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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boers, South African farmers plan to settle down in the Republic of Georgia It's the online portal for the project Van Zyl, the director of the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU), has been masterminding for nearly a year now: to send South African farmers to Georgia to rehabilitate the Georgian agricultural sector, which has languished since the end of communism.

Many of the TAU's (predominantly white) members are fed up with farming in South Africa, hence the flood of queries. But mountainous Georgia is also so far away, it's almost unimaginable. On the wall behind his laptop, Van Zyl has pasted a map he uses to conjure up soothing, familiar images. Ajara, the province in the west by the Black Sea, "looks like Tzaneen", he told me, pointing, and Kakheti, the wine-growing region in the east, "reminds me of the Franschhoek or Paarl area, or the eastern Free State".

Farmland looks like farmland anywhere, to some degree. But here's the distinction Van Zyl draws between Georgia and South Africa that makes Georgia appear to be a promised land: he perceives a sense of possibility suffusing the landscape, of flush times to come, as opposed to already receding into the past.

Leading farmers to Georgia: Bennie van Zyl, director of the Transvaal Agricultural Union .
"Oh, Eve," he said, turning from the map, a smile spreading across his face, the irritations of the farmers' emails forgotten. "Georgia is the most beautiful country in the world!"

Read full article about white South African farmers planning to relocate and settle down in Georgia here: