Kenya is set to export its first miraa to Somalia this week. Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) announced that Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya confirmed the report and said all systems go for the resumption of miraa exports.
The resumption follows Somalia lifting the ban on air freighting khat from Kenya that had been in place for more than two years. The ban hit central Kenya hard, where 50 tons of miraa worth 6 million shillings ($50,000) were being shipped to Somalia every day, according to Kimathi Munjuri, secretary general of one of the main miraa producers’ associations.
Khat is classified as a drug in several European countries. Kenya and Somalia, which share a 700-kilometre border and are in theory allies in the fight against the Shebab Islamists, have a tumultuous relationship. Somalia has regularly accused Kenya of interference, while Kenya has accused Mogadishu of seeking a scapegoat for its internal problems.
Somalia severed diplomatic relations with Kenya in December 2020, when Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the president of the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland, which is not recognized by the international community and which Mogadishu considers an integral part of Somalia. They were re-established in August 2021.
However, tables have turned and the authority has confirmed that 22 Traders who have been approved by AFA will receive their export licenses. The situation changed after bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and new Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
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Kenya’s exports to Somalia are worth 13 billion shillings (more than $110 million), or 5 per cent of its total exports to African countries in 2021, according to government data released in May. Imports from Somalia were worth 106 million shillings ($905,000) last year, the figures show.