Miraa is increasingly becoming the carrot that politicians are dangling ahead of the August 8 polls.
Last weekend, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga said if elected President, his government would guarantee miraa farmers a market for the cash crop.
Raila, who spoke after meeting Meru leaders, said his government would also prioritise the establishment of first-class transport infrastructure to enable miraa to get to the markets.
Meru leaders at the meeting included former Cabinet minister Kirugi Laibon M’Mukindia and ODM Upper Eastern patron Mike ‘Makerena’ Mutembei.
Raila was accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa.
“Meru has some of the most fertile land and the best weather in this country. It produces high quality coffee, tea, vegetables, tubers and miraa, yet the people are poor because of bad leadership,” he said.
Raila promised that if elected, his government would hold a marketing drive to acquire lucrative markets for the crop and ensure that farmers got the best prices.
He said the development in Meru was part of a national master plan that sought to ensure that citizens increased their farm income and enjoyed better standards of living.
On infrastructure, the ODM leader said his government would prioritise the improvement of rural access roads to ensure that farm produce accessed markets at minimum costs.
He also took credit for the launch of the Meru County Master Plan, saying it was drawn up when he was the minister for roads and public works in the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) government.
“The roads that were done by the Kibaki government and continue to be undertaken by the Jubilee government were planned by us and prioritised by former Finance minister David Mwiraria and my (then) Permanent Secretary Erastus Mwongera,” said Raila.
He was responding to prompting by Mr M’Mukindia to tell Meru leaders what he would guarantee them if they supported his bid for the presidency in August.
M’Mukindia said Raila should be credited for influencing the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project, which passes through Meru.
“The tragedy is that since Jubilee took over, the projects appear to have been abandoned. This is why we are saying Raila is the only hope for this region,” said M’Mukindia.