Cereals board accused of selling unsafe maize to fight starvation
The National Cereals and Produce Board has clashed with the county government of Samburu on the safety of maize stock supplied for relief intervention.
While the county government has rejected the maize, saying it was below the required standards, the board has dismissed the claims arguing the 8,000 bags of maize bought by the county government last month was tested and analysed for safety before it was released to its client.
The maize purchased by the county government at Sh11.5 million in early October has been lying at the Maralal cereals depot uncollected for the last six weeks.
The cereals board has come out fighting the claims made by Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal, insisting the maize is safe for human consumption.
On Friday, NCPB managing director Mr Newton Terer made an impromptu visit to the Maralal depot where he dismissed the claims. He said NCPB had looked at the maize in the stores and it had no components of aflatoxin — a poisonous substance found in maize stored with moisture.
Governor Lenolkulal on Thursday said the county government has sent samples of the NCPB supply to the Government Chemist and results indicated the consignment consisted of grains damaged by pests beyond the minimum acceptable standard, thus not good for human consumption.
“It is unfortunate the food they sold to us might have been kept in storage for too long and they knowingly sold it to us. In the meantime our people are starving,” he said in Maralala after attending a stakeholders meeting on the famine situation in the county.
NCPB, however, said the grains it sells to different clients in the country is tested and analysed before being released to markets.
“The maize we have here is good and there should be no cause for alarm,” said Mr Terer.
The rejected stock was meant to be distributed to more than 54,000 people affected by famine in Samburu County, starting Monday. There have been complaints about the delay by the county government to distribute the relief aid.
According to Governor Lenolkulal, the county government has already ordered 5,000 fresh bags of maize from Nakuru which have already been delivered to the NCPB storage facility, adding that the unfit consignment has been returned to Nakuru for further action.
He has asked NCPB to destroy the consignment which he said, would be sent to Nakuru.
Responding to the claims at Maralal depot yesterday, Mr Terer said the board only learnt about the county government’s verdict through media reports.
“I travelled overnight because of a story that was doing rounds on Thursday. I came on a fact finding mission because as an institution we do not sell produce, including maize, which is harmful,” said Mr Terer.
CREDIT: Daily Nation
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