Govt offers support for miraa farmers

The government has assured miraa (khat) farmers in Meru of support in looking for alternative markets, two years after the crop was banned in some European Union countries.

“We are putting in funds this financial year and I want to tell farmers that right from the top, we are looking at the miraa question with a lot of seriousness,” said Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett.

Mr Bett was responding to a question by Meru’s Nominated MCA Julius Kirinya at the ongoing Third Annual Devolution Conference.

The CS said the government is committed to saving the source of livelihood for thousands of farmers. Miraa is the main economic mainstay of farmers especially in Nyambene area.

“We will also look at alternative and additional crops to plant that will ensure so that as markets become more difficult for miraa, the community who have been depending on it don’t suffer,” he said.

Mr Bett asked the National Assembly to fast-track making amendments in a Bill that seeks to make miraa a schedule crop.

“We think the Bill will be assented to soon. We longer want miraa to be viewed as a drug but as crop that helps the community get revenue,” he said.

A ban on the commodity by the United Kingdom took effect on June 24, 2014.

VALUE FOR PRODUCE

In February last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was aware of the tribulations the farmers were undergoing and promised his government would look for new markets for the commodity to help farmers get value for their produce.

Meru Governor Peter Munya, who has been vocal on the miraa issue, has several times urged the national government to have the World Trade Organisation resolve the matter as a trade dispute between Kenya and the European Union.

The crop is an important cultural crop in Meru County particularly for the Igembe and Tigania areas.

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