Miraa farmers from the leading producing zones in Meru County and other regions continue to count losses, as sales of the cash crop plummet.
This comes in the wake of setbacks that have compounded the challenges that farmers face in the region. The locals claim that they have to balance between the high cost of farming/harvesting miraa, and the diminishing returns realized from the sale of the produce.
According to the local farmers, the low profits are attributed to the diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia that saw the ban on the export of the crop to Mogadishu last year. The Horn of Africa country has provided a steady market for tonnes of Miraa over the years, and the sudden change of geopolitical dynamics of the two countries has left the farmers counting losses.
One of such farmers who are bearing the brunt of the dwindling returns from the produce is Joseph Muturia, a resident of Laare, Meru County. Muturia has expressed the frustration of having to pay workers to pluck the Miraa, only to go to waste due to lack of ready market.
“We’ve to hire people to harvest although most of the crop is thrown away,” Mr Muturia says. “But things have worsened and the future of this crop is now uncertain.” He added.
The farmers have also blamed the sluggish efforts by the Government to normalise the operation of the Miraa trade to Somalia, something that continues to subject the farmer into more economic anguish. The cash crop is already banned in Europe and UK, leaving Kenyan farmers with constricted market options.