KENYA – The government of Kenya is looking to scale profitability in Miraa (Khat) business in the country by reclassifying the crop from harmful substances to facilitate its exclusion from adverse classification by the anti-drug abuse agency, National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA).

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua guaranteed the Miraa farmers that the government will work tirelessly to help them enhance their incomes.

“We will appoint a few farmers from Meru to go abroad and look for more markets of the crop,” he said. “Those who are talking about Miraa [should] leave Miraa alone; it is a cash crop.”

NACADA, executing the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act of 1994, has classified Miraa as a harmful substance based on the two substances found in Khat, which are Cathine and Cathinone.

Gachagua’s reassurances follow mixed reactions from Miraa farmers in Meru County to the publication of the Crops (Miraa) Regulations 2023, implementing the Miraa Levy.

The regulations are expected to regulate the production and trade of the lucrative stimulant crops, while at the same time ensuring the production of quality miraa for local and export markets.

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) delayed the implementation of the Miraa Levy as proper frameworks were still being developed.

Now that the AFA’s e-platform, an Integrated Management Information System, is running, the agency, through its Acting General Willis Audi, notified that the Miraa levy has been implemented.

While consumers fear the cost of miraa might go up, some traders and leaders from miraa growing zones have welcomed the introduction of the levy, arguing that it will boost the sub-sector.

Nyambene Miraa Farmers and Traders Association (Nyamita) and Igembe Central MP Dan Kiili are among those who have welcomed the announcement, saying that was proof that the national government was prioritizing developing the miraa sub-sector.

“Let us pay so that the State can recognize us as partners. In any case, we are paying only Sh3 per kilo and it is only on export products,” said Kiili, assuring other players along the value chain that the levy was good, and it was only affecting exported miraa.

Similarly, Munjuri said that even if it is being charged on miraa crop exports at Sh7 per kilo, they were satisfied because it was now recognized as other scheduled crops.

He said the levy will enable the Miraa Directorate domiciled in the Ministry of Agriculture to look for markets and introduce the best farming practices informed by scientifically tested and proven methods.

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