By Ronald Owili.
Meru County may be forced to look for an alternative market for its number one cash crop Miraa after the remaining sole market, Somalia, imposed a ban on the produce.
The Somali government restricted the export of the stimulant plant over what it termed as having devastating effects on its citizens.
Consequently all flights which were scheduled to fly to the country were grounded with orders that any violation of the ban will have consequences.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs and International trade is however yet to make a statement concerning this decision which could see traders lose millions of shillings.
The Somali government announcing the ban on Miraa might be the coup de grace for the cash crop which has faced similar action in the past.
Netherlands became the first country to ban Miraa in January 2012, followed by the UK in June 2014 when the British Parliament approved the decision to reclassify Miraa as a Class C drug.
The two countries were among major markets for the drug. Britain alone is said to have been importing at least 2500 tonnes annually prior to the prohibition.
Even after the government promised to intervene, the ban still stands.
The Somali government is said to have had to ban the substance saying it has devastating effects on its citizens.
This decision was finally reached when Somali Civil Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jangali announced the cancellation of all flights exporting Miraa to the country putting the ban to effect.
The minister however did not give reasons for arriving at the decision.
Semi-autonomous Puntland and Somaliland are said to be disregarding the decision.
Somalia until yesterday was the single largest market for Khat.
Farmers and traders have expressed dissatisfaction over the move saying it will have unimaginable economic effects as they begin counting losses with the flight cancellation.
The government allocated 1 billion shillings in the 2016/2017 budget to help cushion Miraa farmers in Meru County against the subsequent effects of the international ban on the crop.