Tuesday, September 6, 2016
By Cyrus Ombati
A woman and her daughter arrange branches of khat into small bundles in Mogadishu on Aug. 9, 2014. Grown on plantations in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia, tons of the leafy stimulant, dubbed ‘the flower of paradise’ by its users, are flown daily into Mogadishu for distribution to markets across Somalia. | REUTERS
Somalia has banned miraa from Kenya with effect from today.
The Somalia government gave no reason for the ban and it is not clear how long it will last.
The ban deals a blow to Kenya’s miraa farmers who rely on Somalia as their main market after countries in Europe slapped a ban on the crop regarded as a drug.
The ban was announced by Somali Minister of Civil Aviation Ali Ahmed Jangali in an interview with the BBC.
Officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport confirmed that they had been notified of the suspension. The officials said at least 20 flights carrying the crop from Nairobi have been flying to Somalia daily. Several tonnes are delivered by road.
A letter dated September 4 from Somalia’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority warned that any violation of Somalia airspace and disregard of the notice would have consequences.
“While considering special circumstances, Somalia Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority on behalf of the Federal Republic of Somalia is hereby informing all miraa cargo operators and anyone concerned that miraa cargo flights and their operations into Somalia have been cancelled effective September 6, 2016, until further notice,” said the notice by the authority’s General Manager Abdiwahid Ahmed.
The letter was copied to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and other Somalia agencies.
The ban comes at a time when miraa farmers are struggling with unstable markets for the crop after several EU countries banned it from their markets.