ADDIS ABEBA – The reported entry of Ethiopia into the Somalia Khat business has left traders in Kenya anxious about losing the lucrative market to their northern neighbors for good, Nairobi-based Nation reported.
An Ethiopian national carrier on Saturday delivered the first consignment of khat, also known as Miraa in Kenya, to the Aden Adde International Airport, according to Somali media reports.
The development has sent shock-waves among Kenyan traders, who have monopolized the Mogadishu market for ages.
Ethiopian khat dealers hold sway over the Hargeisa market, which Kenyan traders have failed to penetrate due to hefty taxes. Somali media reported that the federal government had cleared Ethiopia for khat trade even as the Kenyan stimulant remains illegal.
“If Somali consumers are allowed to get used to the Ethiopian variety of khat, we may lose the market forever. More than 50 boats have been deployed in the ocean to stop us from using the sea. Why has our government allowed Ethiopia to outwit us?” said Kimathi Munjuri, chairman of Kenya’s Nyambene Miraa Traders Association.
“We’re aware that about 30 tonnes of khat was delivered to Mogadishu,” he said
The report says air cargo operators, who have been ferrying Kenyan Khat to Mogadishu, are now contemplating relocating to Ethiopia where they expect the business to boom.
The traders are urge their government to “save the local miraa trade”.
File Photo: The stimulant leaves are considered drugs and banned in most countries [Reuters]