Newsbrief: Mozambique, Swazi Farmers Find Dagga Crop Lucrative, But Have to Adjust to Market Trends 8/1/03

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Police in the southern African nations of Mozambique and Swaziland are complaining that they can't fight market forces. So are thousands of small farmers in the two countries. It's all about dagga, the local term for the ubiquitous marijuana plant. According to a report filed by Inter Press Service, police efforts to eradicate the plant are doomed to failure in a poverty-stricken nation where dagga is much more profitable than other crops. But the country's dagga farmers are having to adjust to changing European market tastes -- the Euros want hash and cannabis oil these days, officials told IPS.

Mozambican, Swazi and South African dagga is grown primarily for the export market and little is sold locally, said David Pritchard, president of the Mozambican Council Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse. "Most of the people of the region do not purchase marijuana, because they grow it themselves if they want it, despite the illegality," said Pritchard. "The farmers' interest is export, and their operations, such as the purchase of insecticide and irrigation equipment, are financed by the South African drug lords who purchase their crops."

Half of Africa's population lives on less than a dollar a day, but there is an upside to that, Pritchard said. "Perhaps the only 'advantage' to the endemic poverty of the region is that young people do not have the disposable income to buy drugs."

Mozambique and Swaziland are part of the 14-member Southern African Development Community, which has committed to joint anti-drug efforts in the region. Cooperation with South African police last year let Swaziland claim to have destroyed half of the crop, but it just keeps coming. Local farmers claim a cultural right to grow the plant, which they have done for centuries, according to IPS, but it is the money that is the main motivation. Some 70% of small farmers in the Swazi region of Hhohho plan to continue their dagga crops, the agricultural ministry reported.

Local drug warriors don't want to hear about economic or cultural reasons for dagga growing. "All SADC countries have signed anti-drug protocols, and these oblige them to stop drug trafficking in their nations, and cooperate with regional efforts to do the same," said Swazi police inspector Joseph Masuku.

But now local farmers have another problem: European demand for cannabis oil, or "chocolate." Local harvests are stacking up as farmers make deals with South African dealers to obtain extracting machines, police sources told IPS. "The demand for marijuana resin appears to be customer-driven, but it also assists drug lords who don't have to worry about shipping large amounts of bulk marijuana," the police source said.

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Issue #298, 8/1/03 Kansas City Drug Fighting Tax Encounters Organized Opposition | Prison Population Increase Accelerates, Up 2.6% Last Year | Brazil's Lula Backslides on Drug Reform, Grants Military Continued Control Over Anti-Drug Agency | This Week in History | Newsbrief: Mozambique, Swazi Farmers Find Dagga Crop Lucrative, But Have to Adjust to Market Trends | Newsbrief: Brazil Bans Viagra Ads | Newsbrief: British Young People Using More Hard Drugs, Health Department Says | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Another Pain Doctor Charged With Murder | Newsbrief: Florida Ex-Cons to Get Voting Rights | Mini Briefs: Illinois Syringe Deregulation, James Geddes Released | Web Scan: OPN, HRC, Cultural Baggage, Salon.com | The Reformer's Calendar

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