Politics and policy
UK plan to ban miraa trade to hurt Kenyan farmers
Britain has announced plans to ban Miraa (Khat) in a move that is likely to eat into earnings of Kenyan farmers who grow the crop for export.
British Home Secretary Theresa May’s announcement of the intended ban could render hundreds of packers, transporters and farmers jobless.
The announcement goes against the recommendation of the government's official drugs advisory body, which had argued there was little evidence of health problems arising from miraa consumption.
The threat by the British government coincided with the tabling of a motion in Parliament by Meru county MP Florence Kajuju who wants a 23 member select committee formed to investigate the effects and the entire Miraa business.
The committee would investigate, inquire into all matters relating to Khat (Miraa), consider and review all research findings and make recommendations to the House within ninety days of the substance’s implications on health.
Miraa is already banned in many Western countries, with the Netherlands being the latest country to make possession and trade in the drug illegal earlier in the year.
Miraa traders were considering suing the Netherlands government for banning the sale of the stimulant.
Netherlands banned the sale of Miraa on January 5, following in the footsteps of many European countries, the US and Canada which have outlawed trade in the crop.
In banning the stimulant, the Dutch government cited noise, nuisance by miraa users and littering as some of the reasons behind the decision.
The country was the distribution hub for Khat to other European countries. It is estimated that Kenya exported between 18 to 20 tonnes of Miraa to Netherlands weekly prior to the ban and the UK remained the largest international market for stimulant with taking up 30 tons of miraa from Kenya weekly.
The UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had concluded in a report that khat should not be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.