23 January 2013

Kenya: Govt Urges European Union to Lift Miraa Ban

KENYA has sent a request to the European Union to review its ban on miraa to avert further losses to local farmers and traders, Trade PS Abdulrazaq Ali has said.

Ali said while the recent ban on the drug in Netherlands has led to massive losses for traders, there is nothing much the government can do other than to simply request for a review on the European policy on miraa or khat use in those countries. Ali said the request was made last week in the face of an impending possible ban from UK.

"These are European regulations all we can do is request for a review," said Ali. "I can't tell you whether we have made any headway."

Last week UK's national broadcaster BBC reported that the country's Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs is to release a report anytime this week on whether khat- as miraa is referred to there- should be banned in the UK.

This, the report said, was due to mounting pressure on the government to follow suit of other European nations to ban the drug which is popular with Somali, Yemeni, African and Middle East Immigrants.

According to the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association, London is Kenya's biggest foreign market for miraa with a volume of over 30 tonnes exported week while Netherlands was the second largest with a volume of between 18 and 20 tonnes per week. Ali was speaking during the opening of the Kenya-South Africa business forum in Nairobi yesterday.

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