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Friday, 20 December 2013

Multimillion maize drier not serving any purpose

By Robert Eyapan 

Maize farmers in Sipili area and adjacent locations in Laikipia County are experiencing hard times this festive season. Instead of preparing for Christmas holiday the farmers are busy sun drying their maize.
It is now a critical time for drying shelled maize to avoid hazards associated with microorganism and discoloration of cereals due to high moisture content. Poor drying methods have been cited as a major cause of aflatoxin contamination in Kenya.
Maize being dried
Most farmers harvested their maize during the heavy rains, and they could not manage to dry them. Most of them opted to store their maize temporarily to wait and dry on a sunny day.
“Most of my maize is already rotten as I have been unable to dry them adequately due to inadequate sunlight. But the situation has improved since Monday and I am now trying my best to dry the remaining maize,” said Steven Irungu, a maize farmer in Sipili.
Maize in the area are harvested and shelled when it has high moisture content.
Ironically, the government has invested on a (6) six million worth of Maize dryer and placed in at Sipili cereal bank, a self help group in Sipili. LRV has established the multimillion drier is lying idle at the group’s site as farmers are languishing in heavy manual labor and watching their produce rot.  
What is more appalling is the ignorance by residents about the multi-million public facility bought with taxpayer’s money to help the farmers out of this perennial problem!
To demonstrate lack of awareness, the farmer said that drying of maize would not be a problem if the government could buy maize dryer in the region. He is aware that a mechanical maize dryer enhances efficient drying and possibility of long term storage and good quality.
 “The county government should invest in maize dryer. This can ensure that we get a rewarding value from our produce, “said Ephantus Kiptanui, oblivious of the installation already within his vicinity.
Most farmers would be preparing for the festive season but they have opted to dry their maize in the sun.
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