“I have completely lost my livelihood in less than two years due to Corruption in Kenya; I fully support the president in his fight against the vice” states Mr. Simiyu.
He narrates his story below.
I am a small farmer from Trans Nzoia county. I walk into a Microfinance in Kitale town to borrow Ksh 300,000. Microfinance institutions have come around to help since, after the interest rate capping law, mainstream Banks won’t even look at us. I intend to use the money to lease 10acres of land to cultivate maize.
They take the title to my 1acre ancestral land in exchange.
Everything goes per plan. In less than 4 weeks I get the money, I prepare my land and purchase maize seeds and DAP fertilizer from the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) store. By mid-March, I am ready and waiting for the rains so I can plant.
The rains come in torrents at the beginning of April and we plant.
A month later, it is time for weeding and top dressing which I do dutifully. After all, agriculture is the backbone of our country and the only means of livelihood available to a majority of Kenyans.
By mid-year, I am expecting to see a strong crop, however, the crops all around look unhealthy with yellowing leaves.
We suspect the seeds or fertilizers could have been fake.
We also think that the fertilizer may have been washed away with the above average rains and some of us go back to our pockets to buy more top-dressing fertilizer and repeat the process. However, by end of June, the crops are still looking unhealthy.
In early August, I visit my cousin who lives in rural Uasin Gishu county. After the usual cousinly exchanges, we turn to talk about politics and the state of the country, after all, its just a few days to the chaotic August poll.
Of major interest is not even the politics, but rather the conduct of his neighbor. He is obviously in the ruling party and is putting up a humongous house. Rumor has it that it is an 18 bedroomed house. He has brought in a contractor from Nairobi who has come complete with his own handymen. Area locals and neighbors are not allowed to provide casual labor there.
After the corrupted August 8 polls and the subsequent ruling by the supreme court confirmed that indeed the elections were shambolic, I visit again. The neighbor’s house is complete, replete with farmhouses and electric fence all around his 100-acre land, actually, he bought an additional 50acres a month ago. As my boda-boda rides the rough road to my cousin’s place, we are struck by the neat cabro paving that ends at the neighbor’s gate.
On my way back, we are obstructed or rather we obstruct a large number of trucks which are ferrying newly purchased 200 dairy cows to this neighbor. He stops us and asks arrogantly why we chose to use the cabro side instead of the longer muddier road that avoids his gate. Before I respond, he draws his gun and orders the boda-boda rider to go back and take the longer route. As we turn back, obviously terrified, he loudly exclaims that he does not want poor neighbors to pass near his gate.
Two months pass by, maize stalks are dry and brown. It is harvesting time. The crop is meager. Where we used to harvest between 20 and 30 bags per acre, we are struggling to do 10 bags per acre. It is quite a heartbreaking harvest. My ten acres yield 100 shelled sellable bags.
Around December, the government announces that it will purchase farmers maize at a price point of Ksh3000. At this rate, I calculate that I will make Ksh 300,000 from my harvest. If I take out marketing costs, that is labor transport and waiting charges at the Silos of about Ksh30000, my net sales would be Ksh240,000. The total cost of the loan, principal plus interest is Ksh 360,000, meaning that I lose Ksh 120,000. I panic at this realization. What will happen to my title deed? If the average yield had been 15 bags an acre, I would have made some money!
Read this to learn “Why growing maize in western Kenya will leave you a pauper“.
Yet this was not to be.
I prepare my maize for the silos, hire a track and camp outside Moi’s bridge silo. The line is as long as the one going to hell. I estimate that the trucks are 2 kilometers long. I had never seen such a long line of trucks before. We wait for three days, but we are still kilometers away from the gate. Around Christmas day turnboys who are guarding the trucks report that at night there is usually another line of trucks that are given express passage to the gates. Farmers sit there, wait and wait.
Several days after new year, the silo announces that they can no longer take more maize and that we have to go sell our maize elsewhere.
Heartbroken and having wasted about Ksh40,000 waiting to deliver the maize to the silo, I take my maize home. The price has fallen drastically, brokers are buying at Ksh1600 per bag. I decide to hold onto the Maize for a while.
First thing after the new year, I go negotiate with my microfinance on how to repay the loan. They ask me to sell any other assets that I have. I have two other sources of livelihood. Two cows that I am milking and 500-layer chickens. I am selling the milk and eggs to feed my family and pay school fees for my children. Selling the cows and chicken is not an option. I request them to give me some more time. They agree but load charges, I now have to pay Ksh 400,000.
