Kenyan khat traders and consumers are boycotting the potent twigs to force farmers to lower prices

A 100kg sack of miraa is now selling at Sh160,000, ($1600) up from at least Sh20,000 ($200).

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman, Kimathi Munjuri, said the traders met in Eastleigh on Sunday and resolved to boycott buying the twigs to force farmers to lower the prices.

According to Mr Munjuri, a 100kg sack of miraa is now selling at Sh160,000, ($1600) up from at least Sh20,000 ($200) during the rainy season.

Traders who export to Mogadishu feel that it is not sustainable to buy 100kgs at Sh160,000 because buyers cannot afford it.

“Only traders serving other parts of Somalia shipped their commodity on Monday night.

“This means about 30 tonnes of miraa has not been delivered to Mogadishu,” Mr Munjuri said.

Kenya's main export to Somalia is khat and accounts for up to 90 per cent of the goods to Somalia.

Mr Josiah Mugo, a miraa consumer, said he could no longer afford to chew daily after prices spiked from mid-December.

“A small bundle (surba) of the best quality khat is now retailing at more than Sh400 from Sh150 last month. I am considering shifting to muguka but its quality is not good. I am now chewing occasionally so as not to stretch my budget,” Mr Mugo said.

However, Khat farmers laughed off the boycott terming it futile since the miraa prices are determined by market forces.

“Miraa trading is highly dependent on supply and demand. At no time do farmers or suppliers meet to fix the price. The exporters have tried this before in vain. Let those who have a market for miraa, at its prevailing prices, buy and sell without undue subjection to mob attempts to fix prices,”  Mr Joseph Muturia, a khat farmer said.

Farmers also cite the dry spell that started early December as the reason behind the high prices because of the low supply.

“During the rains, miraa is in plenty and traders pick it for a dime. An attempt by farmers to boycott selling at poor prices have also failed,” the Nyamita chairman said.

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