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Young man chewing khat (qat) - Yemen | by Phil Marion
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Young man chewing khat (qat) - Yemen

Khat is so popular in Yemen that its cultivation consumes much of the country's agricultural resources. It is estimated that 40% of the country's water supply goes towards irrigating it, with production increasing by about 10% to 15% every year. Water consumption is so high that groundwater levels in the Sanaa basin are diminishing; because of this, government officials have proposed relocating large portions of the population of Sanaa to the coast of the Red Sea. One reason for cultivating khat in Yemen so widely is the high income it provides for farmers. Some studies done in 2001 estimated that the income from cultivating khat was about 2.5 million Yemeni rials per hectare, while it was only 0.57 million rials per hectare if fruits were cultivated. This is a strong reason farmers prefer to cultivate khat over coffee and fruits. It is estimated that between 1970 and 2000, the area on which khat was cultivated grew from 8,000 hectares to 103,000 hectares.

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Taken on November 25, 2007