Miraa (Khat) farmers and traders have a reason to feel relieved now after the United Kingdom Advisory Council on the misuse of drugs rejected requests to ban importation of Miraa in the UK. The UK council found out that there was no evidence that Miraa had any health effects as the Dutch parliamentarians had earlier said. The traders however are still crossing their fingers that Canada, the US and Netherlands markets will follow suit and lift the ban.
The Netherlands Secretary of State for Health, Welfare and Sports has already listed the good crop as a drug, thus directing traders to stop stocking miraa at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. The ban is already being felt, as the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) has stopped airlifting miraa to Holland.
Being the huge foreign exchange earner for Kenya, a complete Khat export ban would definitely hurt traders and the economy as well, as the sub-sector is worth an estimated KES 1.6 billion annually. A USAID survey shows that Miraa exports earned Kenya KES 16.5 billion in the last five years, making it the top export fresh product destined for Africa.
The survey says the value of miraa (khat) exports has been growing at an average of 9.7% annually and accounted for 54.2% of the fresh produce export from Kenya to other African states.
The survey that looks at intra-Africa horticulture trade further says that Miraa exports ranked fourth in terms of total cumulative volume of exports and ranked highest in terms of total cumulative value having attained close to KES 16.5 billion ($231.7 million. Exports of processed vegetables stood at KES 4.7 billion or 15.5% of the total in the five-year period, processed fruit (KES 3.7 billion or 12.4%), flowers (KES 2.5 billion or 8.3%) and fresh fruit at KES 376 million or 1.2%.
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