Pubdate: Sat, 23 Jul 2005
Source: Arusha Times, The (Tanzania)
Copyright: 2005 Arusha Times.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Arusha - As a UN Report lists Tanzania as the second largest marijuana 
producer in Africa after South Africa there is fear that the drug is 
becoming the mainstay of the economy of some remote villages north-west of 
Arusha .

This month and August is the main harvest season of marijuana in some of 
the villages north of Oldonyo Sambu, off Arusha-Namanga Road and business 
of the illegal drug is booming.

An investigation by this newspaper indicates that the villages are now a 
beehive of activities as farmers are engaged in brisk transactions with 
dealers who smuggle the drug out of the villages. The password for buyers 
is "Hakuna kulala (No sleeping) ".

An eyewitness told the Arusha Times that up to 10 bales of Marijuana 
commonly known as bhang are daily brought down from Mount Meru by foot or 
loaded on donkeys using a route straddling a canyon and is deposited at a 
secret location near Oldonyo Sambu village.

Women are increasingly being involved in transporting bales of Marijuana 
while men scout the routes to make sure that they do not meet law enforcing 

 From the many depots along Nairobi Road, marijuana consignments are 
transported by vehicles to the Namanga boarder post, Arusha city and the 
Mererani mining village in Simanjiro district. The largest consignment is 
destined to Nairobi where major buyers are located. Nairobi serves as the 
distribution point for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of 
Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan.

A peddler who has just served a three-year jail term in Kenya, said the 
route between Ngaramtoni and Namanga did not bother him much compared to 
the Kenyan side which he said has many check points. That was where he was 
nabbed and sent to prison.

Another peddler claimed that the business is lucrative and therefore worth 
the risk. He was quick to point out individuals who have made it by farming 
or trafficking the drug. Many are awash with cash, he claimed. They take 
advantage of the fact that they operate in a vast territory that is 
inaccessible by vehicles, thus there is little chance of being busted by 
Police who are often ill equipped.

In the remote areas marijuana is intercropped with food crops such as maize 
and peas. Other famous areas for cultivation of Marijuana are the Usambara 
mountains and the southern highlands, but according to those familiar with 
the illegal product Arusha's variety is favored and highly priced because 
of its potency. "It flowers quickly in one's head."

A UN Report quoted by the East African shows that Tanzania ranked fourth in 
the world as a producer of dried-and-ready-for consumption Marijuana.

About 330 Tanzanians are serving sentences in various jails world wide for 
drug trafficking.