Miraa farmer have pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to fast-track negotiations with Somalia on the resumption of exports.
From the statistics, Miraa farmers and traders import an average 50 tons daily to the war-torn Somaliland.
Nyambene Miraa Farmers and Traders Association chairman Kimathi Munjuri said Somalia was the biggest miraa market.
“About Sh5 billion that would have been paid for miraa has been lost in the past 10 months. The returns used to be shared among traders in Somalia, exporters in Nairobi, transporters in Nairobi and Meru, traders in Meru who buy from farmers, and the farmers themselves. We are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to help us out on this issue,” said Mr Munjuri.
East African Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi yesterday said his crop was being used to make animal feed.
“I was selling miraa worth Sh410,000 monthly to Somalia. We have nowhere to take it because the local market is saturated.”
Former Ntunene MCA Maoka Ngore said he used to earn between Sh80,000 to Sh150,000 monthly from his crop.
“I used to sell my harvest to Somali traders but I now barely get Sh10,000. We have been hit hard. Businesses in miraa zones have closed and parents do not have school fees. We appeal for a speedy resolution to the diplomatic issue with Somalia.”
Last week, Somalia decided to recall its ambassador to Nairobi and expel the Kenyan ambassador.
In a statement, Somalia’s foreign Affairs Ministry accused Kenya of “overt and blatant interferences” in internal affairs in Jubbaland.
“In recent weeks, it has become apparent to the Federal Government of Somalia that the Kenyan government is placing great political pressure on the regional President of Jubaland, Mr. Axmed Maxamed Islaan in order to pursue its political and economic interests in Somalia. For that reason, the Federal Government of Somalia recalls the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Maxamed Ahmed Nur Tarzan, and instructs the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Federal Republic of Somalia, Mr. Lucas Tumbo, to depart to Kenya for consultation,” it added.
This is not the first time that diplomatic relations between the Kenya and Somalia have been strained. After oil fields off the coast, disputed by both countries, were auctioned off by Somalia, Kenya recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu last February.
The state of Jubaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states and a buffer zone with Kenya, is now at the center of diplomatic tensions between the two East African countries.
The latest incident notwithstanding, Mogadishu authorities have in recent weeks not only accused Nairobi of meddling in its internal affairs, including the backing of Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe
But what mainly disturbs many Somalis is the presence of Kenyan troops in the force of AMISOM, the African Union mission in Somalia, experienced as a rooting of the country in Jubaland.
In 2011, the Kenyan army had crossed the border to fight against Shabaab terrorists who were targeting the north of its territory.
Even though the presence of the Kenyan armed forces has diminished in recent years, Kenyan-led military operations have not ceased in Somalia.
While the African Union mission is expected to end its mandate in the country in December 2021, Kenya now faces a dilemma: whether to leave the fight against the main terrorist threat to the Somali army or to continue its operations in the name of protecting Kenyans.