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Govt urged to regulate Miraa trade

26 August 2013, 14:21 Bob Ndwiga

The failure by the government to come up with regulations to control the farming and trade of Miraa is to blame for continued abuse of the mild drug by the youth in parts of the Coast.

County governments in the Coast have been urged by stakeholders in community anti narcotic organizations to come up with rules and regulations to control the trade of Miraa or ban it all together.

The Anti narcotics campaigners in Malindi who have in recent times been demanding the ban on miraa traders, warned that unless the farming and trade of the crop is controlled, its prices will continue to be increased at the expense of family incomes.

The chairman of Malindi Maarufu Anti Drugs Association Mohammed Famau urged the government to hasten efforts to come up with regulations to control the Miraa farming and the trade.

He said Khat was destroying families not merely because of the healthy issues associated with addiction to the shrubs but due to the high cost which was affecting family incomes in a highly negative way.

Talking to the Press in Malindi where the price of a Kilogram of the Khat has reached KES 3 000, Famau said “Miraa is no longer affordable to those who addicted to it and unless supply is checked families where members used the mild drug will suffer serious financial crisis.

The smallest amount of miraa in Malindi normally classified as a quarter of a kilogram although in essence what is bundled together weighs less and today costs between KES 600 to KES 800.

Famau said that many anti miraa use campaigners would have preferred the banning of the sale of the shrubs in Malindi and Coast all together where levels of addiction were becoming overwhelming.

He said that while the effects of Miraa may not be as bad, as those brought on by use of hard drugs, the cost of Miraa remained high as families pay the price.

Famau wondered why Miraa prices continued to be increased without any checks and controls to a level where the shrubs cost more than vegetables and other foods, yet no nutritional value had been identified in the shrubs.

The anti narcotics activist wondered why the shrubs continued to be handled poorly and under unhygienic conditions with the department of public health doing nothing to ensure cleanliness the shrubs which ended being chewed as food.

He said the shrubs should be classified as a cash crop and taxes levied from it while the ministry of health should ensure that Miraa was treated as a food and be transported and sold in clean environments.

In Malindi and Mombasa Miraa is sold openly sometimes in dusty areas or next to openly dirty areas. Even the traders who handle the shrubs cannot be described to have satisfied required public health cleanliness standards.

A former trader of Miraa, Francis N’thaura said that he had started a campaign in Malindi to encourage Miraa traders and handlers to ensure hygiene when selling or transporting the shrubs to avoid the negative image associated with some of the people who handle the bundles of the miraa at Kongowea wholesale market in Mombasa.

N’thaura said “I have been talking to the Malindi Miraa Traders and we will soon come up with an organization to ensure that trade in Miraa is controlled and that some levels of hygiene and checks in prices are maintained”.

The former trader admitted that prices of bundles of Miraa have become expensive and unaffordable to many consumers and even those who afforded the stuff complained of draining their family incomes.

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