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Saturday, 26 February 2011

ETHIOPIA agriculture lands for sale/lease procedures

Introduction:-
Ethiopian government has revised its agricultural land lease price, which has been attracting many investors for the past years.


Government believes that agricultural land in the country was not getting proper value and protection. The directorate has now prepared revised agricultural land lease price and expect that it will soon be approved by the government.

According to the information New Business Ethiopia obtained from Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, the new lease price takes into consideration the distance of the farm to Djibouti port, Port Sudan and central market – Addis Ababa.
According to the Agricultural Investment Support Directorate at the ministry, which has prepared the revised lease price, if the farm is located 700 kms away from Addis Ababa, the investor is expected to pay 111 birr (around 8 USD) / hectare per annum for rain-fed agriculture.



As the area gets nearer to the central market Addis Ababa, the price will increase by 4.05 birr per kilometer and as it goes far from 700 kms from Addis Ababa, the price declines by 4.05 birr per kilometer.


When it comes to irrigation farming the lease price will be 158 birr per hectare per annum  and it will increase or decrease per every kilometer by 4.17 birr.  According to this draft lease term, this lease price is subject to revision in every 10 year. And the investors lease the land for 25 years for annual crops and 45 years for perennial crops.


The Directorate hopes that the revised price will encourage genuine investors; create competitive balance among investors and regional investment balance.


So far investors are not paying for water and the Ministry of water plans to introduce water fee as the current situation shows that some area residents like Afar have suffered from water shortage because of agricultural investment, especially when investors bring many daily-laborers to their farms from other parts of the country.


So far, the Directorate has identified 2.9 million hectares of land as potential for commercial agriculture all over the country. Out of this, three regions have transferred a total of 1.74 million hectare to the Directorate - 180,625 in Southern Region, 834,199 in Gambella and 724,984 in Benishangul Gumz Region.


Of which it has allotted a total of 59,931 hectares of land to investors - 34,431 in Southern region and 25,431 in Benishangul Gumz.
All commercial agricultures going on in the country including the giant Karuturi and Saudi Star agricultural projects are expected to sign the revised lease price agreement and are expected to be registered and monitored by this centralized Directorate.


The main reason for establishing this directorate by the Ministry is said will make sure that the land is used properly for the desired purpose (mainly generate foreign exchange by producing exportable agricultural products) by the investors.


“The Ministry has realized that previously land is abused by some investors.  Some investors were renting the land they rented from government to others, while different regions do not have clear records on the size of land they distributed to investors,” says expert at the ministry, who choose to not to be named.


“In fact, some investors were not providing the necessary facilities such as healthcare for their employees who work on their farms, some investors do not even have transparent bookkeeping and pay taxes to the government properly,” she added.
The revised agricultural land lease price prepared by the directorate is expected to be approved by the government soon.
The directorate is established at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in January 2009 to regulate all investments in agriculture.


Its mandate includes identifying potential land for agriculture in the country, taking this land from all regions and transferring it to investors. It also monitors activities of the investors and provides both technical and administrative support to these investors.


The previous agricultural land lease price varies from one region to another. For instance in Oromia Region if an investor wanted to be engaged in coffee, tea, sugarcane, or any other perennial crops on an area of more than 100 hectares, he/she will get land free of lease for the first 4 years.
Ethiopia is a country endowed with abundant and diversified natural resources and diverse climate. It has also several agro-ecological zones and sub-zones, each with its own physical and biological potential. These and other factors make the country favorable for undertaking investment in various areas.
The priority areas of investment that the Government most wants to attract Foreign direct investment/FDI/ as well as domestic investment include:
Horticulture,
Floriculture,
Agro-processing,
Textile and garment and
Leather and leather products
Other areas of investment include agriculture and allied activities (livestock’s, fishery, forestry, etc), mining, cement tourism, grade I construction, services such as health and education, hydropower, etc
This is a country of the bent back and the silver sickle, where virtually all the crops have felt the calloused fingers of the peasant farmer working his tiny parcel of state-owned land. The ox pulls the plough and the donkey the cart, and fertiliser counts as agricultural technology.

Chugging into this picture on a bright green John Deere tractor came Hanumantha Rao, a former sugarcane farmer from India who is at the forefront of a revolution sweeping through Ethiopian farming. He hurried up to a hilltop on his company's farm in Bako, four hours' drive from the capital, Addis Ababa, and swept out an arm to indicate the land he has leased from the government: 11,000 hectares to grow rice, maize and oil palms.

In the fields below, boreholes were being sunk and roads graded. An airstrip will soon allow for a crop-spraying plane. Besides the new tractor Rao had been riding on that morning, there were 30 more on site. That was not many, he insisted, and neither was the farm especially large.

Further west in Gambella, Karuturi Global, the listed Indian horticulture company that employs Rao, is bringing in 1,000 new tractors to work the 300,000 hectares it has leased – making it one of the biggest farms in the Horn of Africa, if not the continent. "It is 120 kilometres [75 miles] wide," Rao said proudly. "Three hours to cross by Jeep."

Ethiopia's great land lease project is moved swiftly ahead. In an effort to introduce large-scale commercial farming to the country, the government is offering up vast chunks of fertile farmland to local and foreign investors at almost giveaway rates. By 2013, 3m hectares of idle land is expected to have been allotted – equivalent to more than one fifth of the current land under cultivation in the country.

The move is part of a wider trend that has seen other African and Asian countries seek to take advantage of high global demand and the cost of crops by offering agricultural land to foreign companies, private equity funds and governments, particularly those of import-dependent Gulf countries.

If done properly, the investments have the potential to increase local food availability and create badly needed jobs. If not – as was the case with the attempt by the South Korean firm Daewoo to lease half of Madagascar's arable land to grow corn for export in 2008, a deal many saw as 21st- century colonialism – they could prove disastrous.

In a food-insecure country such as Ethiopia, where several million people rely on food aid, the idea of offering fertile land to outsiders has raised concerns. But government officials point out that Ethiopia has vast reserves of underused land – 60m hectares of the country's 74m hectares suitable for agriculture is not cultivated – and insist no local farmers will be adversely affected. Esayas Kebede, investment support co-ordinator at the agriculture ministry, said that foreign companies were essential for the move from subsistence to commercial farming, a key part of the country's development strategy.

"There is no crop that won't grow in Ethiopia but we cannot produce quantity and quality. Why? It's a vicious cycle of the lack of capital and technology," he said. "So leasing land is a real opportunity for us."

So too for Karuturi. The Bangalore-based company, which is the world's largest grower of roses, has negotiated an extraordinarily good deal with the government. For its farm in Bako, Karuturi is paying no rent for six years and then only 135 birr (£6.50) per hectare per year for the remainder of the 50-year lease. In Gambella, a remote and sparsely populated region close to Sudan, the rent is only 15 birr per hectare (73p).

