The High Court in Meru has issued interim orders barring the implementation of Miraa Task Force report and the release of Sh1.2 billion meant for development of the sector.
The implementation committee on development of miraa industry chaired by Geoffrey Nchooro M’mwenda has also been barred from performing its duties until the matter is determined.
Justice Alfred Mabeya issued the orders that will be in force until September 28.
Three traders suing on behalf Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) moved to court claiming the task force transformed into an implementation committee without consultation with stakeholders and Meru county government.
Lawyers Laichena Mugambi holding brief for Ayeko Kangethe for the petitioners and Frank Walukwe for the county government told the court the money may be spent since President Uhuru Kenyatta gazetted the names of the committee on Friday.
“We are seeking from the court to restrain the government from releasing the money because if it’s released the suit before this court will be rendered useless,” argued Walukwe.
They asked the court to issue conservatory orders to stop the taskforce through undisclosed and unidentified Sacco.
The petitioners including Kimathi Munjuri, Jacob Miriti, and Naftaly Kathurima further argue that release of Sh1.2 billion as ordered by the president may not serve the best interest of Miraa farmer, traders and residents of khat growing areas.
Those listed as respondents include head of public service and Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua, Finance CS, Agriculture CS and the Attorney General.
They want the respondents or their representatives barred from releasing Sh1.2 billion for the implementation of the task-force report ‘through undisclosed and unidentified Saccos until the matter is heard and determined.
“That…..an order be issued directing that the Sh1.2 billion for the implementation of the Taskforce report be channeled through the county government of Meru pending the hearing and determination of the application,” the petition reads.
In a sworn affidavit, Munjuri argues that the challenges facing the Miraa industry should be addressed in consultative forums at both levels of government.
“The report by the task-force does not reflect the views, concerns and the interests of the Miraa Traders Association, and especially the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association, the stakeholders, farmers and the county government of Meru,” the petitioners state.
They argue that implementation of the report would violate several constitutional provisions including functions of county government and public participation.
The taskforce made recommendations for provision of seed capital for farmers to access affordable credit, aimed at redemption of leased miraa farms to break the cycle of poverty.
The government will facilitate the setting up of Saccos so that growers can access the credit in an organised manner.
The State says it is planning to set up a scientific study at the Kenya Medical Research Institute with a view to developing a scientific basis for lobbying against the restrictions imposed on the crop in parts of Europe.
The task force also recommended registration of miraa farmers to facilitate target intervention and eliminate possibility of fraud.
The report says a farmer-controlled agency styled along the lines of similar bodies for other cash crops should be formed.
Establishment of Miraa Research Institute and support for research on the development of various new miraa products and utilisations is another of the immediate recommendations.
The report also calls for lifting of all restrictions on the transportation of Miraa at Kenyan airports. They said currently, it is only Wilson Airport where there are no restrictions on the crop.