FOR many Swazis, the dagga trade can mean the difference between life and death.Poverty reaches new lows in the tiny landlocked country. The average Swazi will live to only 48 and 29% of children under five are stunted. According to US think-tank Freedom House, 66% of Swazis are unable to meet their basic food needs.Dagga makes a difference. The powerful local variant of the drug is legendary among users in Europe and the US, to where it has been smuggled for decades. I n the past few years, insiders say, growing, harvesting and selling of the plant have become more organised and farmers have consolidated to set up semiformal operations.About 40km off the main road in a corner of the country lives Mandla, who, by his own reckoning -and reputation -manages one of the biggest dagga operations in Swaziland. He says he owns four of his own fields of about 4ha each (“I invest in property“) and buys the harvested and dried dagga from about 20 other farmers in the area.He is tall and wide ...

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