Khat Or Miraa , 'Dubbed Green Gold' in Tanzania

Despite its historical illegality in Tanzania, Khat alias 'Miraa' or 'Gomba' is incredibly imported secretly, distributed openly and consumed officially.

Dubbed ‘green gold’, Khat a narcotic crop is big and lucrative trade, only after Tanzanite and Tourism as the largest money minter in northern Tanzania.

As you read this, around eight tonnes of khat enter Tanzania's niche market, generating nearly $100,000 (140m/-) on daily basis.

Tanzania’s head of the Anti-narcotic unit, senior Assistant commissioner of Police (SACP) Godfrey Nzowa, says the battle against drug dealers remains a 'hard nut to crack'.

“Players are keeping on changing means and tactics of channeling their contraband to the markets” says SACP Nzowa, who recently led the operation in Arusha, where they seized three tones of Khat worth $35,714.3 (50m/-).

Nearly 90 percent of khat flooded the market is imported from Kenya and then distributed in Dar, Coast, Manyara, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Arusha region itself.

Our investigation shows the most lucrative varieties are Asili, Giza, Kangeta and Colombo placed under special category from Kenya.

A bunch of these brands is fetching between $10.7 and $14.3 (15,000/-
and 20,000/-).

Khat brandies on the market at the moment includes Asili, Alele, Kangeta, Giza, Colombo, Kinembe, Ali-kichaa, Mkokaa, vudee, chome, Mbaga andTastasi just to mention but a few.

Import syndicate

The khat crop is finding its way to Tanzania through panya routes exists in a vast Namanga borderline under a mafia like ferrying syndicate, running under a strict network with strong tentacles in Nairobi, Namanga, Arusha, Moshi and Dar.

Sources close to the khat traffickers, say that the kingpins behind this lucrative trade are well off people and normally are well prepared to bribe all the way from Namanga to Arusha.

Potential    Consumers

Sources say that most of the consumers are drivers and conductors of town buses as well as long safaris drivers, tax drivers, some police officers, common men and some prominent businessmen.

Investigation indicates that some consumers are committing between $14.3 (20,000/-) and as much as $32.143 (45,000/-) to khat chewing and its associate costs every day, more than they spend on education or healthcare.

As if that is not enough, most Khat users chew it during the night long and sleep during the day, seriously affecting their economic productivity.

Ludo, Abuu, Mustafa and Eddy are the former khat users who say the stimulant is currently extending beyond its traditional use as a social pastime because of unemployment and social exclusion.

"We used to chew the khat just like someone who consumes alcohol as a way to socialize and to calm down life stress" Abuu says, adding:

“But now we see majority of addicted people are those who cannot pretend that they are frustrated because they are well off"

Ludo says: "It gives a little bit of an elevated but not as high as a drug or high as alcohol, it just makes you relaxed and comfortable and then you just enjoy yourself."

         Free trade in Kenya

In Kenya, Khat has been cultivated, traded, exported and consumed without any prohibitive measures since legalization in 1977.

Known as Miraa in Kenya is the intoxicant of choice among non-alcohol using Kenyans, although it is also widely used concurrently with alcohol.

In East Africa, only Tanzania has imposed what can only be termed a "soft" ban on the consumption and marketing of the plant way back in 1977.

ACP Nzowa says at the moment the law of the land prohibit consumption of the khat until further notice.

In 1980, the World Health Organization declared khat a highly addictive drug, and East African leaders have campaigned against it, saying chronic use leads to high divorce rates, wife beatings and job loss.

In Somalia, opponents call the habit a national epidemic and say men who use the drug neglect their families by spending huge amounts of cash and time on it.

Khat crops have flourished in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where farmers started uprooting their coffee plants and growing the leafy green plant when the world coffee market crashed in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Today, Kenya exports about $250 million of khat annually, beating out tea as one of the county's most lucrative exports, according to the Kenyan government.

Dozens of flights leave Nairobi's two major airports every day, transporting burlap sacks filled with khat to Somalia in a trade that is worth about $300,000 a day, according to Kenya's National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse.

Available data show that Kenya exports at least 150 tonnes of the plant every week, mostly to Somalia, the UK, the Netherlands and Yemen.

Hundreds more tonnes are consumed locally, mostly in the North-Eastern and Eastern Provinces as well as most of Kenya's urban areas.

More than 1.5 million people are thought to have experimented with miraa at one time or another in Kenya.

Health experts argues that Khat is one of the harmful drugs as it carries a number of psychological, physical and mental damage which have led to many of its adductors to go mad, loose sleep and even turn impotent.Description:



Post a Comment