Miraa farmers to wait longer for Somalia market

Tuesday September 8, 2020
Miraa farmer in Mbeere constituency. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Miraa farmer in Mbeere constituency. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Miraa farmers and traders may have to wait longer for reopening of the lucrative Somalia market since the electioneering period in the neighbouring country has hampered diplomatic engagements.

According to Deputy President William Ruto, Kenya has been making little headway in talks with Somalia since most of its leaders are now focused on elections set for late 2020 and early 2021.

Speaking to Weru TV on Sunday night, the deputy president 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 fulfill before resumption of miraa trade.

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

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

The Somali government has given Kenya five conditions ahead of lifting blockade of Miraa imports. The demands include; Kenya must treat Somalia as an equal, desist from interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs, apologise for violating Somalia airspace, allow in goods from Somalia including fish, rice, sugar, honey, meat and milk, and Kenya to stop forcing flights from Somalia to make a detour to Wajir for inspection.

Somali had also demanded government-to-government talks after it snubbed a delegation of traders and officials from Kenya crops regulator—Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

According to data from the Ministry of Finance in Somalia, miraa was the third largest local revenue earner for the country last year at $16.6 million (Sh1.79 billion) in import tax.


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