Days pass quickly, the microfinance threatens to sell my land. I now have to cut down on family meals and we are just doing ugali and vegetables. I am trying to use my milk sales to repay the loan bit by bit but it’s not reducing at all.
The handshake comes on the steps of Harambee house; Uhuru and Raila meet and greet, ooh what a relief!
After the handshake, the media is full of corruption reports.
The maize importation scandal rocks the Ministry of Agriculture, it is now clear that the reason farmers were turned away at the Silos is that corrupt individuals colluded with senior Government officials to supply imported maize to the silos denying genuine farmers the chance to sell their crop. I still have a little of the maize from last year, I am completely unable to sell because the market is flooded and the price continues to tumble as 2018 crop starts coming in. It is a disaster for maize farmers.
“Most imported products are fake”, the government reports.
It is now clear that the seeds and fertilizer that were sold to farmers were actually fake! What a slap in the face to our very basic national food production. Where did we lose our “Kenya is an agricultural country slogan”? Why can’t we protect the only livelihood available to a majority of Kenyans? Why must a few people turn our country to the dogs?
My cousin calls, he says I should visit him sometime. So, I go. While there, I am able to watch TV, I had already sold my TV and the solar lighting to help repay the loan. On TV, the Cabinet Secretary Interior announces that the sugar Kenyans are consuming, is laced with lead, copper, mercury and other heavy metals.
The sugar packaging shown on TV is the same one I bought from my local shop that morning. How can we feed our fellow countrymen poison? How do you tell your children not to consume sugar because it has mercury?
Later, the media reports that a Parliament committee appointed to investigate the saga has been bribed a paltry Ksh10,000 each to reject the report. They actually reject the report, meaning that there cannot be any action on the sugar saga and that the barons can continue selling it. Who is fooling who, who was bribed, the MPs or the Sugar committee?
In all this, state house is silent, but still, waters run deep.
Next, we see demolitions all over Nairobi and in some parts of the country. A tough-talking president announces that he has lost friends but he is determined to finish impunity in the country. I scoff him off. What with the powerful Governors of Nairobi and Kiambu caught in a phone call colluding to defeat the arm of the Law in regards to illegal buildings?
Kenya Bureau of Standards officials are hauled to court in connection to poison sugar and counterfeit goods, yet it has not registered that the war against graft is on.
My small poultry enterprise is struggling too. The price of eggs has fallen from Ksh320 to Ksh260. I am told it is because people are importing cheap eggs from Uganda and China through our porous borders, circumventing border rules. The government is helpless. Some days I am forced to grind the maize and feed to the chicken because I can not afford the commercial feeds, this adversely affects production.
The Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and others are hauled to court over the maize scandal.
The Deputy Chief Justice, actually my favorite judge is also hauled to court over corruption and criminal cases in the collapse of Imperial Bank and I am stunned.
The high-level meeting with president Trump and the UK premiere follow in short succession. On the day that the president stands side by side with the UK premiere to announce bilateral deals, whatever is said is music to my ears.
“We need to make it painfully unrewarding, and expensive to get into corruption,” Uhuru states at State House Nairobi. The UK premiere, Mrs. May confirms that her government will assist in repatriating corruption proceeds hidden in the UK back to Kenya to be used to assist the common Kenyan.
I am watching these proceeds from a hotel in town where I have come to deliver my only two dairy cattle and their calves to a buyer so that I can save my ancestral land. How will I survive after this?
In less than two years, due to corruption at the national level, a common Mwananchi’s life is thrown into the gutter. Fake seeds, fertilizers, and chemicals ensure he has very little or no harvest. Next, fakes and counterfeits are brought in through our porous borders which means he cannot sell his locally produced products be it sugar or eggs or maize etc. Children have to drop out of school and malnutrition due to poor diet is killing the masses. Some life comforts like radio, TV, and sofa must be sold. Cows and chicken which are his only livelihood must be auctioned in order to finance the greed of the corrupt individuals in government.
This is the reason “Why Kenya must support its Entrepreneurs”.
President Uhuru and Hon Raila, don’t leave your people to the devious devices of these hungry corruption moguls . We as citizens bear the brunt of grand corruption, but we stand with you strongly in this fight. Together we will slay dragons of impunity and corruption.
Share until all those fairly facing corruption charges can start to see what they are doing to their countrymen.