Khat traders in Kenya have suspended the exports of the herbal stimulant khat to the neighbouring Somalia, complaining of high taxes and overpricing.
Khat, a multi-million dollar business for countries across the Horn of Africa and in Yemen, consists of the succulent purple-stemmed leaves and shoots of a bush whose scientific name is Catha edulis.
Chewing it for hours produces a mild buzz.
The traders told journalists that the Somali government has imposed extra taxes on the drug. They also said that the Kenyan farmers who produce it have increased the price.
‘’ They [Somalia] are now charging $200 for each bag. The farmers in Kenya have doubled the price and selling to us $600 each bag. We can’t continue in this kind of situation and we will try to find a solution,’’ said a Female Khat trader of Somali decent.
Every day, 16 planes carrying bags loaded with khat travel from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi to Mogadishu.
Kenyan farmers generate over $100m per year for the export of khat to Somalia which large communities heavily depend on it.
Upon hearing the news, many Somalis welcomed and wished the suspension to be forever. Most of them blamed the drag for family breakdown, mental illness and unemployment.
Published: February 15, 2015