Nigerian leader welcomes white Zim farmers

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday met a group of white farmers whose farms were seized by the Zimbabwean government and promised to help them overcome their initial financial and infrastructural problems in their new country.

Obasanjo, who visited the farmers

on their leased land on Friday at Shonga village, in central state of Kwara, also said he would love to see their farming model extended to other states.

“My intention is to sell your Kwara programme to a few more states,” an official statement quoted Obasanjo as saying.

In 2000, white farmers who owned about 70% of the most fertile land in Zimbabwe were ejected to make way for the landless black majority by the government of President Robert Mugabe.

About a dozen of these Zimbabwean farmers came to Nigeria five months ago to pioneer commercial farming in Kwara, where they have 15 000ha of land on 25-year leases from the government.

The head of the Zimbabwean farmers, Alan Jack, said Obasanjo was impressed by what he saw when he visited the farms.

“He (Obasanjo) was extremely happy at that. He then asked us to come and see him here (in Abuja) We highlighted some of the problems and he has been very helpful,” Jack told reporters.

He said that some of the problems include raising loans from the banks and gaining access to irrigation water.

Last month, Jack said on a visit to the farm site: “Nigeria is a great country. The villagers are accommodating and cordial. We no longer see ourselves as Zimbabweans. We have made this place our home.” — Sapa-AFP