A miraa trader in Laare town, Igembe North in Meru County, has recorded increased sales of the stimulant after enforcing strict hygiene standards in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Japhet Baariu, 45, has put up a handwashing tank and ensures that all his clients clean their hands with soap and dry them with serviette before purchasing miraa which he sells while wearing white gloves.
The businessman also supervises the picking of the fast moving stimulant, ensuring high standards of cleanliness.
Mr Baariu became an instant sensation after photos of him at work went viral, causing a huge traffic to his business and numerous calls to his phone.
“I serve a lot of customers and saw the need to improve on hygiene at my place of work. As soon as the government asked businesses to improve on hygiene, I took the measure. Many customers are flocking to the premises,” he said.
His efforts have been recognised by the Meru County government with Roads CEC Julius Taitumu, one of his customers, buying him an apron and an additional water tank.
Igembe North health officer Titus Mutura said they are sensitising those handling the crop to wash their hands before touching it, right from the farms.
“The sellers should ensure they have water and soap to clean their customers’ hands before accessing the crop. Those sending it to other towns should clean their hands before packing it in sacks.
Mr Baariu urged the government to quickly disburse the Sh1 billion miraa fund to enable traders boost hygiene.
He said the money should urgently be used to erect more water points to ensure miraa traders have easy access to the commodity.
Mr Baariu also called on counties banning the sale of miraa to rescind the move, saying it is discriminatory.
“Those banning miraa are enemies of the trade since the crop has been clean all along. The regions banning its sale were doing it even before this virus caused havoc,” he said.