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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 14:59 GMT
Greener pastures for Zimbabwe's farmers
White farming family
Hundreds of white farmers have left Zimbabwe
Angola and Mozambique are encouraging white farmers from Zimbabwe to emigrate and settle in an attempt to revive their shattered agricultural sectors.

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe is adamant the farmers must go

Hundreds of white Zimbabweans have left for greener pastures in neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana.

Others are heading for Britain, the United States of America, Canada and Australia.

But Angola and Mozambique, both of which have massive agricultural potential, are keen to welcome new arrivals.

About 95% of white-owned land in Zimbabwe has been earmarked by President Robert Mugabe for seizure and redistribution to black people.

Mozambique welcome

Up to 15O mainly dairy and tobacco farmers from Zimbabwe have expressed interest in relocating to Mozambique.

Sores Nhaca, the governor of Manica province, said about 6O were expected to arrive this month alone.

Bread in Harare
Bread is in short supply after prices were fixed

"We want concrete investment commitments from them," he said, adding the farmers had sought rich farmland in Barue district, some 9Okm east of the Zimbabwean border town of Mutare.

It has been estimated that Mr Mugabe's redistribution plan is forcing large-scale farmers to abandon crops worth an estimated $600m.

Amid increasing shortages of the country's staple food, maize, it has also been estimated that about 1.2 million black farm labourers and their families will lose their jobs and homes in the redistribution programme.

But in Mozambique, Mr Nhaca said that ordinary people were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the farmers in the former Portuguese colony, potentially one of Africa's most prosperous nations.

The country is struggling to rebuild itself after a brutal 16-year civil war which began when Mozambique won independence from Portugal in 1975.

Fertile Angola

In Angola, another former Portugese colony, Zimbabwean farmers are reportedly planning to settle in the fertile province of Huambo.

According to a report in the official Jornal de Angola, 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) have been made available for them.

The farmers, whose number was not specified, were allotted land in Chipipa, about 20 km (12 miles) from Huambo town.

State Governor Paulo Kassoma told the Associated Press news agency he wanted the farmers to grow maize for export on abandoned estates.

They would help develop the state and create jobs, he said.

Maize production in Angola reached its peak in the 1970s at 790,000 tonnes per year, 40% of which was exported.

Production dropped dramatically because of Angola's civil war, which has raged almost nonstop since independence in 1975.

But authorities clearly hope that the Zimbabwean farmers will boost output.

Back in Zimbabwe, Commercial Farmers' Union spokeswoman Jenni Williams declined to comment on the increasing exodus of white farmers.

"We don't keep records of people leaving the country, but only those staying," she said.

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12 Feb 02 | Africa
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