Farmers Ask Kenyatta to Demand Miraa Report
By Judie Kaberia
Nairobi — Miraa farmers on Friday urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to demand for the report prepared by the task force on development of the miraa industry.
Nyambene Miraa Trade Association Spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said the deadline for submitting the report had lapsed, yet no word on its progress.
“On October 3, their term of being office expired. And the deadline of 14 days within which they were supposed to write a report had run out. It has been in office for three months, we have not seen anything,” Munjuri complained.
“Instead of them asking their term of office to be extended, they should be telling us what they did in those three months,” he demanded.
On June 17, President Kenyatta set up a 14-member team to handle issues affecting the miraa industry following a UK ban on the controversial crop.
The task force was mandated to make recommendations on strategies and interventions especially search for new markets to salvage the fast dwindling industry.
The task force was supposed to work within three months and prepare a report 14 days after its establishment in June this year.
According to Munjuri, the deadline had passed yet no word on the progress of its work, a concern he asked President Kenyatta to address.
The Chairman was further worried that delays and continuation of the task force sittings would dig into the Sh1billion set aside.
“The President has specifically said that the Sh1 billion was to mitigate the effects of the ban in Europe. How the taskforce ends up being funded from that fund we don’t understand,” he decried.
Munjuri also warned that there should be no further negative researches on miraa saying that already multiple researches had been commissioned – to discredit use of miraa.
According to him, a different research should be conducted to look into the positives of miraa.
“There has been a suggestion that part of that Sh1b billion should fund a research, there is a lot research on miraa already, let them ask where are the gaps. The government funded a university to do a literature review on the negatives of miraa – who is interested in the negative effects which are manageable to us?
“Why can’t they sponsor a research to find the positives of miraa and why people are so inclined only on the negatives,” he wondered.
He urged the government to make public research done by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) explaining that it was the most objective.
Munjuri further appealed to the government to formalise sale of miraa by ensuring that countries with which Kenya trades with sign formal agreements.
He said Ethiopia has formal agreements with Djibouti and Somaliland, a reason why their miraa markets thrive between the two countries.
One of the recommendations and advice given to miraa farmers was for them to exploit alternative crops as a substitute due to concerns over a shrinking market.
But according to Munjuri, uprooting miraa was not an option because it was the ‘livelihood’ of people in the area.
“It is very hard to have a substitute for gold. Let us instead look for how to mine that gold properly. They should tell us on how to improve our miraa and not how we can uproot.”
Kenya’s main market is now Somalia which only recently had a serious diplomatic row that saw the country close its market until President Kenyatta intervened.