Government to petition UK to lift ban on miraa – Uhuru
President Uhuru Kenyatta wound up his two-day tour of Meru in Nyambene by assuring miraa farmers of the government’s commitment to saving their source of livelihood.
President Kenyatta said he was aware of the tribulations the farmers were undergoing especially after the United Kingdom slapped a ban on the commodity. The ban took effect on June 24, 2014.
Speaking in Mikinduri, Mutuati, Laare and Maua towns where the crop is largely grown, he said the government would continue to petition the British government to review the ban on miraa.
“We know there have been problems because of the ban. We have put emphasis on this issue and I want to assure Meru residents that it is the government’s responsibility to see to it that this problem is resolved,” he said.
The head of State said they would look for new markets for the commodity to help farmers get value for their produce.
He directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that farmers in the miraa growing zones diversify to other crops to stop over-reliance on the stimulant.
Meru Governor Peter Munya urged the national government to have the World Trade Organisation resolve the matter as a trade dispute between Kenya and the European Union.
“The ban was in disregard of the international trade laws that allow for free trade and reciprocal treatment. It was inappropriate to ban miraa,” Munya said.
The crop has been an important cultural crop in Meru County particularly for the Igembe and Tigana areas.
Last year, lawmakers from the region travelled to the UK to lobby against the ban arguing that it was unjustified.
But the government went ahead and prohibited its use and consumption despite the UK House of Common’s Home Affairs Select Committee pushing for the lifting of the ban on miraa.
Following the ban, traders and farmers were forced to look for alternative and new market to keep the business afloat.
At the same time, the president raised concern over claims that some businessmen involved in the trade were behind smuggling of illegal firearms in the country.
He said the government would clamp down on such rogue traders who were derailing efforts to improve security in the country.
“If we are to allow the transportation of miraa at night then we will require your help in identifying criminals disguising as miraa traders to ferry illegal firearms. Let the public volunteer this information to the police,” Mr Kenyatta said.
The president said the government would resolve the border dispute between Meru and Isiolo counties believed to fuel insecurity along the common border.
He said a team of surveyors from both Meru and Isiolo counties as well as those from the national government would be dispatched to the region to fast track the demarcation of the border.
“We believe by doing so this will end the rampant cases of insecurity such as cattle rustling and other forms of crime,” he said.
Nyambene region was also rewarded with two new sub-counties, Tigania Central and Igembe Central with the president assuring that administrators will be posted to the region soon.
“This is in line with the national government’s efforts to have residents access crucial services without having to go to far flung places,” he said when he addressed Mikinduri residents.
Earlier on, the president who was accompanied by several MPs and senators visited the ongoing tarmacking of the Miathene-Mikinduri road in Tigania West that is being built by the county government using cheap Malaysian technology known as Probase Standard.
He noted works on Mwithaga and Kingirwa Irrigation projects in Tigania West would start soon to help the county be food secure.
Several dams, he said, would also be constructed in Nyamebene and Mt Kenya to solve the perennial water shortage that has hit parts of the county.
Residents of Maili Tatu, Laare and Maua also benefitted with issuance of land title deeds.
Land Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu who had also accompanied the president issued 21,470 title deeds in Maili Tatu in Igembe Central sub-county.
“We know you are hardworking people and the government will do its part and you can undertake the rest so that you can be food secure,” Mr Kenyatta said at Kagaene where he flagged off trucks with relief food to be distributed to drought stricken areas in Meru.