Gov’t releases Ksh 1.2B to improve miraa profitability

Gov't releases Ksh 1.2B to improve miraa profitability
Vehicles transporting Miraa from Meru to Nairobi. Photo/FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the government to release Ksh 1.2 billion to implement recommendations to improve the profitability of miraa farming.

The President issued the directive after a Task Force he formed to give recommendations on the miraa sector presented its report to him at State House, Nairobi.

Besides the Ksh 1.2 billion being released for implementing the recommendations, the government has also allocated another Ksh 1 billion, in the budget that was presented last week, for promoting the miraa sector.

President Kenyatta said all priority recommendations by the task force should be implemented within the year.

“The Ksh 1.2 billion that was allocated will now be released and it will be used in accordance with the recommendations of the task force,” said the President when he spoke after the report was presented to him.

Key among the immediate recommendations of the Miraa Task force is providing seed capital for farmers to access affordable credit.

This is aimed at redemption of leased miraa farms to break the cycle of poverty. The Government will facilitate the setting up of SACCOs so that farmers can access the credit in an organised manner.

The government will also set up a scientific study at KEMRI in collaboration with the EU with a view of developing a scientific basis for getting the restrictions lifted on the crop in parts of Europe.

Another immediate recommendation is the registration of miraa farmers to facilitate target intervention and eliminate possibility of fraud.

The report also says a farmer controlled agency styled along the lines of similar agencies for other crops should be formed.

Establishment of Miraa Research Institute (M.R.I) 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.

President Kenyatta said the same task force that worked on the report will be transformed to become an implementing committee.

He directed the Head of Public Service and Chief of Staff, Joseph Kinyua, to have a meeting with the team so that they can embark on their new duties immediately.

“Some of the recommendations here are straightforward and can even be implemented immediately. That work should start today,” said the President.

Leaders from Miraa growing areas led by Senator Kiraitu Murungi, who attended the meeting, said the President’s gesture to elevate the status of Miraa was appreciated by those who depend on the crop.

“Of all the Presidents Kenya has had, you have elevated Miraa to its highest standard and we hope that under your leadership we will be able to witness the introduction of modern ways of processing the product,” said the Senator.

The chairman of the Task Force, Nchooro M’Mwenda, said they had conducted all required consultations and he is confident the implementation of the report will see lost markets recovered.

Other leaders who attended the meeting included Tigania East MP Mpuri Aburi, Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi and Igembe North MP Joseph M’eruaki.

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