Saturday, October 25, 2003

Zimbabwean Scots refugees from Mugabe's land-reforms have, according to this article, begun turning neighboring Zambia's agricultural economy into a boom sector. The details provided in the article seem to suggest that the refugees took their credit ratings with them, and have been using European capital to finance bumper crop harvests. This seems to illustrate just how stupid confiscatory "land reform" is - it wasn't the land that provided the white farmers of Zimbabwe their competitive advantage, it was their solid credit with world financial markets. The seized farms have mostly disappeared, with over 200,000 acres in cultivation declining to a little more than 20,000 this year.

After some googling, I've come across some background that is missing from the article. Zambia has been suffering from starvation conditions due to several years of drought and a stiff-necked refusal on the part of its dirt-ignorant president to accept genetically-modified grain from American donors. Of course, GM crops aren't necessary for improving on typical south African crop yields - chemical fertilizers and pesticides are more than enough to improve on the declining agricultural standards of the area. Further investigation seems to show that this year's Zambian maize harvest was more than twice the April projection. The Scotsman report seemed to indicate that the white farmers were just getting started in Zambia, and only represented around 2% of the harvest. Thus, it's hard to tell whether the bumper crop was mostly due to a feast year coming after two famine seasons, or whether the white refugees have been spreading the credit around, thus bootstrapping the Zambian agricultural sector with imported capital resources.

Original link via Joe Katzman at Winds of Change.

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