Kuria Farmers Say They Are Stranded With Harvests From 3 Seasons, Protest Government Import Of Maize
By Owuor Auki
Maize farmers in the Kuria region in Migori county have protested the governments move to import maize while ignoring locals.
The farmers said they felt insulted as the government they voted for twice in 2017 was ignoring them. Speaking in Ntimaru, Kuria East, the farmers said they were stranded with maize in their homes and wanted the government to come to their rescue.
“We want the government to consider us and know that there are farmers too from this region,” said John Mwita.
Mwita said they were forced to sell their grains at throw away prices since they needed to survive and meet their needs after pleading with the government in vain.
“We are being exploited by brokers and middlemen who have taken advantage of the situation here on the ground. It is like our efforts are wasted away,” said Samwel Marwa.
Marwa said they were frustrated as farmers because maize was the only cash crop in the region which residents banked on for survival.
“Most farmers have began planting for this season with some stranded with grains going back to the previous three seasons and seemingly there is nothing we can do about it,” said Marwa
He said the National Cereals and Produce Board store at Ntimatu town was full and could not accept their maize. Jones Kehongo said he had 50 bags of maize in his store at home and wondered where he was going to sell it yet he had already planted for the new season.
“It hurts us as farmers when we hear that the government promotes farmers from other countries through maize imports yet we have loads and loads of maize here in Kuria some of which go bad in our stores due to lack of markets,” said Kihingu.
Jane Gisiri who owns a maize store in Ntimaru said they were the only hope to farmers despite buying their maize at low prices. “Sometimes we buy from them for as low as Sh. 8 per 2kg tin of maize during high season.
If we don’t buy from these farmers there is nowhere else that they will take their maize,
” Gisiri said. But speaking at the Ntimaru NCPB store, Ntimaru East Member of County Assembly Augustine Mwise who went to asses the situation wondered what plans the government had for Kuria farmers. “This store is full with maize some dating back to 2015 and you are left wondering how local farmers who are stranded are supposed to be helped,” said Mwise
Mwise said the government was out of order to source for maize from outside the country yet the harvest in the country was able to feed Kenyans. The MCA urged the government to transfer maize from the store to enable farmers to sell their maize. Most farmers have been forced to sell their maize at Sh. 1,500 with some farmers saying they sold at Sh. 1200 to local stores.