Miraa farmers who has been desperate about finding alternative markets after their crops were banned in the UK and the Netherlands last two years, are about to receive government support through funding.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the allocation of Sh1 billion to the miraa farmers to help them recover from the hash effect of international ban of their commodity.
The presidency took to this decision following pressure from Meru leaders who demanded action after the crop was banned.
Speaking at State House, Nairobi, where he signed into law a Bill that will categorize miraa (khat) as a cash crop, Uhuru said he had instructed the Cabinet to include funds to support miraa, like other cash crops in their last week discussed budgetary priorities for the next financial year.
The amendments which was done through the Mediated Version of the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill No 2 the Crops Act can be interpreted to mean that the national government can establish mechanisms for promotion, production, distribution and marketing of Miraa as a cash crop.
With the amended Crops Act, Miraa will benefit from government budgetary funding.
Speaking on this, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett assures the farmers of quick response from by the cabinet on the issue.
“We are putting in funds this financial year and I want to tell farmers that right from the top, we are looking at the miraa question with a lot of seriousness.”
The historical assent, witnessed by Deputy President William Ruto and political leadership from Meru, gives legal backing for farmers and traders to grow, harvest and sell miraa produce in the country without any hindrances.
Uhuru said the funds will be availed through the ministry of Agriculture. According to him, the Agriculture CS Willy Bett and Meru leaders have been directed to agree on the mode of disbursement.
He further said he regretted the tribulations which farmers are undergoing since the ban and assured them of government support but that a new task force has been directed to look into issues affecting miraa farmers.
According to him, while leaders have a right to exercise competitive politics, they should tell Kenyans the truth for the sake of unity and tangible development.
He said the Jubilee government remains committed to fulfilling its development pledges to Kenyans and will not be distracted by the empty talk of Opposition leaders.
Meanwhile, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, woman representative Florence Kajuju and the Meru Parliamentary Group chairman Mithika Linturi has related their sincere appreciation to the President for his efforts to revive the sub-sector.
“We are happy with your government for addressing the development concerns of the Meru people in terms of infrastructure development, construction of dams and issuance of title deeds,” they told the President.