Miraa vehicles ferrying khat from Meru to Nairobi PHOTO|COURTESY

Since the Somalia market reopened, Kenya has exported miraa (khat) worth Sh221 million in just four days, demonstrating the important role the product is playing in the country’s economy.

Since the market opened last weekend, according to Felix Mutwiri, head of Miraa Pyrethrum and other Industrial Crops, the country has exported 81.4 tonnes of the stimulant to Mogadishu.

Even though additional traders are requesting authorization to obtain the licenses, Mr. Mutwiri said that 19 of the 22 businessmen who had filed for export permits had been approved.

“We have so far exported 81.4 tonnes in the last four days and we expect the volumes to grow in the next coming days as more people are cleared to ship out the commodity,” said Mr Mutwiri.

Miraa received their licenses last week following their approval under the new laws. Anybody found exporting miraa without registration and authorization will face a jail term of up to three years in prison or a fine of up to Sh5 million.

A kilo of miraa is currently selling for $23 (Sh2,734) in Somalia, which is less expensive than the $25 (Sh2,972) it cost prior to the market being shut down.

Ethiopia, which has been providing the market with miraa since Nairobi was banned out has been competing with Kenya for the market.