, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday promised to intervene to have a ban on miraa exports to Netherlands lifted.
Speaking when he received a petition from farmers and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) officials, he said he would take up the matter with the Dutch government to reverse the ban on selling khat in the European country.
The PM noted that such a ban which has already been affected by the Netherlands will greatly impoverish miraa farmers in the Meru region who depend on the crop for their livelihood.
He said: “Miraa is not a drug, and I will convey your sentiments to the governments of Netherlands and the United Kingdom to reverse the ban on the sale of the crop in their countries.”
Following the ban earlier this month Kenya was reported to be losing Sh1.6 billion per month.
Use of miraa is banned in 17 European countries with Netherlands being the latest on the list to ban its sale. (Read story on the ban)
Through Miraa lobby groups, farmers have held talks with their leaders including the government to have the ban lifted.
Miraa traders however told Capital News that they were still exporting miraa to the United Kingdom.
But they hoped Netherlands will consider lifting the ban.
Meanwhile, on the controversy surrounding the recent ODM grassroots elections where the Meru branch came up with two sets of officials, Odinga asked the warring factions to close ranks and come up with one set of officials that will be acceptable to the party.
Odinga cautioned them against conducting themselves in a manner that will bring disrepute to the party.
“Our party is as good as its officials.” “You should therefore always project a positive image of the party to be able to attract membership and support from the people,” he said.
ODM officials who spoke at the function said the political equation in Meru has changed drastically and the Meru people were no longer going to support a presidential candidate just because he is from the Mt Kenya region.
The officials who were led by the former Ntonyiri MP Maoka Maore added it was a myth that the Mt Kenya region in general and Meru in particular was anti-Odinga.
They said: “Indeed this will be demonstrated in the coming elections that will see Raila garnering a majority votes in the region.”