Kenya seeks UN help in lifting ban on exporting of miraa

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Willy Bett address the media on June 13, 2017 after he met with Miraa farmers in Nyambene region at Maua Polytechnic. The CS said that passengers should not be restricted to board local planes with miraa, stating that such orders were a thing of the past. Photo by Peter Muthomi

The national government has promised a raft of measures to help the ailing miraa sector.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett told miraa farmers that the Government has petitioned the UN for the interpretation of a convention on drug trade that European nations had used to ban miraa exports.

Mr Bett said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would make a follow-up on the appeal.

“If the interpretation favours Kenya that miraa is not a psychotic drug, then the Government will ask these countries to remove the restrictions,” Bett told the farmers.

This was one of the proposals by a team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into matters concerning miraa farming.

The CS did not, however, say how long it would take to have the issue arbitrated by the UN.

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The CS announced that the Government would establish the Kenya Miraa Development Authority, to be headquartered in Maua town.

“The authority’s board will be dominated by representatives of miraa farmers,” the CS said, adding that a miraa desk had been established at the Agriculture Food and Fisheries Authority to help regulate the sector.

“We will also establish a miraa research organisation at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro). In the meantime, we have asked Kalro and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service to solve the problem of pests and diseases,” he said.

In what was seen as an effort to appease Meru voters, Bett said the Government planned to streamline the transportation of miraa by air.

“I do hope you can see what the Government has done for the sub-sector and show your appreciation when the time comes,” the CS said, which could be interpreted to be in reference to the August 8 General Election.

But the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association dismissed Bett’s explanations and insisted that farmers’ plight had not been addressed.

“We have many concerns, including the failure to address the plight of traders affected by the ban and the haphazard way that a census of miraa farmers was carried out,” said Nyamita’s Kimathi Munjuri.

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