The company believes the potential for large profits is so great that it plans to invest nearly $1bn in its Ethiopian agricultural operations, according to managing director Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi. Within eight years, he hopes to be producing 3m tonnes of cereals – mostly maize and rice – a year on the Gambella farm, as well as palm oil and sugar. Some of the produce will be sold in Sudan and Kenya – where the company is in talks with the US Agency for International Development to build grain silos at a border town. Like all the foreign land investors in Ethiopia, the company is free to export as much of its produce as it likes, but Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi said most would be sold domestically, where there is a ready market.

"Ethiopia is a food importer and will continue to be for some time. With the high cost of transportation in Africa, it does not make sense for us to try to export beyond the region."

As with land, labour is also extremely cheap. The minimum wage in Ethiopia is about 8 birr (39p) a day. Karuturi, which hopes eventually to employ 20,000 people on its two farms, says it pays 10 birr (49p) a day and provides meals to its workers.

Rao, general manager of the Bako farm, said there was no shortage of locals desperate for jobs. "People here are very poor. They would work for 1 birr, and no one else pays more than 5 birr. So we are paying double."

Outside the farm gates, the feeling about Karuturi among peasant farmers was mixed. The company's 11,000 hectares were fallow before it arrived – the black clay soil is rich in nutrients but difficult to work without a mechanical plough – but some locals had grazed their cattle there and used to cross the farm to the nearest river, which is no longer possible.

Teresa Agassa, a 38-year-old man in gumboots who works a one-hectare plot, said it was good that some local people now had jobs – even if the wage was too small. But he spoke enviously of Karuturi's tractors.

"They're only for the company's benefit. Maybe there can also be benefits for us – but we will only know in the future."
Ethiopia's farming revolution

In the late 1970s Ethiopia's communist regime nationalised all land, and private ownership remains outlawed. The millions of small-scale farmers work under licence from the state, and most plots are one hectare or less, which has hampered efforts to improve food security. But the centralised tenure system has made it easy for the government to offer hundreds of idle farms to investors at cheap rates. A detailed database contains information on soil types, weather patterns, the nearest rivers, and suitable crops. The agriculture ministry is advertising 1.68 million hectares of land in the Benishangul-Gumuz, South Omo and Gambella regions. The greatest interest has come from India and Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Star Agricultural Development, which is growing 10,000 hectares of rice in Gambella. Firms from other Arab countries, and from China, Japan and the US have also expressed strong interest in leasing land.

Indian farmers all set to acquire 50,000 hectares of farm land on lease in Ethiopia

CHANDIGARH: Punjab-based farmers, who are known for feeding the country, now want to try their hands offshore, with a group of progressive farmers all set to acquire 50,000 hectares of farm land on lease in Ethiopia for growing high-value cash crops, including pulses and maize.

“We will be inking a deal with the Ethiopia government next month for getting at least 50,000 hectares of area for growing crops like pulses and maize, which will be exported to India and Europe,” Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers President Sukhjit Singh Bhatti told here.

Bhatti will lead a delegation of 16 interested potato growers from Punjab to carry out farming in Ethiopia.

What encouraged these potato growers to try their hand at farming overseas was land availability at almost throwaway rates, duty free imports of capital goods and the zero duty on farm exports offered by Ethiopia.

“Unlike here, most of the agricultural land is with the Ethiopian government and it has offered us to acquire land on lease for a period ranging between 25 to 40 years at a nominal rate, which works out to Rs 400 per acre per annum in Indian currency. Moreover, we will not have to pay for the first five years of our operations,” he said.

Furthermore, the cropping pattern in Ethiopia is not that intense as it is in Punjab. “With less pressure on land there (Ethiopia), the soil will be suitable for growing pulses, maize and other cash crops,” he said, adding, “These crops will be exported to India and Europe.”

The Ethiopian government has also assured that it will not levy any duty on the import of machinery like farm implements and export of agricultural commodities.

The Ethiopian Ambassador to India led a delegation from Punjab to his country in the month of June and asked Punjab farmers to invest in farming. The Punjab farmers were shown three farm estates, including Oromia, Gambella and Ben Hul Gul by Ethiopian authorities when they visited the country.

According to Bhatti, the initial cost for farming in Ethiopia works out to Rs 1.5 crore per 100 hectares of land. “This cost involves spending on infrastructure, farm machinery and land development,” he said.

The idea of land cultivation in foreign country has also clicked with the Punjab government, as state-owned Punjab Agro plans to take eight farmers from the state to CIS countries including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan next month to explore the possibility of cultivating land on lease and exporting fruits, vegetables, basmati rice, etc.

This year, the ambassadors of various African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda, visited Punjab and encouraged farmers of the state to till the land in their countries.
IFC Provides a $30 Million Loan Guarantee for Ethiopian Coffee Farmers The United States government on Thursday signed a $ 229.3 million agreement with Ethiopia
Ruchi Soya takes farm land on lease in Ethiopia

GRAIN, International non-profit NGO based in Spain
2008 Report by GRAIN: Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security

Pact with Govt to cultivate soyabean, set up processing unit.

Ruchi Soya Industries, one of the leading edible oil processors, on Friday announced a major farm land acquisition in Ethiopia for soybean cultivation.

The company said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ethiopian Government for cultivation of soyabean and setting up a processing unit on 61775 acres in Ganmbella and Benishangul Gumaz States on a lease basis for 25 years.

It has an option to increase the area under cultivation to 123,550 acres. However, it did not reveal investment details.

Looking overseas

“Ethiopia has been chosen for agriculture investment considering the availability of labour, its strategic location and the Government support to boost foreign investment and development,” Ruchi Soya informed the stock exchanges on Friday.

The company’s closest competitor, KS Oils, in October last invested Rs 380 crore to acquire 53,000 acres at Kalimantan in Indonesia for palm plantation.

The funding was done through the wholly-owned subsidiary, KS Natural Resources, Singapore, which received a Rs 375-crore-infusion from the parent company.

The company had earlier bought 85,000 acres in two tranches in the last two years.

Constrained by the availability of cultivable land and hiccups in contract farming, Indian agricultural companies are looking at global destinations for backward integration.

Tie ups with State Govts

Ruchi Soya gained the potential to develop palm plantation of about 89,000 hectares by entering into tie-ups with various State governments.

The country would continue to depend on imports for its edible oil requirement.

The oilseeds coverage in the rabi season as on January 7 was lower by six per cent at 84.23 lakh hectares against 90.01 lakh hectares logged in the same period last year. Ms Shraddha Umarji, Research Analyst, NCDEX, said the dry weather had led to a decline in the acreage of the winter-sown oilseeds.

This may lead to a strain on edible oils supply, forcing imports.

The vegetable oil imports in November were at 753,966 tonnes (555,342 tonnes). Edible oils constituted 712,677 tonnes while non-edible oils import was at 41,289 tonnes.

“A lowering of import duties coupled with an increase in consumption and high price elasticity had resulted in large-scale imports,” she said.

Ruchi Soya stocks on the BSE were down marginally by 0.73 per cent at Rs 95 and KS Oils closed down 0.60 per cent at Rs 75.

