- Title: Khat business booms after Somalia lifts ban on Kenyan imports.
- Date: 4th October 2016
- Summary: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) STREET SCENES VARIOUS OF MEN UNLOADING SACKS OF KHAT FROM TRUCK VARIOUS OF TRADERS SELLING KHAT (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) KHAT TRADER, IBRAHIM ADEN, SAYING: "We are very happy that we are now able to sell Khat in Somalia because our local economy depends on khat, many people depend on it for work and others chew it." TRADERS SELLING KHAT KHAT VARIOUS OF MADOBE ADEN CHEWING KHAT WITH FRIENDS MEN CHEWING KHAT / SMOKING (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) MADOBE ADEN, KHAT USER, SAYING: "I like chewing khat but khat is expensive, I earn 100,000 shillings (5 USD) so I find it difficult to provide for my family and afford to buy myself khat." STREET SCENE WOMAN ENTERING GATE SIGN READING (English): "HABEB PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY HOSPITAL AND OPD MENTAL HEALTH CARE" VARIOUS OF PATIENTS AT HOSPITAL DOCTOR MUSTAF ABDIRAHMAN ALI TALKING TO PATIENT VARIOUS OF ALI WRITING (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) DOCTOR MUSTAF ABDIRAHMAN ALI, HABEB PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY HOSPITAL AND OPD MENTAL HEALTH CARE, SAYING: "We have more than 261 patients in three centers in the city and more than 80 patients suffer khat addiction. They have mental illnesses that may have been caused by khat and they also cannot sleep." VARIOUS OF TRADERS SORTING KHAT SPOKESMAN FOR BANADIR REGION ADMINISTRATION, ABIFITAH OMAR HALANE, WORKING AT HIS DESK (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) SPOKESMAN FOR BANADIR REGION ADMINISTRATION, ABIFITAH OMAR HALANE, SAYING: "I can confirm that a huge amount of money is spent on khat everyday but I do not have real figures but it is thousands and thousands of dollars yet we are getting very little in taxes from khat in Somalia." VARIOUS OF TRADERS SELLING KHAT
- Embargoed: 19th October 2016 15:32
- Keywords: Khat Ban Drug Addiction Traders Herb Stimulant
- Location: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- City: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- Country: Somalia
- Topics: Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA00152LACT3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: After an unpopular move to ban Kenyan planes transporting khat to Somalia for a week, traders of the herbal stimulant in the capital, Mogadishu have reopened for business.
Somalia banned Kenyan khat early last month but after a recent meeting between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenya's president, Uhuru Kenyatta the order which was imposed under unclear circumstances was eventually lifted.
"We are very happy that we are now able to sell khat in Somalia because our local economy depends on khat, many people depend on it for work and others chew khat," said trader, Ibrahim Aden.
The crop is big business in Kenya and is grown and sold legally in much of eastern Africa where chewing khat is a social custom dating back thousands of years.
It is widely consumed as an intoxicant by people in Somalia and Ethiopia and is largely seen as a means to bring people together.
The Somali market provides income for thousands of farmers in neighbouring Kenya after exports to Europe were banned in 2014.
Khat worth about 400,000 US dollars is traded in the country every day.
Critics say though that the herb that is chewed for several hours causes dependency, mental health problems, insomnia mouth and teeth damage among other conditions.
Many Somali men are addicted to khat and are traumatised, depressed and physically disabled, researchers from the Rift Valley Institute Nairobi Forum indicated in a study last year.
Madobe Aden, and his friends usually put money together to buy khat which they share.
A kilo of khat goes for 12 to 58 US dollars, depending on the quality.
"I like chewing khat but khat is expensive, I earn 100,000 shilling (5 USD). So I find it difficult to provide for my family and afford to by myself khat," he said.
At the Habeb Psychiatric Emergency Hospital doctors say they are working to rehabilitate a number of patients addicted to khat.
Mustaf Abdirahman Ali is a doctor at the facility.
"We have more than 261 patients in three centers in the city and more than 80 patients suffer khat addiction. They have mental illnesses that may have been caused by khat and they also cannot sleep."
After years of chaos and killings in Somalia, many Somali men lost their jobs.
But the country is rebuilding, last year the International Monetary Fund reported that economic activity is estimated to have expanded by 3.7 percent in 2014, driven by growth in agriculture, construction and telecommunications.
Authorities say though khat is a lucrative business in the country, an efficient tax system that collects revenue from the sector is yet to be established.
Abifitah Omar Halane is the spokesman for Banadir Region Administration in which Mogadishu falls.
"I can confirm that a huge amount of money is spent on khat everyday but I do not have real figures and it is - thousands and thousands of US dollars yet we are getting very little in taxes from khat in Somalia," he said.
Khat is seen as a social ill by some, sapping productivity and finances. The herb is classified by the World Health Organization as a "drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence". Its physical symptoms can include hallucinations, depression and tooth decay.
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