Deputy President William Ruto through his Koilel Farm and 11 other farmers are set to earn Sh200 million after being cleared by the anti-corruption watchdog for the bungled supply of grains to the National Cereals and Produce Board in 2017.
NCPB managing director Albin Sang says the 12 growers, who were cleared by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) in February, are to be paid within one week after the Strategic Food Reserve made a commitment to release the money.
The 12 are among the 62 individuals who had been put under investigation by the EACC over suspected irregular supply of maize to the board in order to benefit from a government price of Sh3,200.
Their payment was frozen after suspicions that they bought maize elsewhere and sold it to the NCPB, which had been restricted to buy grains from farmers.
“I spoke to the SFR and they promised to release funds to clear these farmers,” Mr Sang told the Business Daily.
Koilel Farm supplied 6,000 bags of maize for Sh19.2 million and told the EACC it produced the grains from its 430-acre farm in Uasin Gishu.
The agency had in February said six of the 62 farmers had been charged in court while 44 others were still under investigation.
Cartels are said to have profited from payments made by the NCPB at the expense of genuine farmers in a racket that saw thousands of growers miss out on their payment.
Middlemen allegedly bought cheap maize from Uganda and wanted to sell it at double the price to NCPB.
According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, investigations into the irregularities established that NCPB officials, agricultural officers and chiefs colluded with traders to facilitate delivery of maize to the Kisumu depot, resulting in fraudulent payments.
The traders bought maize cheaply from farmers including from Uganda for sale to NCPB.
Maize farmers have this year shunned NCPB following a sharp increase of prices in the market, leaving grain agency having purchased just a fraction of the required stocks.
The government has been buying grains from farmers at Sh2, 500 for a 90 kilo bag while the market prices have shot to Sh3,200 for the same quantity.
Mr Sang says the board has so far purchased 420,000 bags only out of the targeted purchase of two million.
The price of the staple has been going up steadily in the last three weeks when cost was Sh2,800. The price hike has been attributed to shortage of supply in the market.
“There is a serious shortage of maize in the market, as of today (yesterday) the current price of the commodity was Sh3,400,” says Peter Kuguru, the chairperson of United Millers Association, umbrella body that brings together all the small scale millers.