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Kenyan MPs Call For Eviction of UK Farmers After Britain Outlaws Popular Plant Khat

kenya farmsA group of Kenyan members of parliament have said they will table a motion calling for British farmers to be ejected from the khat-growing Meru region.

The MPs are angered over moves by the British government to ban the use of the leafy substance beginning in July.

Last year, the U.K. government decided – against some experts’ advice – to treat khat as a class C drug to “protect vulnerable members of our communities.”

Khat is traditionally used by Ethiopian, Kenyan, Somali and Yemeni communities. The mildly narcotic leaf – a herbal stimulant – is already banned in most of Europe and in a number of other countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

The MPs say that the British move will force almost 2 million people out of jobs in Meru, which is one of Kenya’s 47 counties and lies to the north-east of Mt. Kenya.

It is not clear how many British nationals own farms in Meru, but the MPs say they own about a quarter of the farmland in the county, including wheat and barley farms.

Florence Kajuju, one of the MPs behind the motion, said the government had the right to declare  compulsorily sale of property for later public use.

The arable land in Meru owned by U.K. farmers should be made available to locals, as areas that used to grow khat could not be used for other crops, she said.

“If they cannot allow us to access their market, then they should also then be willing to let go of tracts of land that could be occupied by the Meru people,” Kajuju told the BBC.

She said Kenyans were used to fighting for their rights as they had to do so to gain independence from Britain.

If the motion was passed by MPs, it is reportedly unlikely the government would implement it given its policy of accommodating foreign investors.

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