And the Djibouti buyers now want to pen a long term contract with Kenyan traders should the product meet the required standards in handling and reliability of supply.
Leading Kenya khat traders association- the Nyambene Miraa traders said they have seen potential after one chartered flight ferried three tonnes while the second one took a consignment of five tonnes.
But the flights have been stopped by Djibouti buyers, citing a need to inspect khat farms and handling standards, and to meet traders to explore the reliability of supply.
A delegation of buyers from Djibouti was expected in Kenya this week to officiate contractual talks with the traders.
The Kenyan traders now want the government’s help to secure market in Djibouti.
“We were expecting a delegation of six from the Horn of Africa nation last Monday, but they did not make it. They were to be drawn from the top three khat buyers in Djibouti,” said Kimathi Munjuri, the lobby chairman.
Unlike Somalia, Djibouti buyers prefer contracts of up to five years with guaranteed quantities and quality, with specific demands such as the length of twigs.
While the Djibouti market is small compared to Somalia, the lobby said local farmers and traders require more markets. They said it’s an opportunity to establish a reliable fallback in view of the volatility of the Somalia market.
“It would also come in handy in mopping up surpluses during seasons of favourable weather when we get bumper harvests,” said Kimathi.
Other countries that have been identified as potential markets for the product are Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and Swaziland. These countries have not outlawed consumption of khat.
Djibouti initially sourced khat from Ethiopia but the instability there has forced them to seek other alternative source.
“The Djiboutians had sent us distress messages in view of the instability in their normal source market in Ethiopia which is currently facing civil strife. But we are aware that Ethiopia dispatched a minister to Djibouti within a week of our first cargo flight. Thats the type of government aid we require in this country,” added Munjuri.