International agricultural land deals award Ethiopian virgin lands to foreign companies
Published: 13 Aug 2009
 China | EU | Ethiopia | FAO

During the last one year, the international media have reported with noticeable frequency on international agricultural land deals in Ethiopia.

Abugida Info | August 13th, 2009

Experts worry about negative consequences

By Genet Mersha

In Ethiopia, land is under government control and, therefore, cannot be sold or bought. Of the dozen or so African countries engaged in such deals, for varied reasons the cases of Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and the Sudan have also attracted similar attention. Perhaps the only commonality between Ethiopia and these countries is that they are all far ahead of others in that experience, as they have concluded several international farmland lease deals in the past five years. Nevertheless, much of the information is still under wraps.

Consequently, this venture into unknown territories by poor developing countries with weak institutional capacities and frail system of rule of law has sent worrying signals to concerned global citizens. This, thus, has placed the new mode of international agricultural land deals in developing countries under laser-sharp scrutiny. The more experts learn about the phenomenon of international farmland deals, the more concerned they become by the consequences of such deals between unequally matched partners. The fear is that, the hunger in many developing countries for farm investment from rich foreign companies may end up compelling them to hand over their only assets to international investors (through international contractual agreements).

Stefano Manservisi, director-general of aid and development at the European Commission says, “We are very concerned because this is another way to exploit developing countries… The poorest countries are selling commodities, they are exporting migrants and now they are selling their land from which they will not take any kind of benefit in terms of food or whatever.”

Of equal concern is the survivability of millions of small-scale farmers against the onslaught of competition by well-greased commercial farms. An analyst at the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in India says, “Outsourcing food production will ensure food security for investing countries but would leave behind a trail of hunger, starvation and food scarcities for local populations… The environmental tab of highly intensive farming—devastated soils, dry aquifer and ruined ecology from chemical infestation—will be left for the host country to pick up” (Guardian April 7, 2009).

Not least, against the backdrop of rapid global climatic change, the worry of those who have seen the light is the impact of fast expanding commercial agriculture on the natural environment. In this connection, without including existing commercial farms, recall that even the 13.3 million small-scale agricultural holders in Ethiopia open up over a million hectares of virgin lands annually, i.e., according to the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (CSA, 2008 Abstract).

Why worry about land rental deals?

International investors interested in African agriculture are fast growing in number. Their action is induced by the need of the rich with less endowed agricultural lands to ensure their continued supply of food with cheaper prices and winning the competition against ethanol. Others are interested in making more money. The objective of Chinese holdings in Ethiopia for sesame production, or the new Indian venture in Ethiopia into tea, bio-fuel, and sugarcane and cotton production has no any other reason.

Still others are keeping worried looks on the heavy burden of food prices on their balance of payments, as in the case of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which spent $10 billion in 2008 on food imports (Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News). Therefore, motivated by the need to counter this problem, the GCC have announced this year their desire to turn Africa as their breadbasket. The process has started by strengthening the GCC-Africa Co-operation Forum, funded by both OPEC Funds and national earmarks by the five member countries of the GCC had already held its first meeting in Bahrain recently. Initially, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania have signed on. Thus, virgin farmlands have been selected and the infusion of huge investments has begun in earnest into these countries.

Oliver De Schutter, special envoy for food at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says, “This is speculation betting on future prices. What we see now is that countries have lost trust in the international market. We know volatility will increase in the next few years. Land prices will continue to rise. Many deals are even now being negotiated. Not all are complete yet.”

Similarly, China has taken steps to produce sesame in Ethiopia as of this year, which is the first of its kind. Recall that Ethiopia is the fourth largest sesame producer in the world; its natural sesame from whitish Humera seeds and machine-washed from Wollega fetch highest prices. Other parts of Ethiopia also produce good sesame; but what they need is some help in improving the production techniques and the producers’ exposure to the market. This requires improved policies to enhance agricultural production and overcome the country’s weak export capacities that have stood as barrier before millions of producers.

Until now, China has been Ethiopia’s leading export destination for most of its sesame. The EU and the US that normally imported from India have also turned to Ethiopia’s natural sesame lately. Records on global exchanges indicate that 150 countries import sesame seeds. While the prospect for sesame producers is brightening up, clearly the tilt to involving millions of ill-equipped peasant producers in unmatched competition by China on fertile virgin lands mostly should be cause for serious concern for Ethiopia and its friends. Since August 2008, sesame has been fetching $1,380 per tonne in the international commodity market. The natural sesame from Ethiopia has been priced around $1,400 for sometime, according to Business Standard.

Consequently, it is hardly with unfounded reasons that such investor interests and the latest trends in African agriculture have compelled the international community to break its silence. The concern is that Sub-Saharan Africa is fast becoming a hotspot for international land acquisitions.

In terms of local responses so far, the controversy has ended up in the overthrow of the government in Madagascar. As its first action, Madagascar’s army backed leader last March cancelled a deal by South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics to lease a million hectares of Madagascar—equivalent to the size of Qatar—to grow food, according to Reuter. Ever since, Madagascar’s has been embroiled in serious instability and political polarization. In some other deal making countries, negative sentiments may be there, although for now governments and businesses have managed to prevent any possibilities for loud or violent forms of expression of resentment.

Growing international concerns

Meantime, at the international level fresh controversies have begun to brew amongst experts, individual activists, and non-governmental organizations. Many are urging international organizations to step up to the plate and do their job on behalf of people that are ignored by their governments. For now, much of the media reporting has remained superficial. It has been terribly short on essentials of the deals or essence of the on-going controversies. Last spring, different non-governmental organizations engaged the FAO and its experts in intense debates along that direction. Their concern zeroes in on what they referred to as “land grabs.” The point they are driving home is concern for the voiceless, stressing the imperative need for careful review of the future trend of agriculture in developing countries in general and food production in particular.

David Hillam, FAO deputy director in charge of the trade and markets division who opened the Washington conference entitled ‘Land Grab”: The Race for the World’s Farmlands’ last March expressed the overall concern cogently. He said, “Imagine empty trucks being driven into, say, Ethiopia, at the time of food shortages caused by war or drought, and being driven out again full of grain to feed people oversees…Can you imagine the political consequences? That is why proper legal structures need to be put into place to protect land rights, and why we should look at some form of international code of conduct.”

Ruth Meinzen-Dick, researcher at the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (FPRI) encapsulated the essence of the debate at the international level to IPS saying, “The bargaining power in negotiating these agreements is on the side of the foreign investor, especially when its aspirations are supported by the host state or local elites.” Uwe Hoering, a German development expert, who followed these debates dubbed the whole land deal issue “a new form of agrarian colonialism.”

