Make miraa report public, farmers tell task force

Nyambene Miraa Trade Association spokesman Kimathi Munjuri (second left) addresses journalists with members of the association at the Gatimene Gardens on October 6 2016. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Farmers and traders are calling for the release of a report by the miraa task force after its term expired in December last year.
The team, appointed on June 17 last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta, was expected to issue a report by October but its term was extended to allow it to complete its work.
Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) spokesman Kimathi Munjuri said farmers were concerned that the task force and the ministry of Agriculture were tight-lipped about the progress.
Nyamita had in November moved to court accusing the task force of failing to achieve its intended purpose and for holding sittings long after the expiry of its first term.
However, the association withdrew the lawsuit after the government published a gazette notice extending the team’s term.
“We feel the members of the miraa task force have not been taking their job seriously. Last year, they remained silent after their term expired until we moved to court to establish its status. We expected the report to be released by the first week of January,” Mr Munjuri said.
He said traders are eager to know the team’s recommendations on how the government can help restore the lost markets and open up new ones.
“The task force members should know that they were appointed and Sh1 billion set aside to alleviate a serious crisis. We want to know the way forward on markets and research on the miraa trade,” he said.
He said exporters were struggling to sustain their businesses due to a miraa glut in Somalia, the country’s biggest export market.
He added that about 10 cargo planes had been grounded due to traders’ inability to pay for transportation.
Muringene Market chairman Edward Baithili, who is also a miraa farmer, said they growers were losing confidence in the task force.
“We want to know what is going on with the task force. Our expectations were very high when it was formed but they have taken too long to deliver,” he said.
But task force vice-chairman Dave Ntawa Muthuri said the report is not ready as they are yet to complete their work.

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