Illegal 'miraa' farming blamed for poor student performance

14Jan 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Illegal 'miraa' farming blamed for poor student performance

The illegal farming of khat alias ‘miraa’ in Same District has been cited as among the reasons behind the districts poor performance in last year’s standard seven exams.

Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Amos Makalla

Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Amos Makalla said there are at least 28 villages in Same District that plant up to 260 acres of khat. According to the RC, children are employed on the khat farms as cheap labour.

He confirmed that ten of the worst performing primary schools are all in khat producing areas.

“In collaboration with security organs, I visited the district and I saw farms of the illicit drug,” he said. While in the district, he ordered the 260 acres of khat be destroyed. He estimated that one acre of khat earns the farmer between 1.5 m/- to 2 m/- a month; “this is good income and so it makes it hard for them to quit the illegal trade,” he said.

In Tanzania, the government has banned production, selling and use of khat and it is on the list of illegal drugs. Khat (Catha edulis) is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Among communities from these areas, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years. Khat contains a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria.

In 1980, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified it as a drug of abuse that can produce mild-to-moderate psychological dependence (less than tobacco or alcohol) although WHO does not consider khat to be seriously addictive.

The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organisations. It is a controlled substance in some countries, such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States (de facto), while its production, sale and consumption are legal in other nations including Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.

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