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Meru farmers threaten to ditch Jubilee for neglecting miraa

By Phares Mutembei | Published Sat, December 17th 2016 at 11:50, Updated December 17th 2016 at 11:56 GMT +3
Workers harvest miraa at a farm near Kangeta market in Meru County. PHOTO: FILE

MERU: Miraa farmers in the Nyambene region have demanded to be told how the Sh1 billion allocated to a task force on Miraa was utilised.

The farmers said the money was meant to cushion them from the after-effects of the ban of the crop in European markets but they had not seen a single cent.

They threatened to turn miraa into a 2017 political issue if the Jubilee Government does not explain how the task force it appointed to look into the miraa issue.

"We would really like Deputy President William Ruto, who is a frequent visitor to Meru, to talk about the Sh1 billion and how the task force used it. Miraa farmers did not benefit in any way from that money and need an explanation," said Mike Makarena, on behalf of the concerned farmers whose incomes plummeted after the ban took effect in June 2014.

He said farmers were also voters and were keen to know what the government was doing to rescue them from poverty as the effects of the ban of the stimulant continue to bite.

"When we talk about miraa we are talking about a very important crop. While we thank President Kenyatta for forming the task force and allocating Sh1 billion to revitalise production, value addition and marketing of the crop, we wanted it spent to directly benefit farmers," said Makarena who was flanked by farmers representatives.

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Makarena said farmers in the main miraa-growing areas in northern Meru were a disillusioned lot as exports of the crop to different overseas destinations ensured they did not lack.

"Miraa is going to be a serious campaign issue and that is why we want the Jubilee Government to tell farmers how the money allocated to the taskforce, was spent. It was their money and a satisfactory explanation is necessary," Makarena said.