Kenyan small scale farmers in central Kenya are increasingly moving from growing food crops to planting and harvesting an herbal stimulant known locally as “Muguka” – a variety of the drug, Khat. According to the farmers, the herbal stimulant gives them almost three times as much as the food crops. However, the local county government is adamant about the farmers creating a balance between producing “Muguka” and food.
Muguka is a variety of Khat that is a green and bushy. It is a stimulant that produces a mild high when chewed. The crop is fast growing and does well in the semi-arid lowlands of Embu county, making it less vulnerable to erratic weather conditions.
Ideally, Muguka is grown by farmers with large tracts of land, but now small scale farmers are cashing in on the trade. John Mukundi, the Chief executive officer of the Agriculture & Cooperatives docket in Embu County, is of the opinion that the farmers are going with the change because it provides employment opportunities for them as well as other residents as well.
Furthermore and according to the Embu county government, there are now 65,000 farmers growing the crop in the region. This makes Muguka one of the highest income earners for the region apart from coffee and tea.
However, Mr. Mukundi reiterated that the county government will be giving out free supply of seeds to the farmers to encourage planting of food crops. This, he says, will enhance food security and nutrition. Additionally, the farmers also encouraged to take advantage of the fertilizer subsidies provided by the county government.
According to media reports, the small scale Muguka farmers mainly sell the stimulant in local markets. The crop is also transported to various parts of the country, and is exported to Somalia.