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Swaziland's cash crop is marijuana

Aug. 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM

PIGGS PEAK, Swaziland, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The poor in rural Swaziland have a new income source, a potent strain of marijuana called Swazi Gold, to sell to neighboring South Africa, relief workers say.

In the mountainous northwest of the country, Africa's last true monarchy, few crops grow in the dusty soil and most of the men have left for jobs in cities. While the AIDS death rate has been curbed in Swaziland, families typically have older siblings caring for younger ones and grandparents caring for children, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

"There are many orphans and widows who have difficulty surviving," said Tshepiso Mthimkhule, a Red Cross official.

The rollout of an easy-to-grow crop with a strong market has been beneficial. South Africa has experienced rising demand for marijuana, and Swaziland has more acreage under marijuana cultivation than India, a country 180 times its size, United Nations statistics say.

"I put the seeds in the ground, watered them and they grew. I was able to feed my children," said Sibongile Knosi, 70, of her first crop.

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