Michael Horton takes a look at qat's role in Yemen's economy
"While accurate economic statistics regarding qat are hard to come by, it is generally thought that the production and sale of qat accounts for 25% of the Yemeni economy; 20% of national employment is related to the production and sale of qat. A recent report produced by Yemen’s Ministry of Agriculture estimates that Yemenis spend 1.2 billion dollars on qat annually. Qat has long since replaced coffee as Yemen’s primary cash crop, the production of which has steadily declined since the 1960s (Yemen Today, November 21, 2009). In addition to declining coffee production, land where drought resistant grains and cereals were traditionally grown is increasingly being planted with qat. The Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture estimates that qat production is expanding at a rate of four to six thousand hectares every year. Yemeni farmers can make up to five times more growing qat than grains. Most of the qat trade is controlled by syndicates that buy qat from the farmers and then distribute it to a network of dealers and middlemen across the country. As a result, most of any real economic gain is limited to the few who have the means to market the qat...
"It is estimated that the average Yemeni household spends 10% to 30% of its income on qat. This would be a problem in any country, but the problem is particularly acute in Yemen, where the gross national income does not exceed $900. In a traditional society such as Yemen’s, men most often control the family’s income. Many men place more importance on the day’s qat purchase than on the needs of the family. This leads to much familial discord."
Labels: Environment, Yemen