Miraa is one of the biggest products that come from Meru area and most of these is usually exported to Somalia, South Africa and Zambia. The biggest blow to the business was when the UK, one of the biggest markets, implemented a ban on any miraa imports killing around 75% of their market.
Britain has been importing 2500 – 2800 tonnes a year of miraa before the ban and this earned the traders billions of shillings.
Edward Muruu a retired headmaster explains his losses after the ban:
“I used to ferry miraa (khat) from Maua to Nairobi four times a week using 27 Toyota Hilux trucks, where it was repackaged for export. I used to make around £2,100 a month. Now I am lucky if I bring in £250 per month,”
The export ban has had a ripple effect since there is less money circulating in the Meru economy hence people have little money to buy stuff thus affects other businesses.
“The miraa trade was the heartbeat of this town; it drove everything else. With revenue from miraa so drastically low, people no longer have the money to buy things,” says bookshop owner Lawrence Kobia. His sales went down by a whooping 40%.
Somalia is another big market for miraa but transporting it is the issue. Only Kenyan Somali drivers can do it since the rest would be attacked.
Former radio queen, Caroline Mutoko, uploaded a video on her YouTube channel urging Meru residents to grow weed (bhang) since it has a much bigger growing market in the medical and rectreational marijuana division in the United States. Around 25 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana and this year around 10 extra states will legalize recreational marijuana in addition to Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington state and Washington DC.
Currently in Kenya, weed is not legalized in Kenya so if you get caught growing it, you will be jailed so don’t try it out blindly.