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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Nigeria signs Zimbabwean farmers
White farmers in Zimbabwe
Some 3,000 white Zimbabwean farmers have lost their land
A group of white Zimbabwean farmers have reached a deal to start farming in Nigeria within 60 days.

The western state of Kwara has promised to extend financial aid in return for the development of the state's agricultural sector.

The farmers are among those whose land was taken by the Zimbabwe government for redistribution to blacks.

One of the farmers said he hoped a further 200 Zimbabweans would move to Nigeria over the next five years.

Alternative homes

Alan Jack, who signed the memorandum on Tuesday, said that the farmers would initially come without their families.

With the first arrivals due in the next two months, he said there was still much to organise.

So far everything looks exceptionally good
Zimbabwean farmer Alan Jack
"We've got to get the finances in place, the structures in place and the physical planning of the farms," Mr Jack told the BBC.

The Kwara state government has promised to give them tax breaks, loans and help to develop infrastructure.

The BBC's Anna Borzello in Lagos says local officials hope the farmers will help kick start a sluggish agricultural sector and attract other foreign investors.

The farmers have expressed concern about Nigeria's reputation for corruption, but according to Mr Jack, "so far everything looks exceptionally good".

White farmers from Zimbabwe have been looking for alternative homes since President Robert Mugabe began seizing their farms four years ago.

Mr Jack said they were coming to Nigeria because the country was one of the first to ask.

He said local chiefs and elders were keen on the farmers coming to Kwara state because they would bring jobs, electricity and roads.

Nigeria's farms have been neglected since oil was discovered 40 years ago.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has also given his support for the project, saying Nigeria was "anxious to benefit from their expertise and experience".

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