East Africa: Somalia Campaigns Have Delayed Miraa Trade Talks, Ruto Says


Miraa farmers and traders may have to wait longer for a possible reopening of the lucrative Somalia market according to Deputy President William Ruto.

This is as a result of the ongoing political campaigns in the neighbouring country which have hampered diplomatic engagements.

According to DP Ruto, Kenya has been making little headway in talks with Somalia since most of its leaders are now concentrating on elections which will be helid at the end of the year.

Speaking Sunday night on Weru TV, Mr Ruto said Somalia banned miraa as a bargaining chip in the longstanding maritime dispute with Kenya.

The maritime dispute over a 100,000 square kilometres section of the sea has been pending at the International Court of Justice in The Hague since 2014.

Demands

Last month, Somalia issued a list of five demands that Kenya must fulfil before resumption of miraa trade.

“There has been some misunderstanding between Kenya and Somalia over the maritime row. They stopped the miraa business to arm-twist us. We are in talks to separate the two issues but the electioneering is slowing talks. We hope once the elections are over, we will be able to conclude talks for resumption of trade,” Mr Ruto said.

At the same time, the DP urged miraa growers to diversify their farming to cushion themselves from the market shocks.

“In the Rift Valley, many maize farmers are now going for alternatives such as macadamia and avocados where there is money. The Ministry of Agriculture should support farmers to get alternatives that will ensure they are not impoverished by lack of market,” he said.