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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kenya: Meru’s cry over European ban of miraa

Netherlands has formerly stopped importation of Miraa from Kenya
For more than a year we have been telling you stories that have been shaping up events in Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties. We look forward to telling you more of what went unreported on the slopes of the Mt. Kenya.
A public outcry has emerged over the ban of Miraa exports to the Netherlands and another pending ban in sixteen other European countries a move which they say is expected to cripple the economy of Meru County ahead of the formation of county governments.
Several residents of Meru interviewed projected a political sabotage, bad use of the product and unfounded allegations by the Netherlands government saying worse habits like prostitution and smoking of bhang are allowed in their country yet in Kenya they are illegal.
According to Florence Kajuju from Tigania East, the first step towards salvaging the crop is having it classified under the Cash crop category in the Agricultural Act unlike as it is classified under the horticultural category.
She said its wrong for the Neherlands Government to classify Miraa as a class C drug same as Opium and steroids because residents of Meru County have been chewing it since time immemorial and have never suffered any ailments neither have they been unable to perform any duties.
“The question is whether miraa is a stimulant. This ban will affect the economy of the Meru County because 99 percent of Nyambene residents rely on miraa to earn their daily livelihood and educate their kids. This government of the Netherlands is out to punish the people of Meru because of a product that is God Given as a green gold”, she said.
According to John Micheni from Maara Constituency, the Dutch government is not genuine with the ban because for the last four years there has been more than Sh. 2 billion traded through sale of Miraa between Kenya and Netherlands.
“The only option we have left is for the Kenyan government to lobby with that of Netherlands because if the remaining 16 European countries follow the same suit then we can kiss the Miraa farming business goodbye”, said Micheni.
In his words a prominent Miraa exporter Dan Aritho from Igembe Central Constituency said Nyambene region is expected to generate more than 60 percent of the Meru County income and 80 percent of its income is generated from miraa sales.
He defended miraa as a mild stimulant that has been classified by the World Health Organization as a mild drug.
“If you extract the same amount of caffeine from coffee and Miraa, the caffeine levels in coffee are higher and those in miraa are very mild”, said Aritho.
Elsewhere former Igembe North MP Maoka Maore expressed concerns that there could be a political master hand in the ban from people who could be fronting their own interests to have the exports banned so that they can claim to negotiate and have the ban lifted.
“This is not the first time, in 1978 the Jomo Kenyatta government banned sale of Miraa to Somalia so that we could go and plant it in Gatundu but the climatic conditions could not allow. In 2006 the National Security Council also blamed the war in Somalia on Miraa trade but we lobbied and had the ban lifted”, said Maoka.
He called upon the political leaders and all other concerned officials to take part in salvaging the miraa market.

Source: Word Press

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