Kenya’s khat exports to Somalia hit $1.85 million in four days

Kenya exported khat worth 221 million Kenya shillings ($1.85 million U.S. dollars) to Mogadishu in four days following the reopening of its border with Somalia.

“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,” Head of Miraa, Pyrethrum and other Industrial Crops, Felix Mutwiri told Kenyan media outlet, Nation.

The first shipment of the stimulant plant departed Nairobi for Mogadishu on July 24, a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Hassan Mahmoud agreed on the reopening of the border between the two countries in order to ease the movement of people and enhance trade in goods and services.

The report by Nation notes that a kilogram of khat to Somalia currently goes for $23 (Sh2,734), a little lower than the $25 (Sh2,972) that it fetched before the market was stopped in early 2020.

Somalia announced a ban on Kenyan khat in March 2020 amid a maritime border dispute pitting the two East African neighbors.

With the return of President Mahmoud to power, however, ties have improved, and a visit by the Somali President to Nairobi last month seemed to further facilitate the normalization of relations.

Khat comprises the leaves and fresh shoots of Catha edulis Forsk, a flowering evergreen shrub cultivated in East Africa and the South-West Arabian Peninsula.

Khat is mostly consumed by chewing, although it can be ingested as an infusion or smoked.

Fresh vegetable material (stems, leaves and flower buds) is chewed and the juice of the masticated material is swallowed, while the residues are spat out.

Khat consumption leads to effects that are qualitatively similar to those of amphetamine, including increased blood pressure, a state of euphoria and elation with feelings of increased alertness and arousal.