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More trouble for muguka farmers as petition to ban crop presented in Mombasa County Assembly

More woes for muguka and miraa farmers as the Mombasa County Assembly receives a petition for enactment of the law banning the sale and consumption of stimulants within the port city County under Standing Order 201(1).

The petitioners, led by the community elders, clerics, parents, and Mombasa residents, want the assembly to enact a law prohibiting the sale and consumption of miraa and muguka in the port city.

“Further the petitioners have asked the County Assembly to take action on the matter adding that based on evidence, muguka and miraa contain stimulating alkaloids mainly cathinone and cathine,” said the petitioners.

They said cathinone and cathine, which are classified as controlled substances according to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and are classified as second schedule in Narcotic and Psychotropic Substance Act 1994 of Kenya,” said the County Assembly.

The petition was committed to the Committee on Health for further deliberation.

“They shall in not more than 60 calendar days respond to the petitioners as per standing order 201(2),” they added.

Coast leaders continue to attack Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire over her remarks regarding the stimulants.

Early this week, Mbarire claimed that muguka affects coastal youth because they add other hard drugs like heroin.

“This is ridiculous because cocaine is one of the most expensive drugs in the world and heroin is injected and smoked, not chewed. Governor Mbarire you are dead wrong. Yes, muguka is a variation of miraa, but it’s a more lethal brand,” said East African Legislative Assembly Member of Parliament Suleiman Shahbal.

Shahbal said school children chew muguka because it is cheap.

“You know it’s time to take drastic action. No amount of emotional outbursts will stop this. Someone else’s economic prosperity cannot come at the expense of the mental health of our people,” added the politician.

He said Meru and Embu have rich soils and perfect weather to farm avocados and macadamia nuts, which are “profitable and healthy.”

The MP urged Coast leaders to fight the muguka and miraa battle in court and at the National Assembly.

“If all else fails then tax it so high that it will become unaffordable. This is not just a coastal issue, it is a national problem now. We do not want a generation of stoned youth. We should also start an educational campaign to wean our users away,” said the MP.

He further urged parents to stop chewing muguka.

“It is hypocritical to stop children while you are using it yourself. Just say no,” said Shahbal.

Two weeks ago, Coast Governors, including Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), Andrew Mwadime (Taita Taveta) and Issa Timmamy (Lamu) banned muguka.

However, the ban was lifted by the Embu High Court pending a hearing.

Governor Fatuma Achani (Kwale) later imposed hefty charges.

On Thursday, the Coast governors turned down an invitation to meet Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to discuss the ban, citing bias.

They said Linturi is constrained in being an impartial arbiter on the muguka ban.

Instead, the leaders led by their Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani, a Coast economic bloc chairman, Mung’aro demanded a sitting with President William Ruto.

This is after Linturi publicly pronounced himself on the Constitutional and legal positions taken by Mombasa, Kilifi and Taita County Governors to ban Muguka (Gazette Notice 6482 of Executive Order NO.1 of 2024). According to your statements dated May 29, 2024, on the Ministry’s position.

The Coast Parliamentary Group also accused President  Ruto of double standards by pledging Sh500 million for the growth of the crop.

Coast politicians from across the political divide including ODM, UDA and PAA have accused President Ruto of discrimination after meeting the leadership of Embu County led by Mbarire, following the ban of muguka by three Coast counties.

Ruto has also faulted the ban on muguka by Coast governors, saying the crop is legal in Kenya.

Muguka is a variety of miraa and is a scheduled crop by the Crops Act 2013 and the Miraa Regulations 2023.

President Ruto urged stakeholders in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to convene a consultative forum to address concerns raised and agree on the implementation of the Miraa/Mũgũka Regulations 2023.

“The future of Miraa/Mũgũka is in scaling up farming, aggregation, grading, pricing, packaging and value addition of the crop. For this reason, the government has committed to allocate Sh500 million in the 2024/25 Financial Year for value addition of these scheduled crops. The Government affirms its commitment to the fight against drugs, illicit brews and other illegal substances,” said President Ruto.

East African Legislative Assembly MP Hassan Omar, who is also UDA party vice chairman, said the Coast community will not allow intimidation.

“It is malicious for politicians from Mt Kenya to defend their people and economy while selling others a stimulant at the same time-fighting alcohol addiction. We will ensure muguka is not sold in our region,” he added.

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said the Coast region will not be forced into consumption of the stimulant, which has side effects for the users.

The politicians said they would not allow intimidation by leaders from other regions who are closer to power than them due to the tyranny of numbers.

“We are also in government. But others think they are closer to power because they have access to the President and can talk to him anytime, and he makes a decision that favours another region should know that we are immune by the Constitution against whatever kind of discrimination whether at the executive level,” said Baya.

Mombasa Senator Mohammed Faki said Coast leaders will not attend a meeting called by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary on Thursday this week at Maanzoni Hotel.

“Mr Linturi is not an independent person, he is impartial because miraa and muguka are cultivated in his neighborhood. We cannot discuss the crops with him as the chair. Secondly, when the President met Embu leaders, he ought to have also called Coast leadership, but he decided he disregarded us,” said Faki.

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