Earnings from exports to Somalia slipped to a five-year low in September 2019 amid erratic production and long-standing maritime territorial dispute, provisional trade statistics show.
The value of exports to Kenya’s eastern neighbour comprising largely miraa (khat), dipped 93.5 percent to Sh647 million in September compared with Sh1.25 billion a year earlier, latest provisional data collated by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows.
That was the lowest monthly income from the sale of goods to Somalia since June 2014, the CBK data shows.
Mogadishu has over the years been the main market for miraa traders, fetching billions of shillings annually.
Erratic production of the stimulant due to longer-than-usual drought spells experienced between 2017 through April this year, and an unresolved diplomatic tiff between the two countries has slowed down exports, traders said.
Earnings from consignments to Somalia in the first nine months of the year, for instance, amounted to Sh8.96 billion, the lowest in the same period since 2009 (Sh8.71 billion).
“The prolonged drought periods made miraa very scarce and it became very expensive (for Somali markets). So, somehow because of problems of supply, we are not able to export much,” Kimathi Munjuri, chairperson of Nyambene Miraa Traders Association, said by phone.
“We get another problem when it rains as the supply goes up and when we have plenty (of miraa), we all dump there because it is the only market and what follows is that we don’t get paid on time.”
Kenya and Somalia are embroiled in a long-standing row over the ownership of a triangle in the Indian Ocean measuring about 100,000 square kilometres believed to be rich in oil and gas resources.
The dispute is currently before The Hague-based International Court of Justice after Somalia took Kenya there in August 2014.
“There are also political interferences here and there. Sometimes, the government in Mogadishu just wakes up and says no miraa. These disputes are affecting us and worry us a lot,” Mr Munjuri said.