Difference Between Miraa and Muguka as Mombasa, Kilifi Issue Ban

A photo collage of Miraa (left) and Muguka.
A photo collage of Miraa (left) and Muguka.

Mombasa and Kilifi Counties banned the sale and distribution of muguka last week, marking a significant step in the coastal region's efforts to curb the distribution and use of the stimulant.

With the decree issued by Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir and his Kilifi counterpart Gideon Mung'aro, all outlets, whether retail or wholesale, involved in selling or distributing muguka within the two Counties are mandated to cease operations immediately.

This however, is a big blow to the livelihoods of Muguka farmers and other players who have invested heavily in its value chain.

 It is estimated that muguka contributes approximately Ksh22 billion annually to the economy of Embu County.

On the other hand, Kenya has also significantly benefitted from exporting miraa, an almost similar stimulant to Muguka, to neighbouring countries owing to an increase in demand.

Miraa is predominantly farmed in Meru County while Muguka is predominantly farmed in Embu County

By October 2022, Kenya had gained Ksh4 billion from the sale of miraa to Somalia following the resumption of the trade after the stimulant had been banned by the Somalia government in 2020. 

Coast region counties of Mombasa, Kwale, and Kilifi are the biggest markets for both Muguka and Miraaa

Muguka plantation.
Muguka plantation.

The county health committee estimated that 31.4 per cent of Mombasa residents chew Muguka, with the age bracket falling between 19 and 44 years.

Interestingly, the two bans have been effected on Muguka alone as Governor Abdulswamad only regulated the sale of miraa to be 100 meters away from religious places of worship and schools.

Differences Between Miraa and Muguka

Widely referred to as Khat, Muguka, and Miraa are plants whose fresh leaves and soft twigs are chewed to release a juice that alters a user's mood.

While Miraa has a juicy succulent stem that is chewed, Muguka is a relatively short shrub with edible leaves with no stem. Muguka is produced in Embu County while miraa is mostly grown in Meru County.

Muguka is considered to be a cheaper commodity compared to Miraa and hence readily (Muguka) available for users.

A survey conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) revealed that a higher proportion of Kenyans had used miraa at least once in their lifetime (55 per cent) as compared to muguka (31 per cent).


The effects of chewing Khat, according to the NACADA report, cause both social and health effects including gastrointestinal, genitourinary system, and psychiatric effects.

Muguka is more potent than Miraa as one has to consume more leaves to get stimulated. In turn, chewing the leaves (of Muguka) is slightly more addictive than the stem (of Miraa).

According to the NACADA report, both products contain similar effects which include lack of sleep, anxiety, hyperactivity, teeth discolouration, constipation, increased heart rate, impaired memory, insomnia, blurred vision, libido change, impotence, fine tremors, dizziness, fibrosis among others.

In women, it can lead to one's baby having low birth weight, stillbirths, and impaired lactation. 

A bundle of miraa pictured on April 5, 2018.
A bundle of miraa pictured on April 5, 2018.
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