Harar, Ethiopia. The sound of the call to prayer engulfs the air, it is dawn, hundreds of wide-eyed people that have worked through the night scurry across the dirt which has been covering by a carpet of green, the bi-product of a hard nights work preparing the product for distribution. Some women cook, the goats eat fallen leaves from the ground, large bundles come and go on the shoulders of busy men, women and children. Located just a few kilometers from the sacred UNESCO world heritage city of Harar, Awoday is the world's  largest market for the amphetamine-like leaf, a stimulant said to enhance concentration and reduce tiredness while producing euphoria.

It is easy to say that the market was busy all evening and now the women are arriving to help. An estimated  $80 million is said to change hands in the market in one night alone, but it is impossible to track the true numbers. The market is an international hub from which loaded trucks leave for Somalia, Djibouti and the Arabian Peninsula every night. Planes head towards Europe too. An estimated 25,000 kilograms per day are sold at the Awaday market. After coffee, khat is Ethiopia’s second-largest export, mostly to Somalia and other neighbouring nations. The"Khat industry is one of the leading agricultural sectors. The industry constitutes 4% of the country's export earnings and shares 9.4% of total merchandise export.”

A addict that has supposable been awake chewing khat for three days and three nights lays upon the floor in one of the processing rooms.

Women tend to hold a lot of power within the marketplace, usually the women handle the money and the men process the product. Here a khat dealer demonstrates the correct technique of chewing the amphetamine like plant.

Catha edulis (khat or chat in Ethiopia, jaad in Somalia, qat or gat in Yemen) is a small tree whose tender leaves and young buds are chewed to get a state of euphoria. The plant is mainly grown in different regions of Ethiopia, owing to its local and international demand. Countries like Yemen, Somalia and Kenya also cultivate this plant on a large scale to outsource other African and Middle Eastern countries. The colour of the leaves ranges from green, yellow and red depending upon the growth stage of the plant. 

The plant parts contain cathinone an amphetamine-like substance. Cathinone is oxidized to cathine within 72 hours of the harvest. Upon consumption cathine stimulates certain neurotransmitters of the brain like dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline that makes a user feel high. For many Ethiopians, chewing khat is just a part of life. Globally, each day it is estimated around 5 to 10 million people consume Khat, East African countries and southwestern Arabia are the utmost users. (WHO, 2006).

Khat boys in one of the many rooms used to prepare the plant which is illegal in many countries throughout the world.

 It is common to see young men sitting at the roadside, chewing the green-reddish leaves. In Ethiopia, people consume about 400 grams (14 ounces) per day on average, and sometimes much more. Many countries have banned the consumption of Khat, although there are no international controls in place. The illegality of Khat continues the year onwards which follows the ban in Netherlands, Canada and in the UK, which lists the plant as a class C drug in 2017.

After lunch every shop is closed and instead of the European siesta, people in the neighbourhood go to eat chat. In Ethiopia, people consume about 400 grams (14 ounces) per day on average, and sometimes much more. The use of the psychologically addictive leaf has also become the symptom of a largely unemployed youth. 

In Ethiopia, especially around Harar, chewing khat is commonplace."If you don’t eat chat we are not really a friend” said our fixer, holding out a small branch of the shimmering green leaves. The taste is bitter, so bitter that you can't chew it for more than a minute, at least if you're not used to it. In 2015, The Substance Rehabilitation Center in Mekele started a program for treating khat addiction, a controversial concept, since experts debate whether khat is addictive, and many Ethiopians consider the drug to be an important part of their culture.

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