Miraa farmers urge government to explore new export markets – KBC
Miraa farmers and traders in Nyambene region in Meru county are calling on the national government to act quickly and seek out Miraa markets in other countries.
According to farmers and traders, they suffered extreme losses after the closure of miraa markets in London, the Netherlands and Somalia.
They asked Agriculture Minister CS Peter Munya, originally from Meru County, to form a Miraa board of directors, just as he did for coffee and tea in the new regulations.
They said that with a board of Miraa as farmers and traders, they would be able to lobby for more markets outside the county, adding that they were entirely dependent on the harvest for their livelihood.
Break new on your mobile as you go. SMS “NEWS” to 20153
Traders in the region’s Miraa lost around Ksh5million last month after the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) warned that weed remained illegal in the country.
Excited by the latest restoration of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia, traders had ordered around 12 tonnes of miraa destined for Somalia through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
But SCAA chief executive Ahmed Hassan, in a letter to freight operators, said Somalia’s federal government policy on transporting miraa to airports across the country had not changed.
In June 2014, the UK, home to one of the largest khat markets, declared the stimulant as a Class C drug and banned all imports, causing Nyambene to descend rapidly into economic purgatory.
Since the early 1990s, Britain has imported between 2,500 and 2,800 tonnes per year.
In 2013, the Netherlands, then the largest foreign market for Miraa, banned its sale, prompting an outcry from Kenyan traders.
Meru as a county has 1.7 to 1.8 million inhabitants. A majority rely on the miraa trade. This kind of jobless population is a serious problem in this region and across the country.
By Jeff Mwangi
Tell us what you think