The U.K. decision to ban the herbal stimulant khat has caused an uproar in Kenya, where the multimillion-dollar export provides a livelihood for tens of thousands of farmers and traders.
According to the Star:
“The recent ban on miraa ( also known as khat) by Britain is part of a campaign that gathered momentum in 1980 when the World Health Organization classified the shrub as ‘a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence.’ ”
“Since then miraa or khat has been targeted by many anti-drug bodies across the world and remains illegal in several countries.
“The U.K. decision, said to be political, is a major blow to farmers in key growing areas of Meru and Embu counties.
“Farmers’ representatives in Meru claim that miraa brings more than Sh500 million ($5.7 million) to the county (Other reports say this figure could be as high as Sh2 billion). It is also fast replacing coffee as a cash crop in neighboring Embu County.
“The National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse supports ban on miraa in Kenya, but has not classified it as a narcotic yet, pending more studies.”