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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Three months after the Government announced a bumper maize harvest across the country, even in traditionally ‘hungry’ districts in Eastern Province, disaster has struck. Farmers are stuck with 2.3 million bags of maize poisoned by a fungus, aflatoxin, a condition widely associated with poor storage. Such high moisture grain has in yesteryears caused widespread deaths especially in Eastern Province. And predictably, the Government stepped in to buy all the contaminated stocks for onward destruction. Trouble is, the State is offering between Sh1,000 and Sh1,500 per bag, way below farmers’ expectation of Sh2,300.Fields in these areas never looked so green and granaries so overwhelmed in living memory, they did not know what to do with such bountifulness and sought to cash-in on their good fortune. Government cautioned them against selling off their sweat to middlemen and brokers and farmers hoped National Cereals and Produce Board would take in their grain. This was not to be. High price to pay Fair is fair, the let Government keep its word and offload the maize at Sh2,300 per bag. The price of leaving the maize in their hands would be too high to pay. The Government does not have a good track record in fighting disease outbreaks since the response is often slow. Often, officials only rush to affected regions after deaths have been reported. Aflatoxin deaths can be prevented. Just buy out the toxic maize now.