There is no doubt that the arrangements are complex. Let alone for the media, even professional researchers find it difficult to get a crack at it, even when vigorous analyses of such deals, filling the gaps and developing informed understanding of the opportunities and risks is a part of their vocation. What makes it complicated is the home governments’ role and connections with the robust, politically and financially well-wheeled investor companies, countries and individuals, not to speak of their ultimate objectives and the consequences. Whereas the media’s interest in the matter has aroused international curiosity, until recently concern over the matter has hardly moved beyond scratching the surface of the mega-million dollar international deals on agricultural lands.

Ethiopia, part of new study on international farmland lease arrangements

With the publication in May 2009 of a report entitled Land Grab or Development Opportunity? Agricultural investment and International Land Deals in Africa, the information gap for now is being filled somewhat. This international report, backed by an extensive research undertaken in Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan—the very countries on which media reporting has sharply focussed, depends on data available in the countries. Case studies on legal arrangements were also conducted in Mozambique and Tanzania. The report is the outcome of collaborative efforts between FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

Funding for the international research was provided by bilateral governmental agencies such as Danida (Denmark), DFID (UK), DGIS (the Netherlands), Irish Aid, Norad (Norway), SDC (Switzerland) and SIDA (Sweden). The publication of the report was funded by FAO, IFAD, and DFID, the latter through IIED.

The report stresses that land is central to identity, livelihoods and food security of peoples in the host countries. That in view, therefore, it does not shy from expressing its concerns boldly. Such is one that, for instance, many of the countries involved in this practice do not have in place institutional mechanisms to protect the rights of small-scale farmers and rights and interests of the local population, nor the environment. These countries also do not have qualified personnel and sufficient experiences in land markets to assess and determine land lease contracts in market values. For all that is known to date, in many instances deals have been kept either in total secrecy or under less transparent cover. This could be either the choice of host countries or those skilful international investor-negotiators wishing to keep their deals under wrap, or coincidence of the interests of both parties.

Where have the rental fees gone?

A question in the minds of citizens in these countries and around the world is whatever happened to the money, for instance, which is not even reported in the case of Ethiopia in the records of government treasury, or as part of income, for instance, in the national budget outlays. For example, the 2010 Ethiopian national budget was approved less than three months ago, with no reference at all to such incomes. If indeed, it is aggregated under the revenue section, it is long overdue that it was indicated specifically as revenue from land rental fees.

The finance ministry usually reports in national budgets sources of revenues and incomes such as direct and indirect taxes, foreign transfers, foreign aid and loans, private transfers, royalty, dividends and project support, etc. Why not this one? That would have been one helpful indication of what the monies from land rents are used for. Surprisingly, the information does not even appear anywhere in the quarterly and annual reports of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).

Can there be an explanation for this? Or should we remain silenced for fear of labelling, as usual, those raising such a questions of national concern by government and its agents as work of the power hungry diaspora, or hired guns for the opposition that the regime portrays its questioners as anti-peace or anti-‘Ethiopian democracy’? This time no matter the label, we are all in it for our country’s future and, therefore, good citizens would not change their minds on the pressing need to put the information on contracts on agricultural lands with foreign firms and the incomes in the public realm.

Even in its cautious and minimalist approach, the above-mentioned international report indicates that land under investor claim in Ethiopia between 2004 and early 2009 to be 607,760 ha. FAO estimates put that as 1.39 % of suitable land for rain-fed agriculture. The number of projects over 1,000 ha is 157 and the total investment commitment is reported as $78,563,023, which is far down from the real figure. It certainly is not so huge in terms of magnitude.

The report also warns that these figures may not be all that there is to it. There are a number of deals that have not been reflected in the national data records. The authors attribute that partly to inadequate national record keeping system. For instance, although not in the public arena yet, the TribuneBusiness claims (March 2009), quoting the London Independent, Saudi Arabia alone had paid Ethiopia $100 million for farmlands in March to grow wheat and barley. Therefore, there is concern that some of them may not even be reported at all.

There is no doubt that good governance means transparency. Why should a government suppress information, unless it fears that its fingers will be held in fire? Therefore, there is no justification whatsoever for those government of Ethiopia, as it is involved in international farmland deals, to remain less transparent. It is duty bound to inform its citizens what the essentials of the deals it has signed are and to what purpose the monies are or have been utilized so far.

Transparency in practice would avoid the politically harmful suspicions of corruption, allegations of siphoning capital to foreign banks to which the name of the regime in Addis Ababa has often been mentioned. This means that, in addition to authoritarianism and violations of human rights, the land deals are conspiring to obliterate the regime’s image.

If this charge is allowed to continue in a hash-hash manner, as is the case now, it would prove to be an added impediment to the already weak national cohesion and national development in a politically polarized country. Its stigma is no less than the kiss of death. It would stain Ethiopia’s name. As usual in such circumstances, government may turn to suave American and British public relations firms to cleanse the regime’s image. I dare say, it would be to no avail in the face of evolving international campaigns that are gaining momentum.

A commentator on the London Independent article under the title ‘Land Grab”: The Race for the World’s Farmlands’ already wrote a letter that reflects the sentiment in the streets of Brussels, London, Rome and Washington. The writer of the articles says, “The real problem is that the elite in African countries are desperate to take cash from foreigners. They then apply this cash to purchase ‘security and defense equipment.’ And this is turned on the locals, especially locals who have their own ideas on what should be the land policy. This is not new colonialism. It is the elite of Africa (a combination of soldiers, thugs and opportunist politicians) strengthening their own power base.”

Data sources for the report, the pros and cons of the issue in outsiders’ eyes

The purpose of the international report is to highlight both the opportunities and risks involved in international agricultural land deals. Its authors say governments in different countries are their sources of information. They emphasize they have reviewed national inventories of approved and proposed land acquisitions in those countries, conducted interviews with concerned national officials and international experts, including reviewing the relevant literatures on the matter.

Of special significance is that the report has benefited from links with a parallel study led by the World Bank, involving FAO and IIED early on. Overall, the report sheds some light on some information and provides reasonable understanding of the state of such arrangements. While it attempts to make recommendations, especially for the benefit of the host countries, some critics of the report see them as inadequate, ‘wishy-washy’ and dismiss them by virtue of that as being of little value to developing countries.

Critics, amongst them, Uwe Hoering, a German development expert, accuse the report of “emphasises on the macro-economic advantages that the foreign grab of African land could represent, such as higher state revenues, and new chances of development in rural areas. But when it comes down to formulating norms to be applied to guarantee that African national interests are respected, it can only provide weak suggestions which, in addition, (it says) should be voluntarily applied and not too restrictive for the foreign investors.”

The Economist expressed its concerns from two different angles. Whereas it sees the values of “foreign investment in some of the most miserable places on earth” that these farmland leases drive, it worries about the fact that “most of these deals are shrouded in mystery.” It adds, “This is rarely a good sign, especially in countries riddled with corruption… Secrecy makes it impossible to know whether farms are really getting more efficient or whether the deals are done mainly to line politicians’ pockets. Next, most of these deals are government-to-government. This raises awkward questions. Foreign investment helps countries not only by applying new technology but also by reorganising the way people work and by keeping an eye on costs. Few governments do this well, corrupt ones least of all” (May 21st edition).

