By Beth Nyaga
President Uhuru Kenyatta has Friday announced a budgetary allocation of sh. 1 billion to cushion Miraa growers from the challenges brought about by ban of Miraa in the European markets two years ago.
President Kenyatta said he instructed the Cabinet that discussed government budgetary priorities in Naivasha last week for the next financial year to include the funds to support Miraa like other cash crops.
The President spoke at State House Nairobi when he signed into law a Bill that will categorize Miraa as a cash crop. The amended Crops act opens doors for the crop to benefit from government budgetary funding.
The Mediated Version of the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill No 2 makes minor amendments to the Crops Act to recognize Miraa as a cash crop. The Act obligates the National Government to establish mechanisms for promotion, Production, distribution and marketing of Miraa as a cash crop.
The historical assent, which was also witnessed by Deputy President William Ruto and the Meru political leadership at State House, Nairobi, gives legal backing for farmers and traders to grow, harvest and sell Miraa produce in the country without any hindrances.
He said the funds will be availed through the ministry of Agriculture and directed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary to sit with the Meru leadership to agree on the mode of disbursement.
The President regretted the tribulations which the farmers were undergoing since the ban and assured that the Government would do everything possible to ensure farmers reaped maximum benefits from their produce.
“This historical law we have signed today giving Miraa the legal backing as a cash crop will also give the crop the foundation of recognition in formal government structures,” he added.
President Kenyatta announced formation of a new task force to look into the ills afflicting the Miraa sub-sector and make recommendations for implementation by the government.
The old task force was disbanded after Meru leaders moved to court.
During the meeting, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, Women Rep Florence Kajuju and the chairman of Meru Parliamentary group Mithika Linturi thanked the President for the efforts to revive the Miraa sub-sector.
“We are happy with your government for addressing the development concerns of the Meru people in terms of infrastructure development, construction of dams and issuance of title deeds,” the leaders told the President.
President Kenyatta said while leaders have a right to exercise competitive politics, they should tell Kenyans the truth for the sake of unity and tangible development.
He said the Jubilee government remained committed to fulfilling its development pledges to Kenyans and will not be distracted by empty talk of opposition leaders.
“What is it that the opposition are promising to do now that they failed to deliver while in Government? They should stop cheating Kenyans,” the President posed.
Speaking during the occasion, Deputy President expressed Jubilee government’s commitment to resolving all development challenges facing the Meru region.
The Deputy President commended the President for making devolution work within a short time, saying under his leadership, the Government had devolved resources and transferred functions on time.
The Deputy President told county governments to ensure prudent use of public funds saying accountability is not negotiable.
The meeting was also attended by leaders of Majority in National Assembly and Senate Aden Duale and Kithure Kindiki respectively.