David Lombard was driven out of Zimbabwe in 2002 by government-inspired hostility to whites. But the 40-year-old farmer didn't abandon Africa altogether. Along with several dozen other whites demonized as colonial relics at home, Mr. Lombard moved across the border to neighboring Mozambique. There the government is recruiting white farmers to help build up its economy.
"When I got here, this was all bush," says the stocky, sun-creased farmer. Standing in khaki shorts beside an open-air house that lacks electricity and running water, Mr. Lombard points with pride at the surrounding paprika fields and sheds full of farming machinery. Mr. Lombard's cross-border migration was spurred by the opposite approaches taken by Zimbabwe and Mozambique to this explosive brew of race, class, agriculture and politics.
In Mr. Lombard's former homeland, President Robert Mugabe fanned a racial firestorm that pushed white farmers off their land.
Other African nations that lack white farming populations, such as Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and Senegal, also extended similar invitations, treating families like the Lombards as a valuable development resource.
Mozambique government officials say Mr. Lombard and the other white farmers from Zimbabwe and South Africa have already made a difference. According to government statistics, their 35 new farms in the Manica province have created more than 10,000 jobs on about 54,000 acres of previously unused land. The farms have introduced modern export-geared agriculture to the nation, churning out products such as flowers, tobacco and yogurt. "We never had fresh milk here before them," says Cremildo Rungo, a Manica agriculture official who has worked with white farmers since the influx began in 2002.
"Our people used to go to Zimbabwe to buy food. Now, it's the Zimbabweans who come to buy food here."
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