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Hope as State explores new markets for miraa

NEWS
By Edwin Gitonga | October 8th 2021
Bundles of miraa twigs. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

There is hope of new markets for miraa farmers as negotiations between Kenya and Djibouti reach the final stage.

Two other African countries are also showing promising potential in opening up market for the product.

Speaking during his visit to Meru County, Trade, Industry and Enterprise Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Lawrence Karanja said talks between Kenya and Djibouti are at an advanced stage.

Mr Karanja said a final delegation from Djibouti will be visiting the country and possibly Meru in the coming weeks.

“I know in the next two weeks Djibouti’s Minister for Trade will be visiting Kenya and we hope to bring him here so that he could see how miraa is grown,” he said.

Trade Chief Administrative Secretary Lawrence Karanja. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The CAS also said the government will also hold talks with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) in a bid to have miraa back in the international market.

“There is also another market we are trying to open in DRC. We were there three weeks ago and we will be going back there so as to expand the miraa market,” he said.

In June, a delegation from Kenya that included miraa traders visited Djibouti in an effort to negotiate for a market for the commodity in the Horn of Africa country.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said there will be a national miraa conference this month in Nairobi.

He said the conference will address issues such as research on miraa and value addition of the stimulant. 

“I would like to thank Karanja (CAS) and his team for supporting us in that conference and Kemri (Kenya Medical Research Institute), which is also leading a team of scientists to show there is nothing wrong with miraa,” Kiraitu said.

According to the governor, miraa is just a stimulant like any other and it is unfair to see some countries treat it as a hard drug because when used properly it serves the same purpose as alcohol, which can also be dangerous when abused.

Kiraitu hoped that value addition of miraa will help in convincing more nations to open up their markets for it.

In March 2020, the Somali government banned miraa trading in the country in what it termed as measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

More than one and half years later, the sale of miraa in Somalia has not resumed, leaving farmers and traders counting losses since it is the only remaining international market left for the Meru green gold.

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