The lucrative Khat trade in Ethiopia
Khat in Ethiopia comes in different types and brands and prices vary based on these types and brands. Price variations of the product also reflect the many aspects of the substance including taste, source, quality, freshness and strength. In Ethiopian market, the brand name by which khat is marketed also changes often, particularly when the producer shifts to some other market or if an agent loses a contract.
Types of khat in Ethiopia
There are different khat varieties available in the Ethiopian market, each demanding different prices. The usual varieties are:
Chirra (a short stemmed khat)
Umerkule (a strong type)
Karabule (these are freshly cut leaves that are delivered overnight)
Kerti (these leaves are freshly wrapped with false banana)
Kuda (a red color khat plant with very few leaves)
Abba Chebsi (a type named after a famous local dealer of the region)
If you are looking for the best type of khat then focus particularly on ‘dima’ which consists of medium sized reddish leaves believed to have longer and stronger effect. This makes it the best option for exporting to different markets. Another favorite of the farmers is the ‘dalotta’ which are the pale-yellowish, smaller leaves with greater effect and lesser acidic taste.
Khat markets in Ethiopia
Khat taxonomy in Ethiopia is not under any legislation or regulation. The state is no way involved with the khat markets in the country. It is the retailers, traders, wholesalers and exporters who are the decision makers of the market. In fact, it is they who decide on the availability of the varieties of khat. They know how to estimate the price of the material depending on the freshness of it. Even high esteemed brands tend to lose the effect with time.
The Awedaay market in Ethiopia
The market or ‘mercato’ in Addis Ababa is the largest place for khat trading with a whole lot of traders, retailers, wholesalers and exporters dealing in khat.
The Awedaay market in Eastern Ethiopia is another busy market of khat dealing. In 1994, it was estimated that around 350 traders took part in the market every day. Presently, around 700 kilograms of khat are traded daily in the Awedaay market. It is the second most important and busiest market after the ‘mercato’ in Addis Ababa. Khat from the Awedaay market is also exported to other regions including Somaliland and Djibouti.
Khat markets like the Awedaay market are main centers of rural entrepreneurial activities.