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June 22, 2007

Swazi official suggests cultivation of marijuana as a cash crop

The administrator of Swaziland's Manzini region, Prince Masitsela, has said there is an untapped potential of dagga (marijuana) being the core of the Swazi economy. The Prince made these remarks when speaking at the official opening of Manzini region's mini-agricultural summit.

Masitsela said he had been tipped off on the potential of dagga on several occasions whilst abroad, especially in Europe. "Lensangu yakini le ingu-grade one (this dagga from Swaziland is of the highest quality). Lensangu lifa lemaSwati (dagga is the real Swazi gold)," he related.

There are several street names for dagga, including marijuana, zol,
skyf, joint, weed, grass, s**t, pot, boom, ganja, dope, hash, smoke, mary jane, hemp and green gold.

Masitsela said since there were difficulties with legalising the herb, government should
consider monopolising dagga trade for itself, including taking care of growing and processing it as well as exporting it to eager overseas markets. He also suggested that the dagga be grown and processed locally into medication for exportation. He said the money generated from its sale could then be invested in subsidising the entire agricultural industry.

The debate about the herb's potential as a revenue spinner to boost the country's economy dates back a few years. Even though police have been destroying dagga fields every year, it is estimated that about 70 percent of farmers in the Hhohho region plant dagga for a living. Most of them have attributed this to poverty.

Swazi dagga has found its way not only to South Africa but also into the
European market. In Johannesburg, for example, it is called "Swazi Gold." The herb is usually smuggled into South Africa and Mozambique for shipment to Europe.

Swazi Observer

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