New rules may delay export licences for Kenyan farmers

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New rules may delay export licences for Kenyan farmers

The requirements set out in the Crops Miraa Amendment Regulations, 2022 may cause the exporters to have to wait a bit longer before shipping the produce to Mogadishu.

The reopening of the Somalia market has welcomed traders and farmers with joy, but they called on the government to fast-track the issuance of export licences as per the regulations.

Kenya and Somalia revived bilateral relations on Friday evening after President Hassan Mahmud met President Uhuru Kenyatta and agreed that trade and flights between the two countries resume with immediate effect.

For the first time, miraa dealers will have to adhere to the Kenya Bureau and Standards Code of Practice and the miraa regulations.

The Agricultural and Food Authority AFA has yet to clear 500 exporters, according to Nyambene Miraa Trade Association chairman Kimathi Munjuri.

Exporters must be licensed and registered by AFA, according to The Crops Miraa Amendment Regulations 2022. Exporters are required to have an export permit for every consignment. Anyone who imports miraa without registration and a license is liable for a sentence of up to three years or a fine of up to 5 million rupees.

We have over 500 exporters who have applied for the export licenses, but AFA has yet to issue them. "We need them urgently because we can't ship without adhering to the regulations," Munjuri said.

After Agriculture CS Peter Munya acted on the amendments to the regulations scrapping an export and import levy of Sh 30 and 60 per kilo respectively, miraa exporters got a reprieve.

The regulations also provide for the registration and licensing of miraa nursery operators, growers associations, aggregation, transporters, importers, and vendors.

It also regulates the quality of planting materials, production, postharvest handling and transportation.

Transporters are required to use well-ventilated and hygienic vehicles in adherence to food safety standards.

The rules also set up a miraa pricing formula committee, which is tasked with coming up with a pricing method based on supply and demand, cost of production and other factors.

The regulations provide the way for enforcement of the miraa code of practice, especially in regulating how miraa is weighted. The measure of miraa has been used to impoverish farmers. The traders who have been receiving money from exporters and failing to deliver will be tamed, according to Munjuri.

Anyone licensed to operate as an aggregation must have a field holding facility with potable water, waste disposal area and provide workers with personal protective equipment.

A dealer must implement a traceability system where a package contains the country code, county code, farm name and location.

Exporters will be waiting for the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority SCAA to issue a NOTAM opening of the airspace to Kenyan flights.

The talks with government authorities on adherence to the regulations have been ongoing, according to Maua Miraa Traders chairman Mohamed Quresh.

Quresh said that we are yet to get the licences but we will have to work with those who get theirs first so that there are no delays in doing business.

Kenyan Miraa farmers and traders have been out of the Somalia market for the last two years after Mogadishu suspended imports of khat in March 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic.