More than a year after Kenya was granted a five-year permit to export khat (miraa) to Israel, it is only three weeks ago that the first shipments were done. This is a major boost to the farmers in the khat-growing areas who have suffered similar bans like those imposed by key markets Britain and the Netherlands.
As the farmers association and the local MP Maoka Maore say, getting access was strenuous because of standards required. Indeed, exporters have, for years, been barred from lucrative markets due to requirements, whether they are stringent or otherwise.
However, the lesson here is for the farmers to stick to the standards and the lobbyists like the legislator to keep working hard to have the market under lock and key for the five years that will return billions of shillings in earnings. But more importantly, the government agencies involved in the processes ought to offer services to the farmers – some of them not aware of the export requirements—to ensure they don’t go wrong.
Indeed, getting it right in Israel may likely open up other markets. So, while the farmers deserve praises for winning a key market, they have to work against the odds to ensure the shipments are flowing.