Miraa farmers suffer blow in new Ethiopia-Somalia trade deal

Miraa farmers

Nyambene Miraa Trade Association members led by Spokesman Kimathi Munjuri (centre) at a press briefing in this past photo.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

Miraa farmers in Kenya are staring at decline in sales after Somalia granted Ethiopia 10 days of exclusive khat market access every month.

Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri told Nation.Africa that cargo airlines operating from Nairobi had received instructions from Mogadishu not to allow miraa cargo from August 11.

The developments come after Ethiopia, reportedly, lodged complaints with Somalia over Kenya’s dominance in the Somali khat market since President Hassan Mohamud lifted a ban on miraa last year.

The directive came even as Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen and Somalia counterpart Fardowsa Egal, on Wednesday, signed a bilateral Air Service Agreement to enhance passenger and cargo flights between the two countries.

Maua Miraa traders Association chairman Mohamed Quresh said Ethiopia was pushing for alternate market days for Ethiopian and Kenyan Khat.
Mr Munjuri said the directives by Somalia mean there will be no miraa export to Mogadishu from Thursday night. 
“We had alerted the government of this plan two weeks ago but it appears Kenyan officials have not been able to avert it. The fact that Ethiopia has achieved exclusive trade days due to direct push by their prime minister shows the level of intervention Kenya must activate,” Mr Munjuri said.

He said Somalia had earlier introduced an import quota for Kenyan khat to accommodate khat from Ethiopia.

"We have been limited to supplying 19 tonnes a day as opposed to our previous capacity of up to 50 tonnes. This is very unfair," he said.
Nyamita has called for urgent bilateral engagements between the two countries to avert the implementation of the directive.
“Ethiopians should compete openly and fairly with us. Miraa trade with omalia deliberately protected by a bilateral agreement. The claim by Ethiopia that we have monopolised the market is not true because the trade is guided by market forces,” Mr Munjuri said.

He also called on the government to reconsider reopening of the Somalia border to lower the cost of delivering miraa to Somalia.

Further, the Nyamita spokesman called for the implementation of an agreement entered between the two countries in May last year.
“We are also calling on the government to immediately go after additional markets for Miraa. Djibouti is a low lying fruit. The government should support exporters to increase the volumes to Israel. We have opportunities in Maputo and Somaliland,” he said.

They also want farmers supported through provision of water for irrigation to lower the cost of production and ensure sustainable supply.