controversy over chewing chat has become a global issue as two Ethiopian
researchers take to an international conference in Sweden the case for the
plant that is a popular stimulant in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
Lammessa, a food security expert for the U.N.'s Organization for Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs who works in Ethiopia's Oromiya region, says in 15 years
he has seen chat help many farmers confronted with soil erosion and periods of
famine, particularly in the Hararghe zone of eastern Ethiopia. In recent years, it has become the fourth-highest
revenue producer among Ethiopian agricultural exports, after coffee, leather
and pulses. Dechasaa also says it has
social benefits as a mild stimulant.
Some people believe it has medicinal benefits when rubbed on sores.
State University history professor Izkael Gabbisa says his research shows that
no international organization has proven chat harmful. Izkael will publish a book on the subject in
two months. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration has not determined it harmful, he says, although some local law
enforcement agencies in the United States have made it unlawful.
and Izkael discussed the global implications of their research with Nigusu
Negawo of the Afan Oromo service.