The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a new manual that will guide farmers on raising and handling miraa.
The miraa production handbook, unveiled by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya in Meru, is an initiative by the ministry to improve the miraa value chain and drive growth in the sector.
“This handbook, although focused on production, is an essential part of wider government initiatives to improve the way the crop is produced, marketed and consumed,” Munya said.
Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Director of Miraa, Pyrethrum and other Cash Crops, James Mutia, said the development of the manual will provide guidance on how which miraa agriculture must be conducted, to ensure quality.
“This will in turn promote its marketing inside and outside Kenya,” Mutia said, adding that emphasis had been placed on best practices to ensure the quality of the crop improved.
“In the past, miraa growers relied on indigenous knowledge when cultivation was a multi-billion shilling industry,” he said.
Mutia urged farmers to use the book as a guide, but also to seek expert advice from their local agriculture offices.
The book recommends that the ideal site for a miraa farm be in well-drained fertile soil and a flat to gentle slope. Miraa fields are usually prepared during the dry season before the onset of the rains.
Adequate water supply should be available all year round, including irrigation. He recommends that a miraa farm be easily accessible and sheltered from the weather.
While farmers space their miraa plants differently, the manual recommends a spacing of two meters by two meters in the lowlands (sorghum-cotton zone) and three meters by three meters in the highlands (coffee zone).
According to the manual, miraa can be intercropped with beans as a cover crop, as it would benefit from the nitrogen fixed by the beans.
“This relationship also reduces water loss from the soil surface and provides income to farmers before the crop reaches harvest maturity,” the book reads.