10 February 2019

Kenya: State to Drill Boreholes for Miraa Growers

A team from the Miraa Taskforce Report Implementation Technical committee accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture will visit sites that have already been identified for these projects from Monday.

This comes after political leaders from Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu met in December last year at Kilimo House in Nairobi where they unanimously agreed on how to share Sh1 billion issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta to cushion farmers in 2016.

Meru County, the leading mirraa growing zone in Kenya, got the lion's share of Sh670 million while Embu got Sh167 million. Tharaka Nithi County received the least, Sh41.7 million.

The team will visit the sites to get maps, ownership documents and plans before commencing of the projects, which also include construction of miraa trading shades.

Meru will benefit from 10 boreholes, Tharaka Nithi three and Embu five.

However, Embu will get the highest number of water pans at seven and Tharaka one while Meru won't get any.

Documents seen by the Sunday Nation show that a miraa revolving fund will be established within the commodities fund.

The revolving funds have been split into two, Sh400.5 will be for Meru allocation while Sh40 million Embu farmers.

"A high number of land owners from miraa growing zone in Meru lease their farms to the rich since they cannot manage the crop. This has always left them in immense poverty despite being land owners," said Nyambene Miraa Trade Association chairman, Mr Kimathi Munjuri.

Mr Munjuri, who is also a member of the Miraa Taskforce Report Implementation Technical team, said with the revolving fund, the land owners will now be able to get soft loans, grow the cash crop, manage it as well as irrigate their farms.

Trading shades will also improve handling of the crop and according to Mr Munjuri, this will increase the local market.

Despite an agreement, leaders from Meru still insist the money was meant for miraa farmers from their county alone.

"We just agreed so that things can move on but we can assure you as Meru leaders we will revisit this matter. Tharaka Nithi and Embu don't grow miraa, they farm Muguka which is not miraa," said Mr Munjuri. His sentiments were echoed by Eala MP Mpuuru Aburi.

Mr Aburi said President Kenyatta set the kitty after he visited Meru and heard the plight of miraa farmers and not those growing muguka.

"This is our money, only meant for miraa farmers. The rest can go and ask for their money from the president just like we leaders from Meru did. We will raise the agenda again," he said in a recent TV interview.

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