Miraa (Khat) is a flowering plant commonly found within the horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula countries. The angiosperm plant is scientifically referred to as Catha edulis and is commonly chewed for leisure and pleasure of the communities in these countries.
In Kenya, this plant is commonly found, extensively farmed and the best of this plant grows in Meru County
than any other place in the world. Due to the high quality of this chew plant, Miraa from Meru if famed around the country and abroad, making it a leading cash plant in this county.
Miraa in Kenya and particularly in Meru County is mostly grown in Nyambene region of Meru County. It is widely distributed inside and outside Kenya. Majorly it is exported to Saudi-Arabia, Oman and Yemen among other Arab countries. In Africa, it is exported to countries like Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Miraa for consumption is harvested from tree as young twigs or branches. The twigs are normally tender and miraa users chew the outer cover or the bark of the twigs. The bark is bitter but for those who like the product, the bitter taste is associated with quality.
This plant is so important in the Meru community that it has been inculcated in most aspects culture, traditions and customs of the Ameru. A certain type of this plant, mostly from the aged trees is only chewed by the elders and is considered a sign of ultimate respect if an elder offers a young man a taste of this type of ‘khat’ which is commonly refered to Nchooro
In the traditional Ameru households, a youngman seeking a hand of marriage of a daughter from that household would present a bunch of this type of Miraa to the elders. If he were accepted, he would be called to chew briefly with the elders and if he is rejected, the bunch of Miraa is returned to him.
Due to its high perishability, its not uncommon to encounter fast driven Miraa pickup trucks delivering Miraa to various markets within the country as far as Mombasa as well as after harvest Nairobi’s Wilson and Jomo Kenya International Airport for export to Somalia, Arabian Peninsula and Europe.