“Miraa farmers and traders left baffled and flabbergasted over the exorbitant levies enforced by counties on the crop.”

The news report of May 20, 2023, penned by Phares Mutembei, highlights the plight of miraa farmers and traders who are distressed by the outrageous taxes on the crop imposed by the majority of counties in Kenya. It’s an issue of grave concern that has left the community with limited options to conduct their business and earn a decent living.

The Miraa Growers and Traders Cooperative Union (MTCU) and Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita), with their 300,000 members, have called on Anne Waiguru, the Council of Governors’ chairperson, and other governors to adopt a more sympathetic approach to miraa. They have pointed out that the current taxing structure is hampering their earnings and making it extremely challenging to sustain their livelihoods.

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The situation is disheartening for the growers and traders in Mandera County, who are being unfairly charged an exorbitant amount of fifty thousand shillings per 10-tonne lorry. It’s a surreal contrast to the Nairobi County, which has put in place trading sheds and allocated a plot for miraa trading activities.

The unfair treatment, as highlighted by the growers and traders, doesn’t stop at taxation alone. There are allegations of cartels controlling the channel to Somalia, limiting the traders who fly miraa to this destination. A few select groups of traders, in return, collect kickbacks from other traders, leaving the others at a disadvantage.

Moreover, the Miraa traders were left distraught by the recent heavy rains that damaged over ten lorries carrying miraa to Mandera, causing losses of over fifty million shillings. Seven of these lorries, upon their return to Meru, had their miraa spoiled, exacerbating the difficulties in an already challenging environment.

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