Kigezi Police Struggles to Stem Marijuana Cultivation

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In short
Ely Maate, the Kigezi regional police spokesperson says they have tried their best to stop marijuana cultivation with little success.

Kigezi police are struggling to stop the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana, a banned substance. Kigezi region remains a center for large scale production of marijuana. Efforts by Police to stop the practice have failed to yield results because of the abundant market for the plant in Kampala, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
Ely Maate, the Kigezi regional police spokesperson says they have tried their best to stop marijuana cultivation with little success. Maate says that the largest percentage of criminal offences in the region is related to drug abuse.  On 19th August 2012, Police raided Kiyebe Parish Ruhija Sub County, which is known for marijuana cultivation forcing more than 500 people to flee their home.
 
According to the Police, every home in Ruhija Parish is engaged in the open cultivation and sell of marijuana. Farmers with gardens next to the fertile Bwindi National Park abandoned traditional farming for the illicit plant. Wilson Kakuru, a resident of Ndeego in Ikumba Sub County says they opted for marijuana cultivation because don’t do well in the area.

He says marijuana is less labor intensive and can’t be affected by both game and domestic animals. Felix Busesire another resident of Kiyebe Parish police is wasting time since the crop is popular and profitable. He says residents have for long been asking the leadership to provide alternative crops that cannot be destroyed by stray game animals from Bwindi National park in vain.
 
He says residents have gained a lot from the cultivation of marijuana and are able to send their children to school. In July 2013, Olivia Rosemary Wawire, the Kigezi Regional Police Commander wrote to the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura asking him to liaise with the agriculture ministry to provide an alternative crop to residents to stop Marijuana cultivation.
 
This was followed by a campaign to popularize the growing of tea in the areas in question but this has failed to take root. Wawile says they will not relent on the fight to stop the cultivation, sell and consumption of marijuana. She says police will continue sensitizing residents about the dangers of planting the banned plant.

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She says Plans are also underway to establish a police post in Kiyebe Parish to check on the problem right at the source.
 
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About the author

Anthony Kushaba
For Anthony Kushaba, journalism is not just a job; it is a calling. Kushaba believes journalism is one of the few platforms where the views of the oppressed and margainalised can be heard. This is what his journalism aims to do: bring to light untold stories.

Kushaba is the Mbarara region URN bureau chief. Mitooma, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Sheema, Isingiro, and Kiruhura districts fall under his docket. Kushaba has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Kushaba is a journalism graduate from Uganda Christian University Study Centre at Bishop Barham College in Kabale. Before joining URN, Kushaba worked with Voice of Kigezi (2008), Bushenyi FM (2010) and later on to Voice of Muhabura.

Kushaba's journalism interests centre on conflict, peace and electoral reporting. Kushaba occasionally writes on tourism, health, religion and education. He describes himself as highly driven and will pursue a tip until it yields a story.

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