Khat cultivation fuels food crisis in Yemen

[Sanaa] The cultivation of khat in Yemen has expanded during the ongoing crisis, with the plant now taking up about 15 per cent of agricultural land, according to figures released by the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. It was previously grown only on mountains and hills.

The ministry’s statistics also confirm a large increase in khat trade within the country, as Yemenis’ annual spending on the addictive drug has reached about US$12 billion.

There are many confirmed health hazards of chewing the stalk and tender leaves of khat, in addition to the negative psychological, social, cultural and economic aspects of addiction.

The spread of khat cultivation is affecting food security in the country, at a time when Yemen is standing on the brink of famine, whose signs have already appeared in a number of provinces.