Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has accused the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) of giving inconsistent opinions on whether miraa is a narcotic drug or a cash crop.
Linturi said that the miraa sector contributes significantly to the livelihoods of farmers in Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties.
He regretted that the sector faced challenges including price fluctuations and a lack of standardized handling of miraa and miraa products.
Appearing before the Senate Delegated Legislation Committee for the consideration of the Miraa Regulations Bill in Nairobi yesterday, Linturi said that the Nacada leadership has on some occasions given the cash crop a clean bill of health but also turned around and classified it as a narcotic drug.
“I would like to inform farmers in Meru, Embu and Tharaka Nithi that the government fully supports miraa crop which is an important cash crop for the area residents, that is why it has come up with these regulations which intend to ensure that their interests are well safeguarded,” he said.
He said to appreciate the role of the county governments in the miraa industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Council of Governors (CoG) have agreed that the Cabinet Secretary publishes amendments to the Miraa Regulation 2023 incorporating the proposals by CoG within nine months of the approval of regulations by Parliament.
Linturi told the committee that the ministry is working towards the immediate review of the Crops Act (2013) in order to align with the Constitution and emerging trends and development of administrative instruments to provide for the role of the county governments in the development, promotion and regulation of the miraa sector.
Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka who is the CoG Agriculture Committee Chairman said the Ministry of Agriculture and CoG have agreed to set up a technical committee to fast-track implementation of the resolutions within nine months.
“We have noted in particular that the functions assigned to the national government are agriculture policy, international trade, capacity building and technical assistance to the counties and the functions assigned to the county governments being crop and animal husbandry, plant and animal disease control and trade development and regulation including trade licences,” said Dr Lusaka.
The Committee Chairman Tharaka Nithi Senator Mwenda Gataya said that there was need to assure farmers that miraa was not a narcotic drug since it is a very important crop among the Meru community where it is used for cultural purposes and it has not affected anyone negatively.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said that middlemen have been disenfranchising farmers for a long time and there was need to engage the Ministry of Interior to declassify miraa as a narcotic drug and be recognized fully as a cash crop.
Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo said that it was high time that the Nacada came out clearly on the exact classification of miraa to cater for the interests of the farmers.