Could This be The End for Miraa?

By Juma / Published June 7, 2016 | 7:31 am



Miraa Regulations

As one approaches Maua Town in Meru County, one would not fail to notice cars; pickups and probox models moving at a jet-like speed while leaving a cloud of dust behind.

One would also not fail to notice hawk-eyed drivers firmly behind the steering wheels as though their lives, that of their families and friends entirely depended on that steering wheel.

Almost every car moving at such a speed if usually loaded with tens of bags tightly tied sometimes with a human being or two on top. The cars are always either moving toward Nairobi or towards Garissa. 

A visitor may not understand what might be going on. He or she may assume that maybe the cars are just like other normal cars driven by ignorant drivers who have no idea what it means by traffic rules.

Those from Meru County know what such cars, moving at such a breakneck speed are carrying. Whenever they see them, they smile. Parents smile because they know their children will be in school and their pockets will be heavy with money.

The Green Gold

Welcome to the land of Miraa. To most of the locals here, it is not just called Miraa but it is gold, the green gold that has been the source of their real existence for generations. Miraa is deeply rooted in the hearts of many here than even the churches accept it as an offering. Some churches even take part in the farming activities too. It is Miraa or muguuga or veve, call it the way you want but that won’t change what it is, Miraa.

The Looming End

That was then, but now, the locals whose lives entirely depended on Miraa are worried and scared to the core. Their source of livelihood is headed to the world of no return. 

The old men converse in low tones as they throw glances here and there and although they do not want to loudly say it, they know that the end is near, the end to what they called source of life, their green gold.

Rain started beating the once vibrant lucrative business when the United Kingdom imposed a ban on Miraa. The United Kingdom was the major consumer of Miraa from Kenya. 

Read: Isiolo County: The Land of Undiscovered Opportunities

It is estimated that Kenya used to export more than 20 tonnes of Miraa every week valued at 1.4 million shillings to Britain. This means that more than 80 tonnes of Miraa used to fly out of Kenya to Britain every month bringing in more than 5.2 million shillings. 

The ban now left many farmers in limbo. They did not know what to do despite numerous assurances from the political class. The only available market was the local market and that of Somalia. 

Most of Miraa is consumed by the Somalis in Somalia but the insecurity in the country has made the business almost impossible. The terror group, Alshabaab is reigning terror in Somalia and most of the time the vehicles transporting Miraa are attacked. 

The roads to Somalia are also in a dilapidated condition making it hard to fast transport the highly perishable commodity. The local market on the other hand takes in only little Miraa leaving farmers with no other choice but counting losses.

Facts about the ban

There are various facts concerning the woes facing Miraa farming at the moment:

  • Britain is not going to lift the ban on Miraa.
  • The end to Miraa farming is coming to an end at a faster rate.
  • An alternative is urgently needed to take over the place of Miraa.
  • Politicians have no power at the moment to ensure that Miraa comes back to its initial glory.

Meru, the rich County

Meru is a very rich county that can support a wide range if horticultural crops such as tomatoes. It is now high time for the farmers who have been holding on Miraa to let it go and rethink on other major farming venues to survive.

Politicians have been promising locals that all shall be well soon and that Miraa will reclaim its diminishing glory. It is good to have hope but this hope being propagated by the political class if false hope. Miraa is dying and that is the truth.

The government

The government, instead of telling the farmers not to worry and continue farming Miraa, should now be thinking on how to heavily invest in changing the minds of many farmers in this area.

Many farmers here believe in Miraa, trying to turn them from Miraa is like trying to sent them to their early graves. A lot has to be done to educate them, to convince them and to change their way of thinking on Miraa and think of other alternatives that will help them soldier ahead with their farming life.

The government also, since most farmers have incurred untold losses from Miraa farming, should purpose to give them loans so as to set up other farming channels.

The end of Miraa is here, it is coming soon, it is coming fast and an alternative is urgently needed.

 




About Juma

Juma is an enthusiastic journalist who believes that journalism has power to change the world either negatively or positively depending on how one uses it.(020) 528 0222 or Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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