Case of land lease in Ethiopia

The international report states, “Obtaining geo-referencing for approved and proposed land deals proved difficult in most country studies, though in Ethiopia data obtained by the country team enables plotting investment amounts and land area sizes by region against FAO data on land suitability [see map below]. The map suggests that documented land deals tend to concentrate in regions with more fertile lands and/or closer links to markets. This mapping exercise only gives a broad-brush picture of the spatial distribution of land deals, however.” This FAO map is unpublished; it is reproduced here from the international report.

DOCUMENTED LAND ACQUISITIONS IN ETHIOPIA, 2004-2009

[caption id="attachment_6845" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Sources: country studies; FAO (2009); FAO unpublished "]Sources: country studies; FAO (2009); FAO unpublished [/caption]

In their reviews of national inventories, the authors of the international report have established that since 2004 Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan have approved allocations of 2,492,684 ha of farmlands. For the five countries, this is exclusive of allocations below 1,000 ha. The report contends that its figures may not necessarily be complete, especially in land sizes and the revenues thereon.

So far, there has been limited information in the public arena on the full details of Ethiopia’s land deals with foreign companies or foreign government’s and individuals. What is reported on the foreign media is a German company that has been working for some time now on biofuel project on about 13,000 ha. Another German entrepreneur has been allocated 150,000 ha for livestock project. In addition, land has been leased to Saudi Arabia for report commercial farming of rice, which is augmented recently with palm oil production. Not known also clearly has been the sizes of farms held by Ethiopians in partnership with foreign individuals and companies.

Other than the above, what is public knowledge is on 21 July 2008 Prime Minister Meles had given President Omar Ismail Gulleh of Djibouti 7,000 ha of land to grow wheat. In addition, Mr. Gulleh is a recipient of 10,000 sq. m. of lakeside land 45 km from Addis Ababa to build commercial farming of rice, which is augmented recently with palm oil production. A few years back, the president has already built his villa in Dire Dawa, whose value is estimated $5 million, according to news sources. Of course, what is not disclosed to Ethiopians is what their leaders have received from foreign governments.

The unavailability of information to the public gives the impression that in Ethiopia’s case the genesis of international deals on agricultural lands is August 2008, after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi announced on the Financial Times that Ethiopia was “eager to give Saudi Arabian investors access to hundreds of thousands of ha of farmlands for investment and development.” That impression/or inadequate information has been inaccurate, since we now know from the international report, Ethiopia has been at the forefront of the renting of farmlands to foreign companies and, in some cases, to foreign state enterprises since 2004.

More land allocation made official in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government has recently set up the Agricultural Investment Support outfit to deal with land lease and related issues. The director of that agency on 29 July told Reuter in Addis Ababa of the marking of 1.6 ha of land “for investors willing to develop commercial farms.” Ethiopia is so much after more deals now that it has put into its farmlands offers many attractive goodies.

“Investors who qualify have the opportunity to receive loans from local banks up to 70.0 percent of their capital investment as well as attractive incentives and tax holiday,” according to the director of the newly established office quoted by Reuter. It appears that no lesson has been taken from bank loans to foreign investors in the horticultural sector, some of which vanished without traces, even payment of what they owed to their labourers. They have only left their significant contributions to the already substantially high stock of non-performing loans on the books of Ethiopian banks.

There is an indication by an Ethiopian government official that land selection and allocation is carried out by the regional states. He says that was the case in Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Oromia and the SNNP regions. Not mentioned in the list by the official is Tigray region. However, FAO’s unpublished aerial map shows an allocation of as much as 7,500 ha (see map above).

It is reported that foreign firms that have started operation include a Chinese company aiming to produce sesame seeds, Indian companies engaged in the production of sugar cane, tea and cotton and bio-fuel. In addition to rice, wheat and barley, a Saudi Arabian company has contracted to work on palm oil production. One of the findings of the report is that private companies rather than foreign state-owned entities own the major shares of the approved investments.

Criteria for land allocation in Ethiopia

All land lease projects documented by the national inventory in Ethiopia involve allocations of (or applications for) government leases of diverse durations from 10 to 50 years (e.g. 10, 30 or 50 years). In determining what lands are to be allocated to foreign investors, the seemingly applicable determinants are whether land is “available”, “idle” or “waste” to justify allocation. These concepts feature quite prominently in some of the other countries mentioned in the report as well.

In Ethiopia, for example, all land allocations recorded at the national investment promotion agency are classified as “wastelands”, i.e., no pre-existing users. A critical analysis by the researchers has found that was not the case indeed. At least, some of the lands allocated to investors in the Benishangul Gumuz and Afar regions have been in use previously for shifting cultivation and dry-season grazing, respectively. In this connection, recall that in a July 29 interview with Reuter, the Ethiopian official in charge of the recently formed Agricultural Investment Support claimed, “The regional states set aside virgin land suitable for large-scale commercial farming.” It is not clear how the regional officials give away land that could be needed by the farming/herding population on rotational basis.

In Ethiopia, land rents are split into four deals out of the six projects the report’s research team has examined. Several deals – including the contract from the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State—involve five-year exemptions from land fees, as shown in article 4(a) of the contract. Prices range from $3 to $10 per hectare per year. It is clear to anyone that these fees are low, let alone in the international context but also for domestic commercial farmers. In recognizing that, so far only the rental fees in Oromia have been somewhat raised recently.

As mentioned above, significant levels of tax incentives are given to investors in Ethiopia. For example, profit tax in Ethiopia estimated at $20 per hectare per year is exempt for a period of five years. As a result, for 602,760 ha allocated of the documented projects is estimated to entail tax revenue loss to Ethiopia over five years of $60,276,000.

How reliable are land lease information?

Although government agencies are its primary sources, the international report acknowledges that information on land size deals may vary from the reality on the ground. It speculates that this may be because a share of international land deals is hardly reflected in government statistics. In Ethiopia’s case, for example, enquiries at the state-level Oromia investment promotion agency found evidence of some 22 proposed or actual land deals, of which nine were over 1,000 ha, and were not recorded along with the other 148 in the national investment promotion agency records.

The report is of the view that it is possible to those state-level agencies in other Ethiopian states may also have records of additional projects that some land acquisition deals may not have been recorded at all. Furthermore, the report acknowledges, “Datasets tend to be incomplete, which translates in gaps in its analysis. For example, in Ethiopia information about the land size of many deals proposed or concluded in 2008 is missing.” In addition, an investment by German company Flora EcoPower was reported to involve 13,000 ha (Reuters, 2009), while it is recorded at the Ethiopian investment promotion agency as 3,800 ha only.

Why does Ethiopia need international land lease?

It is this writer’s view that, although the Ethiopian government is unwilling to admit publicly the failure of its agricultural policy, its efforts in trying to attract foreign investors with hefty incentives is clear evidence of that failure. Moreover, already its 2010 budget allocation places agriculture to a third place in terms of priority, sign of its discouragement, or sign of resigning responsibility and relegating food production to foreign companies. This is happening for the first time since the regime assumed power, a further affirmation of its policy failures. In equal measures, what its action dose is arouse serious doubts about the future of agriculture in the country.

