Miraa export boycott call flops as prices dip 85pc per kilogramme

A miraa export boycott call by farmers has flopped amid internal wars.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A seven-day miraa export boycott called by farmers last week flopped Wednesday after internal conflict and local politics took centre stage.

On Saturday, angry farmers called for the suspension of khat for trade for a week, in protest over a fee of Sh80,000 per bag charged by a faceless cartel at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Farmers say the fee is partly to blame for the 85 percent price drop of Miraa from Sh2,000 per kilogramme to Sh300 at the moment.

Some of the traders who defied the directive on Monday were left counting losses after their khat was confiscated and burnt.

However, three days into the boycott, intense lobbying by traders, powered by local political divisions led to an agreement that business resumes immediately.

Local politics has been blamed for the persistent demonstrations by farmers, with a section of leaders blaming it on differences between local political leaders.

Mr Jacob Mantili, a miraa trader, said local political fights infiltrated the farmers’ meeting on Saturday leading to declarations that were not well thought out.

“Some speakers at the meeting that called for a trade boycott were serving political interests. They made remarks banning all miraa trade yet we were targeting the export and not the local market. This saw miraa meant for the local market being destroyed,” Mr Mantili said.

Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) Chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the export business resumed fully on Wednesday after efforts to boycott came a cropper.

The business, he said resumed after a meeting between local dealers and Somali traders who blamed the price slump on market forces.

“When we met the Somali traders, they asked us very pertinent questions on why they were not engaged before the boycott. We were told that the commission is paid by exporters and has nothing to do with farm gate prices,” Mr Munjuri said.

He said the meeting ended without an agreement on a minimum farm gate price of Sh50,000 per bag demanded by farmers.

“They maintained that the business should be left to market forces. At this point, we now need our elected leaders and the national government to intervene because we believe the hefty commission has a hand in the current prices,” he said.

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