Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Farmers angry at Britain's ban on miraa

08 July 2013, 17:49

Nairobi  - Farmers growing miraa are angry, as Britain has branded the crop a drug and banned it, and in retaliation have demanded the British army training bases and British-owned farms be shut down.

Miraa, a multi-million dollar export business -- is the leaves and shoots of the shrub Catha edulis, which are chewed to obtain a mild stimulant effect.

"We do not see why we should live side by side with our enemies ... with people who are conspiring to punish Kenyans," said Kimathi Munjuri, spokesman for the Nyambene Miraa Trade Association, one of the key growing regions for the bushy herb, in northeastern Kenya.

Last week, Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May classified miraa (known as khat in the United Kingfom) as a drug, effectively closing Kenya's last market in Europe, after the Netherlands banned the stimulant in January.

British interests in Kenya

Britain, the former colonial ruler, still sends troops to train in northern Kenya.

Large tracts of land are also owned or farmed by British nationals.

"The British have training bases in the middle of miraa-growing regions," Munjuri added. "They own land among us and now we will adopt stands to make them feel our importance."

Britain's ban was made despite findings from government experts that there was insufficient evidence miraa is harmful.

Khat farmers say they export up to 60 tonnes of miraa to London each week.

The trade is estimated to be worth up to $24 million a year.

"A ban will cripple the economy of the area," said Florence Kajuju, a lawmaker for the miraa-growing constituency of Tigania East, adding that the ban would impact thousands of families.

There has been no official Kenyan reaction.

Although miraa is grown across the Horn of Africa region as well as in Yemen largely for domestic and regional use, much of Kenya's crop is cultivated for export, with the main growing area around the Meru region.

Miraa bushes can take up to four years to mature and large-scale farms have been running for decades.

While grown in fertile highlands where other crops such as maize and potatoes also do well, miraa is preferred for its relatively high profit margins.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...