Miraa lobby calls for further trade talks

Miraa exports Somalia

A miraa trader showcasing the commodity. The first cargo flight carrying miraa left for Mogadishu Sunday July 24.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A miraa trade lobby has called on the government to fast-track the streamlining of the sector as the export business to Somalia gathers momentum.

The Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) said exporters transported 38 tonnes to Mogadishu by air on Monday and Tuesday as the market opened up to Kenyan khat.

Nyamita chairman Kimathi Munjuri expressed joy at the resumption of exports but said they faced various teething problems, some related to unfinished agreements between Kenya and Somalia.

Mr Munjuri noted that the miraa trade is no longer informal after the Crops (Miraa) Regulations 2022 were gazetted, meaning all related processes must be regularised.

He said it now costs up to Sh1,779 ($15) to deliver a kilo of miraa to Mogadishu, making it expensive in the market.

The Somalia government, he claimed, had increased the tax per kilo to Sh593 ($5), while a commission of Sh533 ($4.50) is demanded by Somali traders.

“When you add transport costs, handling and documentation charges, the landing cost of our miraa in Mogadishu is now on average $15 per kilo,” he said.

“This makes our produce uncompetitive, given that Ethiopian khat, which we must compete with, retails at Sh1,186 ($10) per kilo. We pray that the government engages Somalia to relook this issue.”

Mr Munjuri said a kilo of miraa was trading at $25 in Mogadishu due to the hefty costs.

He lamented that Kenyan khat had become a produce for the rich due to the hefty charges.

Mr Munjuri added that bilateral talks should be prioritised to open up other markets in Somalia apart from Mogadishu.

“Airlines have only two weeks’ validity period permission letters from Somalia. These expire on August 7, 2022. We ask this matter to be looked into urgently,” he said. 

“The permission letters should be valid for at least one year, renewable. The exporters were also issued with temporary export licences of three months instead of annual licences.”

He also called for the lifting of the NOTAM (a notice to air transporters) that banned miraa flights from Somalia airspace in August 2020.