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As Qat Prices Increase On Occasions, People Still Continue to Buy it
  Written By: Abdul Rahim Al-Showthabi (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date:
October 20
, 2008



During occasions in Yemen, the number of people who buy qat increase, therefore resulting in the prices to double or even triple.

During occasions, people find it necessary to buy qat and visit friends, relatives and loved ones, like in the case of Eid.

Over the years, it has not been only men who gather in qat session, but also women.

Like most Yemeni qat chewers, Badr Al-Sabahi, a 28-year-old accountant, assured that in occasions or marriages, he buys large quantities of qat, emphasizing that sellers wait for such occasions and gathering.

New indicators revealed by the Central Organization for Control and Auditing assured that qat plays an important role in the Yemeni economic life, where qat represents 6% of the Yemeni local output, and 10% of the local consumption.

Despite authorities' promotion to increase the cultivation of coffee and grapes, which are Yemen's most appreciated food assets, people continue to grow qat in most fertile areas, saying that qat offers more profits than grains, which also tends to be at risk when the weather goes bad.

"I used to grow wheat, barley and other crops in my farm but the profits are not always good. On the other hand, qat guarantees high profits and it can be harvested several times during the year," said 38 year old farmer Abdul Rahman Saleh, from Rada'a.

Qat growing provides a major source of rural incomes, while in the same time plays a key negative role in displacing other exportable cash crops, including coffee, fruits, and vegetables. This in results forces Yemen to import more food, and give qat growing more land space in Yemen's agriculture.

A recent survey showed that 72 percent of males chew qat at least once a week.

Meanwhile, consumers spend nearly 30% of their daily income for qat consumption. In addition, locals chew qat while knowing that it could be very dangerous to their health.

Surprisingly from another angle, according to a study for sex trading in Yemen, conducted by Women's Research and Training Center, those who practice prostitution clarified that they resort to it because of their lack to cover personal expenses, which also includes qat.

Sociology Professor Dr. Abdullah Zalab, said that a well-targeted public awareness campaign should be launched to let consumers know the harmful effects of qat, adding that positive examples could be used to convince qat users, that qat is harmful to their health and their society. "It drains the users' budget and puts them in debt" he says.

Qat cultivation has catastrophic environmental effects as well, as it reduces not only alternative corps, but also future food protection. In addition, water security is getting worse as qat growers use pumps to irrigate large areas of lands. Already, one third of all ground water abstraction in Yemen is utilized for growing qat.

There are dozens of names for the different varieties of qat, and while they share some common characteristics they can look and taste different. The naming of the qat goes back to the district it comes from like Gaifi, Arhabi, Daliei, Sawti, Samawi, among other names.

Qat chewers gather in traditional social sessions spending their time in discussions often devoted to matters of general interest, such as community affairs and political issues. Further, qat is also chewed by individuals whether sitting alone or walking in the streets. Over the last few years, it has also been seen chewed by individuals parking their cars on top of high mountains to enjoy the good view while chewing.