Yet, in inviting international investors, the government’s intention on one hand is said to be to improve the country’s food production capacity and on the other to earn more foreign exchange. Ninety-eight percent of the agricultural projects recorded at the Ethiopian Investment Promotion Agency involve food production, compared to only two percent for bio-fuels (though in terms of land area the split is slightly different: 94 percent versus six percent), according to the international report. However, the little told story in Ethiopia is the quiet retreat of domestic investment from agriculture, which is not a good omen for the rural population.

The statement by the director of the Ethiopian Agricultural Investment Support is understandably cautious. In response to the question how much food production by foreign companies would contribute to the domestic economy, his response was, “The contribution to the country’s economy of those companies that began work is yet to be quantified.” One thing that is not clear is also how the government intends to reconcile its expressed interests with its contractual agreements, where it is seen leaning backwards to the breaking point. Most of the contracts do not specify what percentage of production would be slated for export and to the domestic market, not to speak of government’s capacity to benefit in foreign exchange from the farmland lessees’ export revenues.

A different perception

Nevertheless, those that may go along with the government’s actions say they keep an open mind about its deals, despite their acceptance of the enormous future problems that many foresee. For instance, VOX (June 2009), a publisher of research-based analysis, writes, “The agricultural sector in developing countries is in urgent need of capital. Decades of low investment have meant stagnating productivity and production levels. In order to halve the world’s hungry by 2015, as targeted by Millennium Development Goals, FAO calculations show that at least $30 billion of additional funds are required annually…Developing countries’ capacity to fill these gaps is limited and official development assistance is no real alternative… The question is not whether international investments should provide a supplement to other capital inflows, but how their impact can be optimised.”

Unfortunately, VO/X’s sympathy has an obvious blind spot. It ignores the plight of millions of small-scale farmers that are beyond the reach of domestic and foreign capital and technology and cannot compete with international firms with rich backstopping and years of experience. This is more so at a time when those little domestic resources are beginning to ignore them, as shown in the case of Ethiopia’s national budget for 2010. Foreign aid has been known for its lack of sympathy and provision of real investments for agriculture in developing countries.

On the other hand, a comparison of data by the international report between FDI and domestic investment in Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Mali suggests the majority of the investment involves higher shares of FDI. However, what surprised the authors of the report is the extent to which national entrepreneurs and companies are also acquiring land in some of those five African countries, which it says its mention is virtually ignored in the international media reporting.

In Ethiopia, domestic investors account for the large majority of commercial agricultural projects. The sum of their land deals add up to 362,000 ha and an investment of $54 million, compared with 240,000 ha and $24 million for FDI. Given recent developments on the matter, there is no doubt that the data may have already been outdated in both Ethiopia and the other countries where case studies were undertaken. Details not known clearly have also been the sizes of farms held by Ethiopians in partnership with foreign individuals and companies.

Why is the outside world so concerned about international land leases in Africa?

The simple answer could be the fact of it being a new practice in a region whose institutions have terribly failed citizens and many African governmental practices are linked to corruption. Therefore, the various concerns discussed in the international report and in the news media could be summarized as lack of experience by government agencies in land deals, environmental considerations, corruption, the inability of the voiceless to defend their interests and possibility of opening up the host countries to speculator-investors.

The report has found out that the terms and conditions of investment on agricultural lands display a huge diversity among countries and even individual projects. It indicates that its main findings, which are based on a small number of international land deals, include the need to take account of:

    * Land deals must be assessed in the light of the often complex overall package they are part of, including commitments on investment, infrastructure development and employment – the “land grab” emphasized by some media is only part of the equation;

    * Land leases, rather than purchases, are predominant in Africa, and host country governments tend to play a key role in allocating them;

    * Land fees and other monetary transfers are not the main host country benefit, not least due to the difficulty of setting land prices in the absence of well-established formal land markets;

    * Host country benefits are mainly seen in the form of investor commitments on investment levels, employment creation and infrastructure development – though these commitments tend to lack teeth in the overall structure of documented land deals.

The report candidly states, “Although on paper some countries have progressive laws and procedures that seek to increase local voice and benefit, big gaps between theory and practice, between statute books and reality on the ground result in major costs being internalized by local people – but also in difficulties for investor companies. Many countries do not have in place legal or procedural mechanisms to protect local rights and take account of local interests, livelihoods and welfare. Even in the minority of countries where legal requirements for community consultation are in place, processes to negotiate land access with communities remain unsatisfactory. Lack of transparency and of checks and balances in contract negotiations creates a breeding ground for corruption and deals that do not maximize the public interest. Insecure use rights on state-owned land, inaccessible registration procedures, vaguely defined productive use requirements, legislative gaps, and compensation limited to loss of improvements like crops and trees (thus excluding loss of land) all undermine the position of local people.

Virtually all the contracts analyzed by this study tend to be short and simple compared to the economic reality of the transaction. Key issues like strengthening mechanisms to monitor or enforce compliance with investor commitments, maximizing government revenues and clarifying their distribution, promoting business models that maximize local benefit (such as employment creation and infrastructure development), as well as balancing food security concerns in both home and host countries are dealt with by vague provisions if at all.”

Why should Ethiopians be concerned about international land lease agreements?

The terms of farmland deals are hardly made public. Although a theoretical possibility exists in a few cases for some transfer of technology for agricultural development, risk also exists to peasant farmers who cannot compete with well-resourced commercial farms. Take, for instance, the case of barley and oilseeds producers in Ethiopia. China is given an unknown size of farmland to produce oilseeds, sesame especially. Saudi Arabia is also given unquantified land to produce barley and wheat. In the case of China, if our country’s experience to date were of any relevance, they would definitely bring Chinese workers to do the job. This not only would deny the country employment possibilities but also the transfer of experience and technology would be minimal, which otherwise FDI has been credited for.

At the same time, for the last several years China has been Ethiopia’s important destination for sesame export. China uses sesame for chocolates, biscuits, and extraction of oil for both its external and domestic markets. If China were to satisfy its enormous needs for oilseeds and its export revenues through its own production in Ethiopia, the marketing disadvantage would surely be to Ethiopia. There is also the possibility that this may drive prices down on two accounts. First, the major importer, china, may not need its share of Ethiopian exports. Secondly, Chinese possibility of overproduction could drive prices down. On top of that, Ethiopia’s weak export capacities are likely to be depressed during this competition with China. It is obvious that the competition would hurt millions of small-scale farmers in Ethiopia.

For instance, land under oilseeds in 2008 fell to 707 thousand ha from its high of 797 thousand ha, because of price discouragements to small-scale farmers. With it also declined the export volume and foreign exchange earnings, at a time when international prices were much higher than the previous years and more countries were interested in Ethiopian production. Surprisingly, over the years small-scale farmers’ production of sesame has shown consistent but limited productivity growth.

