Nairobi -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.


Source: VOA



  1. That is an extraordinary. It is long over do.These narcotics are killing financially and morally . GLAD to hear it

    • I agree. Long overdue and the British Gov. realises this. The active ingredient in Khat is controlled under Drug Laws in the UK because it's very similar to amphetamines (Class A Drug). It is banned in almost all Western nations, it's now on Somaliland/Somalia to educate itself and the youth of the effects of Khat. Mouth cancer, high blood pressure, mental issues such as Paranoia, schizophrenia and sleep deprivation.

  2. You might as well ban coffee then, caffeine (if consumed heavily) can cause Bladder cancer, high blood pressure, rapid irregular heartbeat, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, delerium and insomnia. Can also cause cause seizures and death.

    I love the way how a society like ours would choose to allow substances that cause significantly more harm to remain legal and to outlaw those that cause less harm.

    For example, alcohol causes 2.5 million deaths a year worldwide. Tobacco kills 5.4 million people a year worldwide.

    The deaths from khat? Well I can tell you that in the UK there have been only 13 deaths associated with Khat consumption between 2004-2009. Make up your own mind how pointless this law actually is…

    • Graham,
      Contrary to your unsubstantiated claim a moderate daily consumption of coffee in fact reduces the risk of prostate cancer for men by 25%. It was reported in the American medical journal in 2 yrs. in a row 2010-11. Agreed, anything consumable commodity that consumed excessively can have adverse effects on human health thus coffe is no exception.

      Banning khat in the UK can be seen a good thing to many including myself. Give it a year or so after an outright ban on possessing khat in the UK becomes a law and you won't be disappointed with the results either as you might encounter more and more Somali men seeking employment opportunities in the UK.

      • I just think the drug laws are there to protect people from harm, on the scale of drugs, khat is seen as the least harmful in the world. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the united kingdom advised the Home Secretary against banning this substance, because there was insufficient evidence that the drug posed any harm to those who used it.

        The impact of this will be to criminalize khat consumers in the UK, all of whom belong to ethnic minority communities, predominantly Yemenis, Ethiopians, Somalis and Kenyans. Khat trading will go underground, joining other illegal drugs trafficking, filling the pockets of organized criminals who will take over supply. The criminals will be rubbing their hands with glee.

        As for somali men seeking employment opportunities, most likely they will end up with a criminal record, and if you have drug convictions on your record, you can kiss goodbye to jobs and look forward to life in prison.

        • I was also wondering, if nobody can obtain Khat after the ban, what other social drugs will these people be taking to fill that void in their life? Alcohol? Amphetamines? Espresso coffee?

          Obviously, those who have spent most of their lives using this drug suddenly don't have it, the side effects of coming off this are depression, irritability, lethargy, nightmares and slight tremor.

          I imagine those who use it frequently might not be jumping into employment so quickly, they'll have to get over their addiction withdrawal first.

    • Khan causes schizophrenia as a consequence the overall effect is the destruction of a family and even entire neighborhoods as the illness destroys not only the afflicted but all those around them for many years.

      Tobacco primarily harms those who abuse it.

      Alcohol can have similar damage to families and neighborhoods to khat.

      The Longer damage of khat is far worse to the fabric of society then any other drug!

  3. If there is any damned tree for the Somali race it is Catha edulis (khat); this narcotic plant and its consumption has destroyed Somalia and its people. Those who cannot afford the going price of this filthy leaves are resorting to cutting centuries old acacia trees for charcoal to satisfy their addiction. I am elated to learn that the UK government has banned this nasty narcotic but that is not enough; it is about time all Somalis stopped chewing their life and the future of their children away.

    It is cruel irony that the people of Kenyan and Ethiopia who grow up this menace tree as a cash crop do not consume it. Even in Somalia, there was a time that only few old men and religious cults will only chew Khat. Today, even the camel herders and the employed youth in the cities are addicted to this plant. Let us all stop consuming this filthy narcotic plant which is destroying our society. Let us stop enriching our enemies while our children die of starvation and malnourishment.

    • even the camel herders and the unemployed youth in the cities are addicted to this plant… that is.

  4. Kenyan politicians are interpreting whole idea of banning khat in the UK as a loss of revenue for Kenya in general. They don't give a rat's ass who gets hurt in the khat consumption among Somalis.