Miraa export to Somalia will kick off in the next two weeks following fruitful engagement between the two countries.
Addressing journalists in Meru County, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya confirmed that diplomatic negotiations between the Kenyan government and the Federal Republic of Somalia had been successful and the remaining paperwork will be complete in two weeks’ time.
“We have been engaging our experts and those from Somalia to see how we can resume selling miraa as well as other products to Mogadishu and the talks were completed on Thursday when we attended the inauguration of the newly elected Somalia President Hassan Mohamud,” said Mr Munya.
He added: “Trading between the two countries had earlier been closed by the previous regime but we can authoritatively announce that it will now resume. Flights to and from the country are also expected to resume in the next two weeks.”
He also said that by Tuesday next week, Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) will be finalised since the two countries have an existing draft that requires very few changes.
He added that they were at the moment finalizing the agreements and a delegation from Somalia will be in the country in the next two weeks to sign the agreements.
“We are calling on our farmers to start preparing to resume the trade since we are sure the market will be opened as promised,” he said.
He said the agreement will also enable the two countries to trade freely where Kenya can import fish from Somalia and on their side, they can buy other agricultural products from Kenyan farmers.
“Somali has a seafront with very good quality fish and fish products that they would also wish to sell to us and we will, in turn, sell miraa and other products from our country,” he said.
He said miraa will be airlifted from Isiolo airport which is close to the main source of miraa, the Nyambene region.
“The airport will shorten the journey to Wilson airport in Nairobi and our farmers who are mainly from the Nyambene region will not incur a lot of costs considering the proximity of the airport from the region,” he said.
The CS thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for the diplomatic relationship and negotiations he had been carrying out quietly which has finally borne fruits.
He said Somalia has been the premium market of the Kenyan miraa and that the farmers eagerly awaited the good news.
Somalia suspended miraa imports from Kenya two years ago, on March 19, 2020, citing Covid-19 restrictions but the suspension was never lifted as diplomatic issues kicked in. The ban led to a loss of a daily market for more than 50 tons of khat valued at more than Sh20 million then.
The country has since replaced the Kenyan khat with the Ethiopian variety after Mogadishu, in June last year, entered ‘a balance of trade deal’ that enables the Horn of Africa country to sell its fish to Ethiopia.
But the election of Hassan Mohamud on May 15, has revived optimism among miraa traders who are now calling for caution in how Kenya handles its neighbour.
By Dickson Mwiti