HomePoliticsZim's castaway white farmers get red carpet

Zim’s castaway white farmers get red carpet

SCORES of white Zimbabwean farmers dispossessed of their farms under the government’s controversial land reforms have turned to countries in the region and beyond for sustenance, their union says.



=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Dozens have invested in farming in neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique, while others are preparing to settle in Nigeria.


Others have been invited to grow food for workers at mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


“These are business decisions relating to being able to economically sustain their lives,” said Doug Taylor-Freeme, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU).


“Obviously the first choice for the farmers is that they would like to continue farming in Zimbabwe, but as time goes past they have to look after their families and educate their children.


“That is why they tend to drift into other countries,” Taylor-Freeme said in an interview.


Thousands of white Zimbabweans have been driven from their farms since 2000 when President Mugabe instituted a policy of seizing and redistributing prime agricultural land to black people.


Taylor-Freeme said a number of countries are interested in Zimbabwean farmers investing in their countries.


“There are a number of countries that have contacted us to say they would like our expertise to help develop their agriculture,” he said. “The farmers are creating branches of their businesses throughout Africa with the hope that one day they will be able to invest back home.”


“The sad thing is that these are countries that used to be worried about the competition that Zimbabwe used to provide,” he added.


Taylor-Freeme, who was recently elected co-vice president of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, said among other countries that have expressed interest in Zimbabwean farmers are Ethiopia, Angola, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania.


Authorities in Nigeria’s central Kwara State have allocated 1 000ha of farmland to each of 15 Zimbabwean farmers on 25-year leases. The farmers will move in as soon as the infrastructure is in place.


A Nigerian government official said early this month that the Zimbabweans will carry out “irrigation farming and not conventional farming. This allows them to begin their farming any time they are ready.”


Of about 4 500 large-scale commercial farmers operating in Zimbabwe four years ago, about 600 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and own just 3% of the country’s land.


The 4 500 white farmers used to own a third of the country’s land, including 70% of prime farmland, before the government launched its reform programme in February 2000. — Sapa-AFP.

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