Lobby decries ‘persistent onslaught’ against miraa
What you need to know:
- Miraa traders have had to make do with a shrinking local market amid competition from muguka.
- Farmers have suffered losses, estimated to be over Sh16 million daily, according to Nyamita.
A trade lobby has cried foul over a sustained onslaught against miraa in the continent even as the government attempts to promote the crop.
Since the loss of the Somalia market over a year ago, miraa traders have had to make do with a shrinking local market amid competition from muguka, which is mainly grown in Embu county.
While lauding the recent directive by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to waive cess of Sh45,000 charged per truck, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said ‘anti-khat legislations’ are increasingly being enforced in the continent.
Since the stimulant was banned in Somalia, farmers have suffered losses, estimated to be over Sh16 million daily, according to Nyamita.
Mr Munjuri said despite several promises by the Kenyan government to engage Tanzania on export of the stimulant, the neighbouring country’s Parliament last month passed a Bill making possession of khat a criminal offence.
“We heard Raila Odinga promising to follow up the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), Tanzania and Somali markets but they should keep abreast with the developments. Many of our traders are in jail in Tanzania; the law has made it criminal to deal in khat. The government needs to move with speed to avert total loss,” Mr Munjuri said.
He said the national government is dragging its feet on securing new miraa markets in Israel, Yemen, Djibouti, Somaliland and Mozambique.
“Kenya should first open the Somalia border to trade as diplomatic talks continue. We can be doing business through the border as we wait for a lasting solution,” he said.
During a visit in Meru last week, Trade and Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary Lawrence Karanja said the ministry had sent delegations to Djibouti and DRC as part of actualisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“Delegations from these two countries will also soon visit Meru and see for themselves where miraa comes from so that when they make a decision to allow the imports they will do so from an informed point of view,” Mr Karanja said.
There are also plans of holding a miraa conference in Nairobi where stakeholders are expected to explore ways of value addition, according to Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.
Mr Munjuri also called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to engage his Malawi counterpart Lazarus Chakwera, who is in Kenya for a three-day State visit, over cancellation of a miraa import permit by the Southeastern country in 2018.