The government has set aside Sh53 million to boost muguka farming in Embu County.
The funds will be advanced to the small-scale farmers in Mbeere North and South sub-counties as soft loans at an interest rate of three per cent for purchase farm inputs to increase production.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary, Anne Nyaga, the money will be released to the farmers through their saccos in three weeks’ time.
Speaking on Tuesday at Muraru village during the official opening of a Sh5.6 million muguka market constructed by the government, Ms Nyaga said muguka played a key role in improving the livelihoods of farmers.
She noted that lack of farm inputs had hampered productivity.
Muguka is a variety of miraa (khat), which produces a mild high when chewed. It is hardy and endures long spells of drought.
Farmers will get Sh10,000 and Sh100,000 in loans to improve their farming activities.
“Muguka farmers should be funded to improve their farming productivity,” said Ms Nyaga.
However, she cautioned drivers transporting muguka to markets against speeding to prevent road fatalities.
“These drivers are reversing the gains brought by muguka farming and they stop speeding,” she said.
Mbeere South deputy county commissioner Charles Igiha noted that muguka had become the backbone of the area’s economy and that the government fully supported it.
Since farmers started to grow muguka, he added, Mbeere residents no longer beg money to buy food and educate their children.
“Muguka has transformed the lives of residents from this arid area and we are encouraging as many residents as possible to venture into it,” he said.