Meru farmers cut down miraa trees over ‘cartel’ interference

A section of Meru farmers have cut down their miraa trees over what they term as neglect by the government to create a market for their produce resulting in cartel interference.

According to the farmers, their produce have been affected by cartels who have been controlling the market thus leaving the farmer earning peanuts.

At Gaciongo village in Mutuati sub county Igembe North constituency, Alexander Mwenda cut down his mature three-acre miraa trees due to frustrations.

Mwenda says for over 20 years, he had been getting a lot of money from his farm but now left with no other options than to replace the green gold trees with other crops.

He said initially his farm was giving him a total of more than Sh50,000 upon harvest but at the moment he can’t even get a quarter of it.

Farmers say the miraa market has continued to deteriorate day by day adding that even after crying foul to the government nothing seems to change. Residents here who mainly depend on the crop for survival say they will consider abandoning farming and venture into other areas. They added that despite being promised dozens of promises by politicians during the previous campaign, nothing seems to change, and the situation seems to get worse.

“We cannot afford to pay for our children’s school fees at private schools and the situation has forced us to move to public schools. Their lives are not the same again, with the high cost of living, many residents have also moved to other farming regions in search of employment due to the high cost of living”, said one resident.

As a result of the poor market for their commodity, the normal life of residents in the region has been greatly reduced.

Moses Lichoro, chairman of Miraa Growers and Traders Association said about seven levies are charged on miraa in Kenya and Somalia.

By the time a kilo of ‘Griid’ miraa, which is preferred for the Somalia market, reaches the consumer in Mogadishu, a trader has to part with charges and levies totaling Sh1, 928 per kilo.

These include Sh569.20 (USD4) for handling and shipping charges, Sh7 in government export levy and permit fee, Sh640.35 in commission for faceless cartels and another Sh711.50 (USD5) in import duty, cargo handling charges.

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