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Nestlé quits Mugabe farm amid boycott threat

Global food giant Nestlé has said it will stop buying milk from a farm owned by the wife of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.

The Swiss-based company had faced worldwide boycott threats.

Nestlé said in a statement on Thursday that it had been buying from Grace Mugabe's farm because the cash-strapped national dairy board did not have the money itself.

The company said it had not wanted the milk to go to waste and had preferred to boost the country's deteriorating food supply.

In a statement, Nestlé said: "In light of the recent controversy surrounding our relationship with the Gushungo Dairy Estate, we believe that this announcement reflects our long-term commitment to Zimbabwe while acknowledging the specific circumstances around these events."

Nestlé said that local authorities would resume buying the farm's milk.

The farm, from which Nestlé had purchased ten to 15 per cent of its local milk supply, had been seized under controversial land reforms. The boycott calls came after reports in Britain's Telegraph newspaper that the farm's former owner, who is white, sold the farm after a campaign of violence against him.

Mugabe's seizure of white commercial farms for blacks have drawn heavy criticism from Western countries, which say their aid won't flow to help Zimbabwe's economic recovery until the land grabs stop, and political and economic reforms are implemented.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper carried a story accusing the Western media of pressuring Nestlé to pull out of what was once one of Africa's most promising countries.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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