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Economy

Miraa traders search for buyers as Ethiopia varieties flood Somalia

Pickups ferry miraa. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
Pickups ferry miraa. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

Kenya is scouting for new buyers for miraa in Djibouti and Mozambique as stiff competition from Ethiopian varieties squeeze its traditional Somalia market.

The Miraa Taskforce Report implementation committee, a team established to revive the crop, is in Ethiopia for benchmarking on improving the miraa trade.

The efforts to secure new markets come after the stimulant was banned in the UK and other European countries, dealing a blow to farmers in miraa-growing areas. In Kenya, a number of counties have also threatened to ban it.

In a letter to the Foreign Affairs ministry, the Miraa Taskforce Report implementation committee chairman, Kello Harsama, said the team was keen on recovering the lost international markets.

“The task force is organising to visit Ethiopia, Djibouti and Mozambique to meet ministries of Agriculture, import phytosanitary departments, the Chambers of Commerce, importers and traders in order to understand the requirements for imports of miraa and ways to improve supply of quality produce,” the letter states.

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According to Kimathi Munjuri, who is part of the delegation to Ethiopia, the team has met traders association to understand the competition structure.

“We have met traders associations to understand their approach. Next we will engage both the federal and regional government representatives to find out what roles the government plays to promote khat trade,” Mr Munjuri said.

He noted that while Ethiopia grew more than 50 varieties, none was comparable to the miraa grown in Meru.

Ethiopia supplies most of the khat consumed in Somaliland and Djibouti with the herb being a major revenue earner for Somaliland. It exports more than 16 tonnes of khat to Djibouti every day where the government earns up to Sh1.7 billion in taxes annually.

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