Miraa farmers urge Government to explore new export markets

Miraa farmers and traders from Nyambene region in Meru County are requesting the National government to act fast and look for Miraa markets in other countries.

According to the farmers and the traders, they have undergone extreme losses after miraa markets were closed in London, Netherlands and Somalia.

They requested the Agriculture Minister CS Peter Munya who comes from Meru County to form a Miraa board just like he has done to coffee and Tea in the new regulations.

They said with a Miraa board as farmers and traders they will be able to lobby for more markets outside the county adding that they wholly rely on the crop for their livelihood.

Miraa traders from the region last month lost an estimated Ksh 5 million after the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) warned that the herb remains illegal in the country.

Excited by the latest restoration of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia, the traders had ordered about 12 tonnes of miraa destined for Somalia via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

But SCAA Director-General Ahmed Hassan, in a letter addressed to cargo operators, said the Federal Government of Somalia’s policy on the transportation of miraa to the country’s airports had not changed.

In June 2014 UK, home to one of khat’s biggest markets declared the stimulant a class C drug and banned all imports, prompting Nyambene rapid descent into economic purgatory.

Since the early 1990s, Britain imported between 2,500 to 2,800 tonnes a year.

In 2013, The Netherlands, which was the then biggest foreign market for Miraa banned its sale prompting an outcry from Kenyan traders.

Meru as a county has 1.7 to 1.8 million people. A majority rely on the miraa trade. That kind of population with no jobs is a serious problem in this area and the country as a whole.

By Jeff Mwangi


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