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BY NAMULONGO PETER/EURIDICE NZIOKA,NAIROBI,24TH MAY 2018-Even as the country continues to grapple with who is really to blame for the recently reported multi billion shillings scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).it emerged on Thursday that 18 local traders are responsible.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe while appearing before Parliaments’ Public Accounts Committee on Thursday said the 18 traders in collusion with brokers devised cunning methods to deny genuine farmers opportunities to supply maize to the cereals board.He however downplayed reports that politicians and other senior government officials are involved in the scandal.
He insists that a preliminary investigations showed that it is 18 traders who are solely to blame for the woes of the farmers.
In a well documented case before the committee by Lesiyampe exposed a well choreographed skim where the said persons who supplied maize in Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Kisumu, Bungoma and Nakuru depots consequently were paid huge amounts of money at the expense of genuine farmers whose payments were delayed.
“These are individuals who blocked the legitimate farmers from doing business with the cereals board in the process the small scale farmers were never given priority to supply their maize,” said Lesiyampe.
The PS told members the high prices gazetted by the government last year of a 90 kilogram of maize sack retailing at a cost of 3,200 significantly contributed to the increasing number of individuals who were out to gain from the dubious transactions.
“The prices were not attractive in the past hence not very many individuals or farmers were interested in doing business with the cereals board,” he said.
Lesiyampe said investigations were still ongoing to establish the circumstances under which the 18 were paid and assured that those found culpable would be brought to book.
“It is a very unfortunate incident but action will certainly be taken on those individuals found to have aided the planning and execution of the theft,” said Lesiyampe.
He promised to submit a detailed report to the committee once a comprehensive forensic audit is complete.
The current scandal which has seen Sh1.9 billion siphoned is associated with top senior corrupt government officials who engaged in dubious tendering processes to benefit themselves at the expense of farmers .