Kenya: Agriculture Ministry to Take Over as Miraa Task Force Term Ends

14 August 2020

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said the ministry will now take over implementation of the miraa task force report after revoking the appointment of the technical team whose term was to end in October.

Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri had extended the team's term by 12 months on October 31, 2019. In a gazette notice, CS Munya said the revocation of the appointment took effect on July 14.

This comes days after a section of the technical team members said the CS sidelined them after he took office in January this year.

But speaking to the Nation, Mr Munya said there was no need of meeting the technical team since it had completed its work.

"Committees are appointed for a certain period and not forever. They did their work and recommended what should be done and what is remaining is implementation. We are already building markets, setting up Saccos, a research centre among others in line with their recommendations," Mr Munya said.

He said it was not prudent to continue spending money on allowances for a technical team whose work was complete.

"I found their report being implemented and a lot of money being spent on meetings. Let us now direct the resources on benefiting the miraa farmers," he said.

Mr Kello Harsama, the technical team's chairman, who is also a ministry official, said the team had outlived its purpose.

"The Ministry of Agriculture has staff who will oversee the projects initiated by the technical team. There is absolutely no gap," Mr Harsama said.

Meru County Secretary Rufus Miriti, who was a member of the team, said the county government would continue to support implementation of miraa programmes.

Untimely

However, Mbeere-Embu Miraa farmers' chairman Jervasius Nyombyekothe and Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri termed the degazettement untimely since the CS has never given them audience.

Mr Nyombyekothe said the technical team has pending business which they should have been given time to conclude.

"Since the CS took over, he has never given us audience. I do not understand why the technical team has been degazetted. There is a lot of pending business including construction of markets, boreholes and earth dams as well as sourcing of international markets are still pending. We also wanted to come up with regulations to guide the sector," Mr Nyombyeothe said.

He said miraa being a new crop, the ministry needs their expertise in implementing the taskforce recommendations.

"We were making headway in the Djibouti market but the government has not been able to seal the deal. The issue of miraa agronomy including varieties and management of pest and diseases is yet to be concluded," he said.

Mr Munjuri said they were not able to give any progress report to the ministry in the last seven months.

He called on the ministry to ensure the recommendations including miraa export, cushioning of farmers as well as development of regulations and strategies for the sub sector.

The technical team members had differed with the CS on the mode of disbursing Sh180 million, which is part of Sh440 million meant to be advanced to farmers through Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos).

While Mr Munya favours disbursing the money directly to a select Sacco, the technical team had recommended that the money be channelled through the Commodities Fund for borrowing by Saccos.

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