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State asked to review miraa classification to access markets

Miraa farmers and traders in Nyambene region of Meru County want the government to move swiftly in reviewing the classification of the crop as a drug in order to fetch more markets outside the country.

Through their union; Miraa growers and traders’ cooperative union, the farmers said this was the only remaining stumbling block in accessing international markets for the crop also known as Khat.

The Union’s Chairman Mr Moses Lichoro thanked President William Ruto for expressing his concern in the crop’s business but said this should start with declassifying it as a drug as it stands at the moment.

Mr Lichoro added that the National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) still refers to miraa as a drug, a move that prompted a similar move by other countries including the United Kingdom, Netherlands among other major international markets who barred the use and sale of the substance.

“We know the President is a busy man and we are therefore calling on our political leaders from this county to make a follow up and ensure a review of the crop’s classification. The ‘hard drug’ label it bears at the moment is not supported by any scientific evidence,” said Mr Lichoro.

He added that last year, the union through the efforts of the county government of Meru and the ministry of agriculture made productive trips to Djibouti and Congo where they secured a sizable market for the crop but cannot access it due to lack of a direct airline to the two countries.

“We are pleased that Djibouti and Congo agreed to buy at least ten and five tonnes of Miraa on a daily basis but this will not happen until we get a direct airline to the country. We are therefore calling on our President to intervene by securing us an airline to make the market a reality,” said Mr Lichoro.

He also called on the President to fulfill his promise of dealing with miraa cartels who have already bedeviled the sub sector to the disadvantage of the farmers.

Ms Suset Kagwiria, a member of the union thanked the Kenya Kwanza government for expressing concern on Miraa farming which she said will soon bear fruits.

She called on the farmers to be prepared to venture into serious Miraa farming considering that good times lie ahead.

“Miraa has been the backbone of our economy in this region and we are encouraging our farmers to keep on moving as plans are at an advanced stage to revive the sub-sector,” said Ms Kagwiria.

By Dickson Mwiti

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