Cannabis cultivation worsens Africa's food shortages
The UN agency said the profits from cannabis and other drugs were also fuelling the continent's wars.
In Ivory Coast, Liberia and the Central African Republic, rebels and militia fought with arms bought in part with drug money, according to its report.
Cannabis has become "a significant economic crop" for export in west and central Africa after the prices of agriculture products dropped on the international market, the INCB said.
Cannabis cultivation has been feeding local demand for the drug in east Africa and in the war-torn Sudan it has worsened the existing food shortage as farmers switch to the more lucrative, illicit crop, it said.
"The economic and environmental impact of cannabis cultivation, particularly the abandonment of traditional crops, as well as deforestation, are of great concern."
Though hard drug abuse was on the increase in Africa, cannabis remains the drug that is most widely grown, traded and consumed on the continent, and most of it comes from southern Africa.
"The major producers are South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique, in that order."
The INCB said a quarter of all cannabis confiscated by authorities was found in Africa, with "the bulk of the cannabis being seized by South Africa."
There have also been big busts, however, in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania.
According to the report, Morocco is among the world's leading cannabis producers and "the source of 60 to 70 percent of the cannabis resin seized in Europe."
Spain remains the route of choice for smuggling Moroccan cannabis to the rest of Europe, but efforts by the Spanish and Portuguese police to stop the flow has seen some it diverted to Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and sub-Saharan countries, the INCB said.
In Egypt, police in 2002 seized more than 59 tonnes of cannabis compared to seven tonnes in 1996.
Cannabis is also being smuggled across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, according to the report.
The INCB said heroin was being smuggled through Africa to be sold in Europe but it had noted with great concern that some was also "being smuggled into South Africa, where its abuse has increased, particularly among the youth."
"Of particular concern is the increase in injecting drug abuse in the major urban areas of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.
"That trend is worrisome as the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is very high in South Africa."
It said cocaine from South America destined for Europe continued to be smuggled mostly from Brazil through African states like Angola, Nigeria and South Africa.
But cocaine was also increasingly being confiscated by authorities in Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, the Cape Verdian islands, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique and Namimbia.
Mandrax abuse was still a big problem in southern and eastern Africa, especially in southern Africa where it is the most common drug after cannabis.
The INCB said it came from India and China, and was often smuggled through Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
rok-ef/jms/nb AFP 030002 GMT 03 04
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/02/2004 19:07:08
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