Miraa farmers and traders in Meru County have appealed to the county and national government to take advantage of the prevailing good will between Kenya and Tanzania to lobby for the miraa market in Tanzania.
Led by a miraa farmer and traders from Nyambene miraa growing area in Meru county, Ngozi Miriti, the farmers said the two levels of government had an obligation to embark on a mission to convince other governments that miraa was a cash crop like coffee, tea and tobacco among others against the misinformation that miraa was a dangerous drug to the human body.
Miriti said countries which had condemned miraa as an addictive drug should be urged to initiate research programmes to ascertain the claims, saying anything consumed by a human being has the potential of adversely affecting the human body systems if abused or consumed in excess.
He said many people known to have consumed tea, coffee and tobacco products for a long time were living with addictions.
‘It remains the responsibility of an individual to control the intake of anything they think of consuming to remain safe and healthy,’ Miriti said.
The miraa farmers cum traders cited discrimination against the miraa crop by some countries, adding that many people were living with alcohol addiction worldwide yet the products had not been condemned.
Miriti said concerted efforts and mutual understanding among key players in the farming and marketing miraa as a cash crop was the way to cushion farmers in miraa growing areas in Meru County and other areas from abject poverty.
He lamented that since miraa markets were closed in several countries, many people have been suffering from socio-economic related health conditions to an extent of having some of them succumbing after being unable to take care of the basic family provisions. Lack of regular income had also triggered family breakups at the expense of education and general community development
‘Miraa has been a source of income for many families in miraa farming areas for many years and convincing such people to venture into any other income generating activity was an uphill task.’ Miriti said.
Miriti said miraa farmers would not tire from appealing to the county government to support miraa value addition initiatives, saying although chewing miraa has been for leisure and pleasure for many years, recent sampling and testing of the crop had confirmed the potential of processing the product into juice and sweets.
He further urged the ministry of trade to work with other relevant players in the two levels of government to explore means of having bilateral talks with the government of Tanzania on the possibility of legalizing miraa and opening its market in the country.
By Makaa Margaret