Meru varsity students get around Miraa ban with new khat products

Dr Patrick Kinyua (centre) supervises students during the Meru ASK show.

In a remarkable and rare display of creativity, students of Meru University of Science and Technology have found an alternative use for Miraa (khat) as controversies rage around the crop, the most recent being the ban in the coastal region.

The students have been researching value addition for Miraa so that consumers can enjoy other by-products besides chewing leaves, coming up with wine, energy drinks, yogurt and beverages.

At the agricultural show at Gitoro in Meru, the university students showcased various products made from both Miraa and Muguka, including concentrated Miraa juice, powder, and wine made from the plant.

Dr Patrick Kinyua, the head of the project, said they were motivated by the negative perceptions surrounding Miraa and wanted to highlight its medicinal purposes.

According to him, their research is based on the pharmacological and herbal attributes of Miraa and is more advanced than any other that has ever been done.

“Many researches have been done, but all negative research. We want to show the world that something good can come out of Miraa and Muguka,” he emphasized.

Dr Patrick Kinyua, Sharon Chemutai (centre) and Mercy Chepkoech at Meru ASK ground.

Dr Kinyua stated that despite Miraa being a stimulant, positive research can be done to extract the negative compounds that are detrimental to health, hence giving a boost to the crop’s fortunes.

He, however, noted that Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) certification for Miraa wine is pending, and hopes that the process would be expedited.

Mercy Chepkoech, a postgraduate student, revealed that they have researched and made concentrated Miraa powder and juice, which can be used as a flavour and ingredient in energy drinks, yogurt and beverages.

“The juice changes colour as it ages,” she pointed out.

Another postgraduate student, Sharon Chemutai, noted that the extracted products have a longer lifespan compared to the leaves or twigs.

The students added that processing and adding value to Miraa and Muguka could reduce the need for fast driving, reducing road carnage attributed to Miraa drivers.

It should be noted that this is not the first attempt to make valuable products from the crop.

Some assorted value-added products of Miraa on display at the ASK Show in Meru. The researchers say that many researches have targetted only the negatives associated with the crop.


In 2021, during a National Miraa Scientific Conference in Nairobi, the Ministry of Agriculture showcased whisky, wine, ‘guarana, juice, and energy drinks produced from Miraa; all of which are value addition for the stimulant.

However, the continued classification of Miraa as a drug by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has hindered the progress made by both parties.

Despite this, Meru leaders, among them Meru Senator and Deputy Senate Speaker Kathuri Murungi, are actively working to have Miraa, the region’s top cash crop, declassified as a drug. He has sponsored the Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Amendment Bill 2023, which aims to remove Miraa from the list of narcotics and psychotropic substances.


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