Government of Kenya has given miraa transporters an ultimatum to register and obtain licences from the Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) by December 31, 2023. The move is aimed at regulating the miraa trade and ensuring quality standards and safety of the product.
Miraa, also known as khat, is a stimulant plant that is widely consumed in Kenya and exported to neighboring countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Miraa is a major source of income for many farmers and traders in Meru county, where it is mainly grown.
However, the miraa trade has also been associated with various challenges, such as speeding, accidents, insecurity, health risks, and environmental degradation. Miraa transporters, who use mostly Toyota Hilux pick-ups, are notorious for driving recklessly and endangering the lives of other road users and pedestrians. Miraa drivers are also exposed to fatigue, stress, and addiction, as they work long hours and often consume the product themselves.
According to the AFA, the registration and licensing of miraa transporters is part of the implementation of the Crops (Miraa) Regulations, 2020, which were gazetted in July 2020. The regulations provide for the establishment of the Miraa Industry Development Council, which will oversee the development, promotion, and regulation of the miraa industry.
The AFA has urged all miraa transporters to comply with the deadline and submit their applications for registration and licensing to the authority’s offices in Meru, Embu, or Nairobi. The authority has also warned that any transporter who fails to register and obtain a licence will face legal action and penalties.
The AFA has also advised miraa transporters to adhere to the traffic rules and regulations, and to ensure that their vehicles are in good condition and have valid insurance cover. The authority has also encouraged miraa transporters to form associations or cooperatives that will help them to access credit, markets, and training opportunities.
The AFA has expressed its commitment to support the miraa industry and to work with other stakeholders, such as the county governments, the National Transport and Safety Authority, the Kenya Revenue Authority, and the Kenya Bureau of Standards, to ensure the growth and sustainability of the sector.