Perhaps, decline in international prices was one of the factors affecting decline of sesame farmland sizes in 2008, compared to 2005/06. Land under sesame by small-scale framers in 2008 was 186 thousand ha, which is 26.3 percent of the total land devoted to oilseeds, down from 211.3 ha in 2005/06, according to the CSA. Therefore, the emergence of a highly competitive partner now in sesame production may end up being another discouragement to million of small-scale farmers.

Strengthening such concerns is also the Chinese business model itself, about which Prof. Desta, Asayeghn has written extensively under the title China’s South-South Cooperative Investments. He says, “Unless corrected, the Sino-African investment is likely to fatten the pockets of state elites and marginalize the African masses. In line with the objectives of the South-South Cooperation, the degree of control must be reversed if there is going to be technological transfers from China to Africa. Also, China has done little to integrate Africa into the global value chains. It is claimed that Chinese-capital investments in Africa are new (Greenfield) rather than takeover investments. Chinese investments in Africa are constrained by not being environmentally friendly. Though an essential part of the technology transfer package, it is worth mentioning that a review of the literature shows that the Sino-African investments, similar to the Euro-African, have failed to handle Africa’s negative environmental externalities.”

What is said about sesame production by China is also true about the future of barley farmers. There has been slight improvement in barley productivity growth. In 2005/06, lands under barley were 998 thousand ha, which picked up in 2006/07 to one million ha. However, by 2007/08, like sesame, it plummeted to 985 thousand ha, an indication of the price factor in 2006/07. In the light of this, any possible prospect for small-scale holder agriculture in Ethiopian may face its worst nightmare. Alternatively, would the competition by foreign commercial farms become a positive force to the millions of small-scale farmers producing cereals, pulses, oilseeds or would they be compelled to shift to producing something else?

The trigger for this article, i.e., the above-mentioned international report, warns, “Decisions taken today will have major repercussions for the livelihoods and food security of many, for decades to come. This means that choices made now must be based on strategic thinking rather than piecemeal and opportunistic negotiations.” In the best interests of her country and her fellow citizens, this writer fully concurs with that assessment and conclusion.
Source: Abugida Info

Comments
The lease fees seems to be very low compared to the price of farmland on the world open market. The locals must also benefit from these deals apart from lease fees.
hugo lambrechts

Ethiopia, the farm commodity, is a cheap sale for foreign farms
By Xan Rice in Bako, Ethiopia Guardian | Posted to the Web January 15, 2010

This is a country of the bent back and the silver sickle, where virtually all the crops have felt the calloused fingers of the peasant farmer working his tiny parcel of state-owned land. The ox pulls the plough and the donkey the cart, and fertiliser counts as agricultural technology.

[Update - Mumbai, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd said on Friday it has signed a pact with government of Ethiopia for cultivation and processing of soybean on lease basis. The company plans to cultivate soybean on 61,775 acres of land over a period of 25 years, it said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The acreage may increase upto 123,550 acres, it stated.]


Chugging into this picture on a bright green John Deere tractor came Hanumantha Rao, a former sugarcane farmer from India who is at the forefront of a revolution sweeping through Ethiopian farming. He hurried up to a hilltop on his company's farm in Bako, four hours' drive from the capital, Addis Ababa, and swept out an arm to indicate the land he has leased from the government: 11,000 hectares to grow rice, maize and oil palms.

In the fields below, boreholes were being sunk and roads graded. An airstrip will soon allow for a crop-spraying plane. Besides the new tractor Rao had been riding on that morning, there were 30 more on site. That was not many, he insisted, and neither was the farm especially large.

Further west in Gambella, Karuturi Global, the listed Indian horticulture company that employs Rao, is bringing in 1,000 new tractors to work the 300,000 hectares it has leased – making it one of the biggest farms in the Horn of Africa, if not the continent. "It is 120 kilometres [75 miles] wide," Rao said proudly. "Three hours to cross by Jeep."

Ethiopia's great land lease project is moved swiftly ahead. In an effort to introduce large-scale commercial farming to the country, the government is offering up vast chunks of fertile farmland to local and foreign investors at almost giveaway rates. By 2013, 3m hectares of idle land is expected to have been allotted – equivalent to more than one fifth of the current land under cultivation in the country.

The move is part of a wider trend that has seen other African and Asian countries seek to take advantage of high global demand and the cost of crops by offering agricultural land to foreign companies, private equity funds and governments, particularly those of import-dependent Gulf countries.

If done properly, the investments have the potential to increase local food availability and create badly needed jobs. If not – as was the case with the attempt by the South Korean firm Daewoo to lease half of Madagascar's arable land to grow corn for export in 2008, a deal many saw as 21st- century colonialism – they could prove disastrous.

In a food-insecure country such as Ethiopia, where several million people rely on food aid, the idea of offering fertile land to outsiders has raised concerns. But government officials point out that Ethiopia has vast reserves of underused land – 60m hectares of the country's 74m hectares suitable for agriculture is not cultivated – and insist no local farmers will be adversely affected. Esayas Kebede, investment support co-ordinator at the agriculture ministry, said that foreign companies were essential for the move from subsistence to commercial farming, a key part of the country's development strategy.

"There is no crop that won't grow in Ethiopia but we cannot produce quantity and quality. Why? It's a vicious cycle of the lack of capital and technology," he said. "So leasing land is a real opportunity for us."

So too for Karuturi. The Bangalore-based company, which is the world's largest grower of roses, has negotiated an extraordinarily good deal with the government. For its farm in Bako, Karuturi is paying no rent for six years and then only 135 birr (£6.50) per hectare per year for the remainder of the 50-year lease. In Gambella, a remote and sparsely populated region close to Sudan, the rent is only 15 birr per hectare (73p).

The company believes the potential for large profits is so great that it plans to invest nearly $1bn in its Ethiopian agricultural operations, according to managing director Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi. Within eight years, he hopes to be producing 3m tonnes of cereals – mostly maize and rice – a year on the Gambella farm, as well as palm oil and sugar. Some of the produce will be sold in Sudan and Kenya – where the company is in talks with the US Agency for International Development to build grain silos at a border town. Like all the foreign land investors in Ethiopia, the company is free to export as much of its produce as it likes, but Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi said most would be sold domestically, where there is a ready market.

"Ethiopia is a food importer and will continue to be for some time. With the high cost of transportation in Africa, it does not make sense for us to try to export beyond the region."

As with land, labour is also extremely cheap. The minimum wage in Ethiopia is about 8 birr (39p) a day. Karuturi, which hopes eventually to employ 20,000 people on its two farms, says it pays 10 birr (49p) a day and provides meals to its workers.

Rao, general manager of the Bako farm, said there was no shortage of locals desperate for jobs. "People here are very poor. They would work for 1 birr, and no one else pays more than 5 birr. So we are paying double."

