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.
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.
On Saturday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya met a section of miraa traders and farmers and urged for patience as the government engages Somalia.
Last week, miraa farmers and traders put on hold plans for demonstrations over the ongoing miraa ban in Somalia after Mr Munya requested for one week for the government to settle the diplomatic issues.
Members of the Meru County Assembly and opinion leaders had on Thursday last week met to draw a plan for protracted demonstrations against the national government for what they said is failure to resolve the miraa trade impasse.
Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) Chairman Kimathi Munjuri said they were planning daily demos which would only end when miraa export resumes.
Kangeta MCA Romano Mwito, while speaking on a local TV station, said they suspended the mass protests after Mr Munya intervened.
“Our people have been suffering due to the loss of the market in Somalia. We wanted to have mega demonstrations on Friday and Saturday but the CS called us and convinced us to stop the demos. We have heeded to his call because we know the marketing of miraa falls under his docket,” Mr Mwito said.
He said the organisers of the demonstrations have agreed to give the government two weeks before starting the mass protests.
Mr Munjuri said the demonstrations were also meant to pressure the government to unlock other identified international markets in the continent.