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Opinion: Should Ethiopia promote or stop Khat production?

Khat exports earned Ethiopia millions of dollars helping the country get foreign exchanges. Ethiopia’s revenue generated by Khat exports is rapidly growing from year to year.
The UN World Health Organization says the plant causes irritability, insomnia and lethargy.

More experienced chewers describe a meditative, almost trance-like state, where one’s sense of time slips away. The user may sit still for hours, yet remain alert to conversation or reading matter.

While debates about Khat’s effects on health go on, around 20 million people across the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula chew the plant every day.

In Ethiopia, where Khat is intertwined with ancient traditions — Muslim clerics chewed it to help them study the Koran — the shrub is legal.

Khat production is going far in Ethiopia. During the past 15 years, forest land is replaced by eucalyptus tree and Maize farms are replaced by Khat and coffee plantations. The economic return from Khat production is by far higher than vegetables or crops.

So, what should the Agriculture Development Extension workers advise farmers as they are promoting focus on high income production. And Khat is the best among the cash crops so far.

Sadly, Khat is damaging the future of our youth mostly in urban areas.

So, Should we promote or stop Khat production?  What better devising mechanism should Ethiopia do minimize Khat’s negative impact in the society?

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