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Explainer: Difference between Muguka and Miraa

  Peter Chomba harvests Muguka from his farm in Mugamba Ciura within Kirinyaga county, June 1, 2021. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The ban on Muguka by Mombasa and Kilifi counties has elicited massive reactions among Kenyans with a section of farmers from Embu county staging demos in protest of the decision.

With the debate on whether to ban or protect the produce raging, many Kenyans have been left confused about whether muguka is the same as miraa or whether there is a difference between the two.

Despite the two being variants of Khat, serving the same stimulant action, the two differ in terms of how they are harvested and chewed.

When it comes to harvesting, the muguka farmers pluck the leaves while miraa farmers pluck the stem, exactly what the consumers consume.

For miraa, it takes seven to eight years for the khat plant to reach its full height and is mainly grown in Meru.

The plants are watered heavily starting around a month before they are harvested to make the leaves and stems soft and moist.

A good miraa plant can be harvested four times a year, providing a year-long source of income for the farmer.

However, the crop hugely depends on moderate rainfall to continue sprouting, meaning that during dry seasons, a price hike is likely to be experienced.

Muguka on the other hand is a fast-growing crop mostly cultivated in Embu County.

It is less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions and is said to use about half as much water as maize, making it easy to cultivate throughout different seasons.

Further, muguka’s potency chemicals are high compared to that found in the miraa’s stem making it a higher stimulant than the latter, explaining its popularity among local users.

However, both have similar effects among them hyper activeness which is popular among users.

The two can also cause anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and loss of energy.

Other severe side effects include migraine, bleeding in the brain heart attack, changes to blood vessels, lung problems, liver damage, and changes in sex drive and sexual performance.

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