UK ban of the stimulant has sparked outrage in Kenya, where its export provides tens of thousands of farmers and exporters with their livelihoods.
Last month the British government moved to ban the “herbal stimulant”, which is estimated to have been regularly used by by 90,000 members of east African and Yemeni communities in the UK, mainly Somalis.
The evergreen shrub is native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and acts as a stimulant when chewed. Use of khat has been a tradition for centuries throughout Somalia, Yemen and Ethiopia, where khat cafes (mafrishes) are often found. It has long had social, cultural and religious uses. In Sufi mosques in Somalia, for example, worshippers chew while chanting and singing.
However, the UK says the ban was initiated in part to prevent the country from becoming a centre for smuggling khat to other countries where the drug has long been illegal.
AFP report that the ban has been badly received in Kenya, where many thousands of people are said to depend on its export value.