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Ruto Reverses Coastal Counties’ Muguka Ban, Allocates Funds for Expansion

Mugoka farmer

Nairobi, Kenya — President William Ruto has overturned a recent ban on muguka, a potent variety of the stimulant khat, imposed by three coastal county governors. The ban, which had been put in place due to concerns over mental health issues and social ills, including crime, had sparked protests in muguka-growing regions.

President Ruto declared the crop legal under national legislation and stated that any local laws contradicting this are null and void. “We must respect the law and the economic interests of our farmers,” Ruto said during a press conference. “Muguka is a significant source of livelihood for many.”

The ban had been spearheaded by Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, who cited its harmful effects on youth, noting that many individuals in rehabilitation centers were addicted to the plant. “Our primary concern is the health and future of our young people,” Nassir had stated in defense of the ban. The initiative had gained backing from several religious organizations.

Despite the support for the ban in some quarters, it faced staunch opposition from farmers and traders in Embu, a major muguka-producing county. Protests erupted as growers argued that the ban threatened their economic stability.

President Ruto’s reversal followed a meeting with Embu’s local leaders, where they presented their case for the importance of muguka to the region’s economy. “We cannot ignore the voices of our farmers,” Ruto remarked, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach that considers both economic and social factors.

In addition to lifting the ban, President Ruto announced that his government will allocate $3.7 million to the expansion of khat farming. The funds are aimed at boosting the agricultural sector and supporting the livelihoods of those dependent on muguka cultivation. “This investment will help enhance productivity and open new markets for our farmers,” Ruto declared.

Governor Nassir expressed disappointment at the President’s decision but acknowledged the need for a national dialogue on the issue. “We must find a solution that addresses both the economic needs and the health concerns of our communities,” Nassir said.

As the debate continues, the President’s decision marks a significant development in the ongoing controversy surrounding muguka, highlighting the complex interplay between local governance and national legislation.

© All East Africa

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