Embu miraa farmers fight tag of khat variety as bhang

Khat farmers in Embu condemn remarks that muguka has similar effects to bhang. [Photo, Standard]

Khat farmers and traders in Embu have condemned East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA)  member Mpuri Aburi’s remarks that their stimulant-muguka- has similar effects to bhang, hence Embu should not get a share of the Sh1 billion miraa kitty.

They demanded that Aburi withdraws the statement within 24 hours and issues an unconditional apology.

Led by Mbeerembu Miraa farmers chairman Jervasius Nyombyekothe and Mbeere South MP Geoffrey King’ang’i, the hundreds of farmers who congregated at Muraru market warned that if Aburi does not apologise they would retaliate.

Nyombyekothe who is a member of the National Technical team implementing the task force report on miraa, threatened that they would boycott miraa transport vehicles operated by traders from Meru.

“We are angered by Aburi’s statement and will boycott trading with them. If they continue fighting our muguka we will not allow their miraa pickups to pass through Embu,” he said.

He said the Sh1 billion miraa kitty the President allocated to miraa farmers in Embu, Tharaka-Nithi and Meru counties and the classification of khat as a cash crop was a clear indication that it is not bhang or a drug.

King’ang’i said claims that muguka is bhang would lead to shrinkage of its market further, at a time when counties such as Mombasa and Kilifi were trying to ban khat.

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“Our business is legal. It provides income for thousands of people who are now able to educate their children while the region has grown economically. We will take every step to protect our business. For that reason Aburi must apologise to us,” he said.

He said the recent fall of a kilogram of muguka from highs of 800 to lows of Sh250 could be as a result Aburi’s statement.

MCAs Ngari Mbaka and Muriithi Kiura said muguka has for decades been chewed by Embu people who lead healthy lives without any complications.

Kiura said Embu and Meru are not in competition over trade of the different varieties that each region produces hence all should live and let live.

Mbaka said Aburi as EALA MP should protect the interests of all Kenyans and seek for market for Kenya produce across East Africa instead of fighting Embu farmers.

The leaders said they will use Embu’s share of Sh167 million from the miraa kitty to build market sheds for muguka and to construct earth dams and water pans.

Meru had the lion’s share of Sh670 million, while Tharaka-Nithi was allocated Sh42 million.

In a public forum in Meru County last week, Aburi said muguka is similar to bhang hence (Embu) region that grow it should not allocated a share of the miraa kitty.

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Mpuri AburiEmbumiraaMbeere South