British Chamber plans to lobby against miraa ban


A trader sorts miraa bundles. The EU's ban took effect on June 24, 2014. PHOTO | FILE |

The UK's Chamber of Commerce and Industry will lobby the United Kingdom to review the ban on miraa, its chairman Graham Shaw has said.

Speaking at the second Meru County International Investment Conference held at Kenya Methodist University, Mr Shaw said the chamber will also work to ensure that miraa farmers diversify to alternative crops to sustain their livelihoods.

“Although we cannot overrule the government, we will see how the decision can be changed. We cannot guarantee but I will take the matter forward,” Mr Shaw said.

He termed it unfair for some European countries to legalise harmful substances which he did not name and at the same time ban miraa.

Mr Shaw’s sentiments come after the European Union said it is unlikely to lift the ban on miraa. The ban took effect on June 24, 2014.

EU's Head of Political, Press and Information section Uwe Wissenbach recently said the counties involved had done thorough deliberations

Meru County Governor Peter Munya asked for the national government’s intervention in looking for new markets for the commodity to help farmers get value for their produce.

“We are told that there is a big miraa market in Congo and the semi-autonomous Somali Land state. We ask the government for bilateral intervention from their side,” Mr Munya said.

READ: UK ignores Uhuru miraa ban appeal

Deputy President William Ruto, who was also present the conference, assured miraa farmers of the government’s commitment to saving their source of livelihood.

“It shall be so done,” he said.

The crop has had an important economic and cultural place in Meru County, particularly for the Igembe and Tigania areas. Last year, lawmakers from the region travelled to the UK to lobby against the ban arguing that it was unjustified.

However, the British government went ahead and prohibited its use and consumption despite the UK House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee pushing for a lift of the ban on miraa.

Following the ban, traders and farmers were forced to look for alternative and new market to keep the business afloat.

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