Uasin Gishu County to impose stiff penalties to protect farmers
Labourers dry maize at Paul Marus’s farm in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County. County has opted to formulate policies to protect farmers. [Photo: Kevin Tunoi/Standard]
The County Government is working on modalities to restrict movement of maize into the region through the introduction of taxes.
Governor Jackson Mandago said his administration would impose levies on maize imported to the county and any grain exported without being processed.
“We shall not allow our farmers to continue suffering while business people thrive… We are going to put cess on any bag of maize that is imported from Mexico or those that will leave the county without being milled,” said Mr Mandago on Tuesday.
The governor, addressing ward representatives during the opening of the Second Session of the County Assembly, said his administration would protect farmers from exploitation by middlemen and millers.
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“We are tired of being manipulated for the benefit of a few individuals. This time, if farmers will not get value for their money, the business groups should also be denied a chance to reap from them. Levies is the way to go,” he said.
Mandago accused the Agriculture ministry of failing to listen to farmers’ pleas even as the planting season approached.
He asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to crack the whip on officials who failed to act on farmers’ demands on subsidised fertiliser and favourable prices for their grains.
“We have been patient as we wait for the Ministry of Agriculture to streamline things in the sector. But the President should know that if he does not act on the officials, the chances of us succeeding in making sure we are a food-secure country are very slim.
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“As a county, we have always pledged support for his agenda, but the ministry’s frustration is increasing daily,” said Mandago.
He challenged Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to promptly release funds to be used to buy fertiliser.
Earlier this week, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said he was not to blame for delays in buying fertiliser. He, instead, pointed an accusing finger at the Treasury for failing to give money to buy the crucial input.
“If there is contention with the Sh4.5 billion that is meant to buy fertiliser, the same amount should be distributed among grain-growing regions so that governors can take a personal initiative to purchase the inputs on behalf of the farmers,” said Mandago.
He urged farmers to join cooperatives, saying plans were on to set up milling plants in every sub-county as an alternative in value addition. “We’ve constructed cereal stores at Kaptuli, Mafuta and Tuiyo, which will be used in storage of grains,” he said.
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