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Miraa farmers set for Sh2.2 billion cushion from government

Beth Mbaya for Meru County Tourism Directorate displays khat (Miraa) Meru’s ‘Green Gold’ on the second day of the ongoing East Africa Tourism Expo at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre,Nairobi. Photo/Elvis Ogina (Nairobi) October 13th,2016.

Miraa farmers are set to receive Sh2.2 billion from the Government to address the challenges facing the sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that Sh1.2 billion be released to implement the recommendations of the task force that looked into the woes of the farmers. This is in addition to the Sh1 billion set aside in the budget read last week by Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich.

In recommendations contained in a report presented to the President, the farmers want the Government to engage the UN to address the ban that has affected thousands of livelihoods in the miraa-growing areas. The crop is mostly grown in Meru, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, and Isiolo counties.

“The Government should request the UN for an interpretation or an advisory opinion on the convention that classified miraa as containing two substances that have negative effects on human health,” reads the report.

Since the export ban by some European countries, miraa farmers have been seeking Government intervention to have the embargo lifted.

For some time now, the issue has assumed political dimensions, with both the Government and the Opposition taking up the crop as a campaign tool to woo the growers and the traders as the August General Election beckons.

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President Kenyatta has dwelt on the miraa topic in all his visits to Meru, as has ODM leader Raila Odinga, who has promised to intercede to have the ban lifted. A week ago, British High Commissioner Nic Hailey said the ban on the crop still stands in the European Union.

Mr Hailey said the UK government will seek alternative livelihoods for the farmers.

 

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