linkages will allow farmers to withhold their maize until prices are more favourable,” noted the law marker.
Omanyo has urged leaders in the county to lobby for the establishment of more NCPB buying points to increase the demand and price of maize, benefiting farmers and ensuring better returns on their produce.
Her sentiments were echoed by Busia CEC Agriculture Dr. George Mukoko, who challenged MCAs to enact laws that will govern the sale of farm produce.
“As more farmers harvest, the prices could even go lower than the current Kshs. 80 per 2kg tin. This has been caused mainly by lack of a structured marketing system for the product,” said Dr. Mukoko.
The county Executive for Agriculture noted that plans are underway by the county government of Busia to ensure farmers are enrolled in cooperatives to boost their bargaining power on the market and mitigate cartels.
“Even though there is no law barring the farmers from selling dry maize, we urge and encourage them to store the produce for future use.” To this end, our long-term plan is to organise the farmers into cooperatives. This will empower the farmers’ bargaining power and cushion them against such things,” he added.
Source: Kenya News