The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) could be holding maize worth billions of shillings that is unfit for human consumption.
Some 984,102 bags of maize estimated at Sh3.1 billion bought as part of the strategic food reserve, may be infected by the deadly aflatoxin, an internal audit report shows.
Farmers have claimed most of this maize was imported from Uganda by brokers and delivered to the NCPB without any quality checks. Health experts and millers are demanding for quality assessment of the maize even as the NCPB management disputes claims that the produce in Kisumu, Moi’s Bridge and Bungoma silos was contaminated.
Dr Naftali Busakhala, a specialist physician and Senior Lecturer at Moi University warned that, if the grains were not handled properly, it could result in aflatoxin contamination.
Aflatoxin is one of the leading causes of various cancers in developing countries such as Kenya, he said.
Private millers in North Rift and Western Kenya region have joined in the fray, arguing that the maize also had a high ratio of rotten, discoloured and damaged (RDD) grains. They are reluctant to purchase it for milling.
“Forensic audit and testing needs to be done to know if maize in the NCPB stores contains aflatoxin due to inappropriate handling process,” said Kipkorir Menjo, a director Kenya Farmers Association (KFA).
A report tabled in Parliament by acting NCPB managing director Joseph Liguko shows that 1,551,027 bags of maize purchased at Moi’s Bridge silo and 220,358 bags bought at Kisumu silos were moulding with high heat and insect damage.
The 1,771 million bags of maize are in 50-kilogramme bags but the State bought 90-kilogramme bags at Sh3,200 each from the farmers.
This puts the unfit 90-kilogramme bags at 984,102 worth Sh3.1 billion based on the State purchase price. Millers reckon that the bad maize can only be used in making animal feeds.
“The results of the analysis were that the bottom was infested while the top was moulding. The maize was last fumigated in April 2018 and sprayed in March 2018,” said acting internal audit manager A. Njoroge of the stocks at Moi’s Bridge.
In Kisumu, the audit shows that the bottom silo was noted to have high heat damage as well as high temperatures while the top silo bins had high heat and insect damage as well as mould with a moisture content of 16.4 per cent.