SA farmers want to relocate to Georgia

2010-10-28 22:25

Pretoria - Sixty South African farmers are interested in relocating and buying land in Georgia in Eastern Europe, agricultural union TAU SA said on Thursday.

"Anybody, not only South Africans, can go there. The state owns agricultural land in each of the 10 provinces and wishes to sell it to commercial farmers," deputy secretary Bennie Van Zyl said.

"More and more people are wanting information on this and want to be put on the list. This is a much better proposition compared to South Africa."

Asked whether this could result in a huge number of the country's 40 000 farmers leaving for Georgia, Van Zyl said it was too early to predict.

Most would like to stay but they were being chased by crime, corruption, water pollution and an unfriendly government, he said, adding that no government department at this stage was not a threat to the farmer.

"The first goal is to stay and make a positive contribution, but if we're not given a chance, what are we supposed to do?"

Because TAU SA has a memorandum of understanding with Georgia, farmers interested in getting a share of land there must go through the union.

Real farmers

"We will then ensure that they can actually farm and are not some fly-by-night."

According to Van Zyl, their relationship with Georgia dates back many years.

This is a great opportunity for farmers, because the government in Georgia is open-minded and has a future-driven approach, he said.

"The government knows that, without commercial farmers, the country can't go forward... commercial farmers are (a country's) biggest asset. It's a pity our government doesn't have this approach."

To kick-start the process of relocating farmers, TAU SA had been tasked with investigating the agricultural potential and possible investment opportunities for South Africans.

Georgia needs expertise as it wants to uplift its agricultural sector which was destroyed by socialism and communism about 70 years ago.

"They've requested the services of an advisory committee of three experts to assist them to ensure that the project is conducted properly, and that proper economic-driven principles are applied to determine how the land could be distributed in meaningful economic units," said Van Zyl.

Their services would be needed for a period of at least three months or more.

"They're in quite a hurry and would prefer to start the project on December 1," said Van Zyl.

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