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British Ban on Khat Angers Kenyan Farmers



From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Kenyan farmers say a British ban on the plant known as khat will seriously affect their businesses and economy. Exports of khat, also called miraa, are worth a lot of money to Kenya. The farmers have exported the plant mainly to European countries and Somalia. Khat is grown in the colder climates of central Kenya.

For years, people have been using it as a drug. Chewing the leaves of the plant can increase the heartbeat and make a person feel more awake. Some Kenyan politicians and khat traders have called on the government to open talks with British officials to convince them to cancel the ban on khat. They say ending the ban would save Kenya's khat industry from collapse.

Kipkorir Menjo is the director of the Kenya Farmers Association. He says the ban will affect tens of thousands of people. In July, British Home Secretary Theresa May banned the leafy stimulant. She warned that traders could use Britain to move khat illegally to other European countries. Khat is already banned in most European countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands. Kenyan traders exported about 20 tons of khat to the Netherlands weekly before the ban. Another 36 tons a week was sent to Britain.

Kipkorir Menjo says khat farmers and traders need to speak up so that Britain can lift the ban.As the farmers and traders study the latest developments in Europe, another battle awaits them inside Kenya. The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse is urging the government to list khat as an illegal drug.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.