A man harvests miraa in Meru. Photo/Courtesy

Miraa is largely seen as a lucrative crop and recently, Kenya introduced a levy to tap into this gravy train.

However, to venture into this business, particularly export, a trader should be prepared for hefty charges.

To deliver a kilo of miraa to Mogadishu, which is Kenya’s top destination for khat, a trader is required to pay several levies and charges.

According to Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri, there are about seven levies charged on miraa in Kenya and Somalia.

By the time a kilo of ‘Griid’ miraa, which is preferred for the Somalia market, reaches the consumer in Mogadishu, a trader has to part with charges and levies totaling to Sh1, 928 per kilo.

These include Sh569.20 (USD4) for handling and shipping charges, Sh7 in government export levy and permit fee, Sh640.35 in commission for faceless cartels and another Sh711.50 (USD5) in import duty, cargo handling charges.

Other general costs that a trader must pay include a road transport charge of Sh3, 000 per bag, Sh1000 in county cess per vehicle and Sh4, 000 per vehicle (Single cab pick-up) for KAA levy at the airport all totaling to Sh8, 000.

This translates to about Sh8 per kilo since a single cab pick-up ferries about one tonne of miraa.

Since the current farm gate price for 100 kilo bag of miraa is Sh50, 000, the landing cost of a kilo of miraa in Somalia is at least Sh2,400.

Munjuri said the many charges have made Kenyan miraa less competitive to Ethiopian khat in the Somali market.

“Because of these very high compulsory costs, the exporters are finding themselves between a hard place and a rock. The freight and airport charges, the duty charged in Somalia, the road transport from Meru to Nairobi and the commission payable at JKIA are all fixed and attempts to even discuss the latter with the government were dismissed,” Munjuri said.

He said with the declining production due to the dry season, the price of a bag of miraa is likely to rise beyond Sh60,000 which will leave traders in losses.

The Nyamita chairman said due to low production, a kilo of miraa has in some occasions fetched up to Sh2000.

Munjuri added that the high cost of doing the business has been aggravated by the closure of the Somalia border.

“The government can help address the sharp fluctuation of prices by providing sufficient water for irrigation under the miraa revitalization programme. Currently, it costs about Sh100, 000 to produce five bags of miraa from one acre through irrigation.”

“We are also appealing to the government to reopen the Somalia border because road transport is what makes Ethiopian khat far much cheaper than ours,” the miraa traders chairman said.


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