News / Africa

Kenya Farmers Call on Britain to Reverse Khat Ban

Men unload sacks of khat in Mandera, northeastern Kenya, Nov. 2007 file photo.
Men unload sacks of khat in Mandera, northeastern Kenya, Nov. 2007 file photo.
Kenyan politicians and khat traders are calling on the government to initiate talks with British officials to reverse the ban on khat and save the multi-million dollar agricultural sector from collapsing.
Kenyan farmers say the new British ban on the leafy stimulant, also known as "miraa," will have a significant adverse impact their businesses and the nation's economy. The plant, which grown in Kenya's cooler central regions for export to several European countries and Somalia, is worth big money for Kenya.
According to Kipkorir Menjo, director of the Kenya Farmers Association, the ban threatens the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.
“The miraa industry is going to face a serious challenge because they are people in the supply chain, the farmers who are planting the crop, fellows who have been distributing, fellows who have been exporting," he said. "The whole industry is likely to collapse because this is a major market which has been earning this people good money, of course also earning the country foreign exchange.”
On Wednesday, British Home Secretary Theresa May banned the herbal stimulant, saying her country could become a transit route for illegal shipments into other European countries.
The head of the Global Miraa Industry Dealers Network, Jephat Muroko, calls the ban political.
“To me it’s a pure politics, and not only politics but also oppressive to the miraa industry traders," he said.
"I think it’s part of the consequences," he added, referring to Kenya's election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. "But I wonder about our government, why it’s quiet about this thing.”
Kenya's khat traders once exported about 20 tons of the crop to the Netherlands each week, before that country joined several other European neighbors, including France and Germany, in banning the leafy stimulant.
Britain imported 36 tons each week prior to implementing its own ban.
Menjo says both khat farmers and traders need to start lobbying Britain to lift the ban or start planting other cash crops.
“If there will be no headway then they will have to think for other options, but I think for now I don’t want to conclude that nobody will listen to them," he said. "Hopefully they will get some way out, but if it’s not possible they will have to think some other ways of getting their livelihood.”
As the farmers and traders digest the latest development from Europe, another battle awaits them inside Kenya: The National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse is lobbying the government to have khat classified as an illegal drug.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Craig Dillon from: USA
July 07, 2013 5:20 AM
The least Kenya should do is to ban the import of all alcoholic products from the EU. This is cultural discrimination.

by: MJ from: Sweden
July 06, 2013 12:40 PM
Somalia should also follow suit. Khat is destroying the livelihoods of many Somali families. The Somali government should start drawing a plan to ban the import of khat.
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
July 06, 2013 10:14 PM
Somalia should not ban Khat simply because UK, for political selfish reason, banned khat. UK Home Secretary Teresa May, by defying her own advisors, made khat illegal. The advisors confirmed that there's no proof that khat has health implications, and there is no evidence that khat dealers and growers are from organised criminals. Only irresponsible Somali individuals should be blamed for the break up of their families NOT KHAT!!

by: Tracy Parker from: UK
July 05, 2013 3:47 PM
khat is a drug and should be banned in UK. Otherwise if you favour the Africans, then let the Jamaicans and all other nationals who want to bring drugs into UK do. Please spare us the Oh our economy will collapse. Teresa May, has shown good leadership
In Response

by: haji from: mombasa
July 06, 2013 7:19 AM
yes, this a drug and it has been rightfully banned in the uk n elsewhere in europe.
fr those that advocate fr its cultivation and sale it is sad to say that they are profit centric more than humane.
this drug on kenya coast is responsible fr broken homes! one only needs to see thru the eyes of the aflicted to realize the negative socio/economic impact this drug has had on the society.
women have severaly complained to to the community leaders of their husband's impotency and too lack of interest in economic activity thereby causing falling standards in education and health.
this has nothing to do with, as stated in this article "choices have consequence" this ban was looming even before the electioneering in kenya was gearing up.
this crop is not agricultural, can not be classified as such, it is more of a deathlycultural.
In Response

by: Abukar Awale from: UK
July 05, 2013 7:41 PM
Well done Teresa May, the life's of British children is far more important then Kenya Drug dealers request ,, how stupid please let our drug in to your country so we can destroy UK citizens ..
Never Never Never ..........

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs