Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Chairman Cornelly Serem has claimed that the government has found a market for Kenya’s miraa (khat) in Israel.
Speaking during the inauguration of the ultra-modern Muringene miraa market at Meru county, he said that miraa importers from the Middle East nation would be in the country soon. He added that the government would do everything within its power to ensure miraa farmers get a fair return from their crop.
The demand for miraa called “Gat” in Israel, is high due to the presence of Yemenite Jew immigrants. Its demand in the country has also been driven by increasing intake of gat juice– a popular pick-me-up drink amongst khat consumers. However, gat is only legal in the country if it is consumed or sold in its natural state, its concentrates or extracts are illegal.
The UK banned the importation of miraa in 2014 after the Government decided to reclassify miraa as a Class C drug. Since the 1990s the Union had imported 2,500 to 2,800 tonnes of the stimulant yearly.
Despite the resumption of khat exports to Somalia in July of 2022 following a two-year pause, Kenyan miraa farmers no longer enjoy unfettered access to the Horn of Africa nation. Ethiopia lobbied for a 10-day exclusive khat market access to Somalia every month. Due to Kenya’s overreliance on Somalia for its khat export market, access is often used as a bargaining chip in disputes between Mogadishu and Nairobi.