, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 10 – Members of the National Assembly have set up a 29 member House Select team to investigate the effects of miraa and the impact of the business in Meru region where the stimulant is grown.
The MPs move was sparked by the UK government’s ban on the export of the stimulant.
MPs led by the sponsor of the Motion Florence Kajuju says the team will investigate all matters relating to miraa, consider and review all research findings and make recommendations to the House within 90 days.
Kajuju said the committee will accord miraa farmers and consumers the opportunity to speak on the issue, so that the House can be able to come with a proper decision.
“The determination that they will make will determine whether miraa is a blessing or a curse for the people of Kenya,” she said.
“If you look at the economical aspect, you will find that the people of Meru have been exporting over 60 tonnes of miraa to the UK, they have been making over Sh41 billion per week.”
“The committee should look at the variety of miraa. For instance I am told that there is one called Kang’eta, another one Mogoka, another called Giza and the last one called Kataa which is the one that’s reducing the capability of men,” said Samburu County Women Representative Maison Leshomo.
UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced last month that her government plans to ban miraa because of the potential links between its trade and Islamic extremism. Miraa trade, it is suspected, funds terrorism activities in some cases.
May announced the stimulant which is exported to Britain from Kenya, will now be a Class C drug. This means that its use will be illegal.
MPs who contributed to the Motion said the government should use the House team’s findings to improve the image of the trade and use of the commodity in Britain that would see a proactive approach to address littering, gathering in large crowds and new strategies to improve packaging and pesticide use.
MPs Mithika Linturi, David Gikaria and Rachael Shebesh differed on whether men from the area were able to meet their societal and economic responsibilities after chewing miraa for too long.
“Most women who take miraa will enjoy sex better, that’s a fact,” Nairobi Women Rep Rachael Shebesh said while contributing to the motion.
She however said it affects the libido of men who take miraa for too long.
“So that we don’t talk out of ignorance some of us may be required to volunteer themselves as specimens so that those who are talking like this way understand that if you take the right miraa you don’t need the blue tablet (Viagra),” stated Linturi.
Linturi wondered why miraa, which has been used by Merus since time immemorial, was banned in the international market.
“The people who have said that the people who chew miraa can’t perform (in bed), let them go and check the 2009 National Census Results the population of Igembe is 482,000 people, where miraa is grown and consumed. We have the highest population in Eastern Province, do you want to tell us that we import women to sleep with our women.”
Linturi says an anti-miraa campaign waged by the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse would create bad blood between the Jubilee government and the Meru community where miraa is grown.
The Igembe South MP questioned why the anti-drug abuse agency should stigmatize miraa chewing and not tobacco which he claimed is associated with cancer.
“Why is miraa being demonized? It is because it is grown by very poor farmers, there is no multi-national that has found any potential in terms of the economy to come and invest in it but you find tobacco that kills thousands and directly associated with lung cancer is one of the highest earners of revenue for the government and that’s why they cannot touch it or beer which causes liver cirrhosis,” he told the House.
However, MPs Roba Duba, John Lodepe said the stimulation associated with miraa has negative effects on consumers – including lack of concentration to drivers.
Netherlands banned the sale of miraa on January 5, following in the footsteps of many European countries, the US and Canada which have outlawed trade in the crop.