Zimbabwe, which arguably after South Africa may be the second most developed country in southern Africa, provides investment opportunities in agriculture of which few Georgians may be aware, according to Lonzie White, a retired official from the Farmers Home Administration (FHA).
Mr. White told GlobalFax in a telephone interview from his home in Albany last week that the exchange rate of $1 to 16 Zimbabwe dollars in itself provides a powerful bang per buck.
While he considers that the country’s prospects for the future are bright, he added, however, that any investment would have to be made with an eye to long-term rewards.
Mr. White, who served as local administrator for the FHA in Early County from 1984-94, was in Zimbabwe April 6-27 under a program of the Washington D.C.-based private, non-profit Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs Inc. The organization is committed to stimulating economic growth in southern Africa and other areas of the world.
His assignment included helping the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union, a government-registered union with more than 700 members, develop a trust fund to be used for short-term loans and to guarantee member loans from commercial banks.
He met with representatives of several banks to discuss farmers’ needs for medium- and long-term financing whom, he said, reacted positively to the development of the trust fund. But, he added, members of the union themselves were hesitant to undertake the unknown risks of contributing to the fund.
He also said that not only do black farmers in south Georgia raise many of the same crops as Zimbabwe’s, but in both cases their efforts suffer from a lack of capital.
The Atlanta-based management consulting company D.J. Miller & Associates, which works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies on matters dealing with farms and farm programs, notified the Citizens Network about Mr. White’s availability to participate in the project.
For more information, Mr. White may be reached by calling (912) 435-2775. The telephone and fax numbers for D.J. Miller & Associates are (404) 876-7500; fax, (404) 876-2605.