Tanzanian authorities destroy 14 hectares of cannabis in Arusha

Authorities in Tanzania have destroyed 14 hectares (35 acres) of cannabis in the northern province of Arusha as they step up their ongoing war against the crop.

On Saturday alone, eight hectares were destroyed at the Meru forest reserve barely a week after another six acres were destroyed in an operation overseen by the Interior Minister Mwigulu Nchemba.

“We have decided to put a stop to the cannabis culture,” Timotheo Mzava, Arumeru administrative secretary said during Saturday’s operation.

“Some local officials are themselves complicit (in the trade) and we cannot accept that,” Mzava said, noting that three such officials were on the run.

“The government will carry out this operation in all corners of the country. We are going to arrest all persons implicated and nationalise all vehicles found to be carrying even the smallest quantity of cannabis,” the minister vowed this week.

Tanzania, which is one of the world’s largest cannabis producers, also sits on a clutch of major east African drugs routes with Arusha a key cannabis-producing area.

Much of its crop is well hidden in the country’s vast swathes of natural forest.

Corruption and limited resources have seen authorities struggle to stamp out the trade even though the drug is illegal in the country.

In contrast, neighbours Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda have seen eradication campaigns enjoy some success.

In 2010, total seizures of the plant totalled 279.5 tons, behind only Mexico and the United States.