Task force says miraa 'most taxed' crop in Kenya

A farmer picks miraa at Maili Tatu in Igembe Central on June 16, 2016 . FILE PHOTO | NMG
A farmer picks miraa at Maili Tatu in Igembe Central on June 16, 2016 . FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Miraa (khat) is the most taxed crop in Kenya, a task force appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta has concluded.

“We calculated how much miraa traders pay to the government and it came to Sh1.6 million a year per businessman.

"Miraa farmers and traders are the most taxed people,” Miraa Task Force chairman Geoffrey Nchooro M’mwenda claimed.

Mr Nchooro said that they found out that traders were being harassed by police and forced to pay bribes to allow them pass through some places.

“We discovered our traders are being harassed. Immediately after loading to the pick-ups and lorries from Maili Tatu and Kangeta, harassment starts all the way to Mombasa.

"Last year, one county had proposed to levy Sh40,000 per year per lorry passing through it,” Mr Nchooro said.

Legitimacy of trade

The report recommends that the government sensitises law enforcement officers on the status of miraa and the legitimacy of trade in the produce.

It also proposes that the miraa traders association to ensure their members are informed on the need to have licensed premises and adhere to county government laws.

Presenting a 110-page copy of the miraa task force report to the Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia, Mr Nchooro said the Sh1 billion that was set aside by the government will be used to register miraa farmers, implement the report and establish and fund a miraa research institute.

“The registration started on yesterday [Tuesday] and will end on May 25, 2017. We are not charging our farmers to register,” he said.

“The research to be conducted will help to know the pests and diseases affecting miraa cash crop and to come up with appropriate control measures, soil types and agro-ecological zones suitable for the crop, develop suitability map and identify appropriate fertilisers and manure requirements," he said.

Targeted interventions

He said the research will help map out all miraa growing areas to determine the extent and coverage of the crop in order to better target interventions.

These include identifying miraa varieties that are suitable for different soil types and different regions, their agronomic requirements and resistance to pests and disease