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Zimbabwean Farmers Find a New Life in Nigeria

Farm 5: The 2,500 acres allocated to Alan Jack in west-central Nigeria.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR
Farm 5: The 2,500 acres allocated to Alan Jack in west-central Nigeria.

Forced out of Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe's infamous land-reform program, a small group of white farmers is taking advantage of a second chance in Nigeria.

Bukola Saraki, the governor of Kwara State, wooed the white commercial farmers despite some local opposition. He hopes to harness the expertise of the farmers from Zimbabwe to jump-start Nigeria's commercial agricultural sector. Nigeria spends billions annually on food imports.

Farmer Dan Swart says teaching people "the finer points of farming and finance" could "make Nigeria the breadbasket of West Africa."

A first-year yield of 4,000 tons of corn may be "the biggest single yield in Nigeria for the last 40 years," says farmer Alan Jack. He coordinated the move to Kwara state and he's recruiting an additional 40 farmers to join the initial band of 13.

As he prepared to fly to Zimbabwe to recruit more white farmers, Alan Jack said he looked forward to coming back to Nigeria, his new home.

"We're very happy here," he says. "We're back doing what we do best, which is farm... Africa needs more success stories."

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Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.