UNODC launched the "Nigeria Cannabis Survey" at a combined side-event on “Drone, open data and more: novel methods in monitoring illicit crop cultivation” organised during the 65th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).
The survey is the outcome of joint efforts of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Nigeria, the UNODC Country Office in Nigeria (CONIG), and the UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch, under the project “Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime in Nigeria” which is funded by the European Union. The project aims to support Nigeria’s efforts in fighting drug production, trafficking and use, and curbing related organised crime.
Cannabis is cultivated and produced in Nigeria for both domestic consumption and export. According to the 2018 Drug Use Survey, it is the most commonly used drug in Nigeria, with more than 10 per cent or 10.6 million of the adult population reporting use. Over half of those admitted to treatment for illegal drug use were admitted for cannabis use.
Being the first systematic exercise of its kind, the survey provides a baseline assessment of the extent of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria. It focuses on six south-western states of Nigeria that have been assessed as being at the highest risk for cannabis cultivation: Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo. The methodology includes a remote sensing survey covering an area of 4,500 km in the six identified states, capturing 17, 185 photos and collecting data from aerial overflights in 2019; and structured interviews in 2021 of NDLEA experts working in the same six states.
The key findings from of the survey are: (i) an estimated cultivation of 8,900 hectares of cannabis in six states with highest density in the border area between Edo and Ondo states; (ii) the location of cannabis fields deep inside dense forests, establishing linkages between cannabis cultivation and deforestation; (iii) cultivation of cannabis crop predominantly during the rainy season; (iv) cultivation of cannabis as a standalone crop and also in combination with other crops, the latter to hide cannabis plants, or to yield additional profits; (v); the primary role of hired labour in production indicating commercial practices and revealing that the main beneficiaries of cultivation were not necessarily those working on the fields; (vi) cultivation of cannabis in clusters; (vi); evidence of some degree of networks of cannabis farmers (viii) the predominant consumption of cannabis in the domestic market, with evidence of trafficking to other countries and; (ix) the involvement of organized crime groups in trafficking cannabis from the farms onwards.
However, the survey has its limitations. It covers only one crop (rainy season) in outdoor field settings and does not cover cannabis grown in backyards, scattered cultivation in forest areas, or greenhouse cultivation – all of which contribute to overall cannabis production in Nigeria. In addition, a qualitative research on the modus operandi and value chains can assist in assessing the extent to which cannabis cultivation poses domestic or transnational organised crime threats. Moreover, deforestation being a major threat to sustainable development in Nigeria, further research on the common drivers behind deforestation, cannabis cultivation, and possibly illegal logging can help undertake targeted development interventions.
The Nigeria-EU-UNODC partnership project Response to Drug and Related Organized Crime in Nigeria continues to assist Nigeria in achieving Sustainable Development Goals-3 and 16 respectively. As such it forms an integral part of UNODCs 2030 Strategic Vision for Nigeria