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Israeli market opens up for Kenyan miraa (khat) farmers

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The Israeli market has opened up for Kenyan miraa farmers, three years after the produce was banned in European markets such as Netherlands and Britain.

This comes after Israel approved export of produce through Israeli firm Teffcom Desa as Kenya has met set export requirements. At the moment, Kenya exports khat to Somalia, Mozambique and Angola. In Israel, the demand for miraa is high due to the increasing intake of miraa/khat juice among party goers especially by immigrants from Yemen.

Kenya has been granted a five year permit to export the produce by Israel’s Plant protection and Inspection Services. The permit states that miraa originating from Kenya have to adhere to Israeli import regulations such as having a phytosanitary certificate. The certificate is issued after produce inspected by the Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service has been ascertained to conform to quality standards. It costs Sh1,000 and the application process takes one day.

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Farmers will use closed containers to ship the produce. In this case, the consignment will be packaged in a non-organic material. Exporters/farmers will also be expected to declare whether parent plants were inspected during active growth and found to be free of viral diseases and plant parasitic nematodes.

In the last two weeks farmers have exported 400kg of the produce to Israel but this is projected to increase to 200 tonnes weekly once farmers fully embrace the market.

Mirra farmers in Kenya have welcomed move saying they will increase production to meet the demand.

“We got the permit in 2018 but have experienced a lot of challenges. The produce we exported was normally intercepted by Israeli Police but we have now conformed to the set standards,” said Jacob Miriti, an official of the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association, Meru.

Khat leaves are used to cure depression, fatigue, obesity, stomach ulcers and male infertility. It is also used to lower the need for sleep and food.

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