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.

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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 ..........

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