Commerce

Parliament committee opposes cereals board, SFROB merger

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Parliament. Photo/File

Treasury and the agriculture ministry are headed for conflict with parliament over the move to merge the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and the Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board (SFROB).

The exchequer has degazetted regulations that created SFROB, paving way for the Ministry of Agriculture to take full charge of the agency.

Before being created in 2015, SFR was initially a trust fund managed by Treasury.

“The merger will help sort out conflicts and gross corruption that has for long subjected the country to endless challenges in the food sub-sector,” Agriculture Principal secretary Hamadi Boga told Business Hub.

But the parliamentary agriculture committee dismissed the merger of the two institutions claiming it was not consulted.

Kwanza Member of Parliament Ferdinand Wanyonyi, who is also a member of the committee, said that the matter will be reviewed when sittings resume.

“The ministry will be required to explain what prompted the changes,” he said.

Maize management

SFROB and NCPB boards, for the better part of 2019 and early this year, were embroiled in conflict over the management of maize with the former declining to release maize into the market leading to scarcity.

The two agencies have an agreement requiring NCPB to oversee purchase, storage and selling of maize on behalf of the SFR.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya, when he took over the ministry, said that the government will merge NCPB and SFROB with a view to enhancing efficiency along the food value chain.

Equally, the integration of the two institutions, Munya said, would minimise cases of cartels and business lobbies that have been calling shots and denying small scale farmers’ opportunity to benefit from the government’s subsidy programmes.

The restructuring of the two institutions signals departure by the government from factoring in funds in the budget every financial year for  maize purchases.

Every year the government has been spending not less than Sh5 billion to purchase maize from farmers and distribute subsidised fertiliser.

“The agencies have created an ownership problem characterised by debts claims and delays in purchases of maize from farmers,” said Munya.

Last month, Cabinet approved a memo presented by CSs from Treasury and Agriculture. Cabinet gave the two ministries six months to merge SFR with NCPB.

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