Mr Kiunjuri however said 89 suspect traders would not be paid as unscrupulous traders pocketed Sh2 billion of Sh 8 billion initially paid to 11,326 farmers.
The Government will today release Sh1 billion to pay part of the Sh3.5 billion owed to maize farmers. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday said 500 farmers out of the 987 still owed by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) were expected to be paid starting today.
The CS also revealed that his ministry had commenced a physical audit to establish whether more than six million 50kg bags delivered to NCPB depots across the country existed or whether payments were paid for ghost deliveries.
Kiunjuri was speaking to the Senate Agriculture committee, chaired by Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga, probing the delayed payment of farmers’ dues by NCPB and the involvement of cartels who abused the Government premium.
The CS told the committee that before the Government procured the controversial subsided maize at the Sh3,200 per 90kg bag price, the national stores had 562,000 bags imported from Mexico.
“The Cabinet approved additional Sh1 billion, which National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has guaranteed to release today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today), and we effect the payment based on the systems in place,” said Kiunjuri.
He said procedures to identify the farmers would not be discriminatory. The CS also disclosed that Ethics and Anti-Corruption (EACC) officers had been dispatched to some of the flagged depots, like Eldoret, Nakuru, Moi’s Bridge, Bungoma and Kisumu.
He said former NCPB boss Newton Terer and nine suspended officers had been grilled by EACC.