The Politics Of Maize, DP Cartels Vs Poor North Rift Farmers


By Wambua M M


This cereal which is our staple food was first introduced by the colonialists as a cheap means of feeding prisoners in the pre-independence era.

The African guards then collected the seeds and took them to their rural homes where they tried them out and voila! the dependence we find ourselves in.

Travel on any highway heading out of the capital city during the rainy season and be confounded by this phenomenon.

The government through their agricultural extension programme have conveniently been unable to encourage local farmers from this reliance on maize farming.

While we are aware that there are other indigenous crops more nutritious and with inexpensive value addition mechanisms that would ameliorate poverty in the rural areas if their production is regulated and an aggressive marketing campaign is pushed.

However, the government’s lethargy in motivating the agricultural sector towards this endeavour is the single most reason why we are unable to achieve self sufficiency in food production and have to rely on well placed cartels to fill in our shortfall every year.

The Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme was hyped to mitigate the adverse effects caused by drought and its accompanying constraints such as soil acidification, lack of access to improved seeds, and the effects of
maize lethal fungi infection, necrosis.

The government is supposed to ensure it puts in place recovery programs that include distribution of certified seeds and fertilizers to farmers and in establishing storage facilities in order to reduce post harvest losses and reduce aflatoxin contamination.

But you and I know why we keeping on losing on this.

1. The shortfall MUST be maintained to create an opening for imports. The favoured state connected cohorts will import cheap maize in excess of the shortfall, flood the market and arm twist the millers to give their product priority while the local farmers produce is refused processing in NCPB silos for lack of storage space.

2. These cartels will also be granted consent to import fertilizer which they source from unknown manufacturers in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. They also sell this to the farmers at exorbitant prices and when the farmers apply this to their crops they whittle and dry up.

3. They also import fake after harvest pesticides and have been suspected of introducing non indigenous pests to destroy farmers produce so that the gap is maintained.

This just one crop, Maize, unfortunately the narrative is similar for Sugar, Rice, wheat, Eggs….

A country cannot develop economically if it cannot achieve the most basic of its citizens need. Food sufficiency is a MUST.


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