UK ban on miraa to stay, British envoy says

Saturday March 25 2017

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey addresses

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey addresses journalists at Nyeri County Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwang'a's office on March 25 2017. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Britain’s ban on miraa imports will not be lifted but the UK government will support initiatives on alternative livelihoods in Meru, The British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey has said.

Speaking during a meeting with Meru county commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga and Meru deputy governor Raphael Muriungi, Mr Hailey said UK was sensitive to the impact of the ban and funded a survey on alternative livelihoods in the county.

His comments came after Mr Muriungi sought to establish whether the UK government was considering reviewing the ban on the crop that is Meru’s economic mainstay.

“I am afraid that the ban on miraa is going to stay. We were the last western country to ban miraa but we were sensitive on the impact it would have on the producing regions. We discussed the outcomes of the alternative livelihoods survey with the county and national government authorities. We are committed to supporting those affected by the ban,” Mr Hailey said.

He noted that the UK government was awaiting the release of the report of the taskforce on miraa appointed by President Kenyatta to take part in implementation of its recommendations.

The deputy governor said miraa farmers had suffered greatly from the ban calling for more interventions from the development partners.

The miraa taskforce had  expressed confidence that Kenya would recover the European miraa market once farmers meet export conditions.

The taskforce chairman Mwenda Nchooro said the miraa was restricted and not banned in Tanzania, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“Miraa was never banned in Tanzania, UK and Netherlands. The stimulant is restricted in the three countries. The taskforce will seek to establish the set conditions so that farmers can be trained on how to meet them. Some of the conditions include hygiene and chemical levels,” Mr Nchooro said.

In 2013, the Dutch government banned miraa exports denying Kenya over Sh1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Soon after, the UK declared miraa a class C drug and banned all imports, leaving Kenyan farmers with Somalia as the only major market.