Outside the farm gates, the feeling about Karuturi among peasant farmers was mixed. The company's 11,000 hectares were fallow before it arrived – the black clay soil is rich in nutrients but difficult to work without a mechanical plough – but some locals had grazed their cattle there and used to cross the farm to the nearest river, which is no longer possible.

Teresa Agassa, a 38-year-old man in gumboots who works a one-hectare plot, said it was good that some local people now had jobs – even if the wage was too small. But he spoke enviously of Karuturi's tractors.

"They're only for the company's benefit. Maybe there can also be benefits for us – but we will only know in the future."
Ethiopia's farming revolution

In the late 1970s Ethiopia's communist regime nationalised all land, and private ownership remains outlawed. The millions of small-scale farmers work under licence from the state, and most plots are one hectare or less, which has hampered efforts to improve food security. But the centralised tenure system has made it easy for the government to offer hundreds of idle farms to investors at cheap rates. A detailed database contains information on soil types, weather patterns, the nearest rivers, and suitable crops. The agriculture ministry is advertising 1.68 million hectares of land in the Benishangul-Gumuz, South Omo and Gambella regions. The greatest interest has come from India and Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Star Agricultural Development, which is growing 10,000 hectares of rice in Gambella. Firms from other Arab countries, and from China, Japan and the US have also expressed strong interest in leasing land.

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Ethiopian ‘virgin land’ for sale
According to the World Bank, as much as three-quarters of Ethiopia’s arable land is not under cultivation, and agronomists say that with substantial capital expenditure, much of it could become bountiful. Since the world food crisis, Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is “very eager” to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as “virgin land.”

Dr. Robert Zeigler, an eminent American botanist, flew to Saudi Arabia in March for a series of high-level discussions about the future of the kingdom’s food supply. Saudi leaders were frightened: heavily dependent on imports, they had seen the price of rice and wheat, their dietary staples, fluctuate violently on the world market over the previous three years, at one point doubling in just a few months. The Saudis, rich in oil money but poor in arable land, were groping for a strategy to ensure that they could continue to meet the appetites of a growing population, and they wanted Zeigler’s expertise.

There are basically two ways to increase the supply of food: find new fields to plant or invent ways to multiply what existing ones yield. Zeigler runs the International Rice Research Institute, which is devoted to the latter course, employing science to expand the size of harvests. During the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s, the institute’s laboratory developed “miracle rice,” a high-yielding strain that has been credited with saving millions of people from famine. Zeigler went to Saudi Arabia hoping that the wealthy kingdom might offer money for the basic research that leads to such technological breakthroughs. Instead, to his surprise, he discovered that the Saudis wanted to attack the problem from the opposite direction. They were looking for land.

In a series of meetings, Saudi government officials, bankers and agribusiness executives told an institute delegation led by Zeigler that they intended to spend billions of dollars to establish plantations to produce rice and other staple crops in African nations like Mali, Senegal, Sudan and Ethiopia. “They laid out this incredible plan,” Zeigler recalled. He was flabbergasted, not only by the scale of the projects but also by the audacity of their setting. Africa, the world’s most famished continent, can’t currently feed itself, let alone foreign markets.

The American scientist was catching a glimpse of an emerging test of the world’s food resources, one that has begun to take shape over the last year, largely outside the bounds of international scrutiny. A variety of factors — some transitory, like the spike in food prices, and others intractable, like global population growth and water scarcity — have created a market for farmland, as rich but resource-deprived nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere seek to outsource their food production to places where fields are cheap and abundant. Because much of the world’s arable land is already in use — almost 90 percent, according to one estimate, if you take out forests and fragile ecosystems — the search has led to the countries least touched by development, in Africa. According to a recent study by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the earth’s last large reserves of underused land is the billion-acre Guinea Savannah zone, a crescent-shaped swath that runs east across Africa all the way to Ethiopia, and southward to Congo and Angola.

Foreign investors — some of them representing governments, some of them private interests — are promising to construct infrastructure, bring new technologies, create jobs and boost the productivity of underused land so that it not only feeds overseas markets but also feeds more Africans. (More than a third of the continent’s population is malnourished.) They’ve found that impoverished governments are often only too welcoming, offering land at giveaway prices. A few transactions have received significant publicity, like Kenya’s deal to lease nearly 100,000 acres to the Qatari government in return for financing a new port, or South Korea’s agreement to develop almost 400 square miles in Tanzania. But many other land deals, of near-unprecedented size, have been sealed with little fanfare.

Investors who are taking part in the land rush say they are confronting a primal fear, a situation in which food is unavailable at any price. Over the 30 years between the mid-1970s and the middle of this decade, grain supplies soared and prices fell by about half, a steady trend that led many experts to believe that there was no limit to humanity’s capacity to feed itself. But in 2006, the situation reversed, in concert with a wider commodities boom. Food prices increased slightly that year, rose by a quarter in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2008. Surplus-producing countries like Argentina and Vietnam, worried about feeding their own populations, placed restrictions on exports. American consumers, if they noticed the food crisis at all, saw it in modestly inflated supermarket bills, especially for meat and dairy products. But to many countries — not just in the Middle East but also import-dependent nations like South Korea and Japan — the specter of hyperinflation and hoarding presented an existential threat.

“When some governments stop exporting rice or wheat, it becomes a real, serious problem for people that don’t have full self-sufficiency,” said Al Arabi Mohammed Hamdi, an economic adviser to the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development. Sitting in his office in Dubai, overlooking the cargo-laden wooden boats moored along the city’s creek, Hamdi told me his view, that the only way to assure food security is to control the means of production.

Hamdi’s agency, which coordinates investments on behalf of 20 member states, has recently announced several projects, including a tentative $250 million joint venture with two private companies, which is slated to receive heavy subsidies from a Saudi program called the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad. He said the main fields of investment for the project would most likely be Sudan and Ethiopia, countries with favorable climates that are situated just across the Red Sea. Hamdi waved a sheaf of memos that had just arrived on his desk, which he said were from another partner, Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a billionaire member of the royal family of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, who has shown interest in acquiring land in Sudan and Eritrea. “There is no problem about money,” Hamdi said. “It’s about where and how.”

A long the dirt road that runs to Lake Ziway, a teardrop in the furrow of Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley, farmers drove their donkey carts past a little orange-domed Orthodox church, and the tombs of their ancestors, decorated with vivid murals of horses and cattle. Between clusters of huts that looked as if they were constructed of matchsticks, there were wide-open wheat fields, where skinny young men were tilling the soil with wooden plows and teams of oxen. And then, nearing the lake, a fence appeared, closing off the countryside behind taut strings of barbed wire.

All through the Rift Valley region, my travel companion, an Ethiopian economist, had taken to pointing out all the new fence posts, standing naked and knobby like freshly cut saplings — mundane signifiers, he said, of the recent rush for Ethiopian land. In the old days, he told me, farmers rarely bothered with such formal lines of demarcation, but now the country’s earth is in demand. This fence, though, was different from the others — it stretched on for a mile or more. Behind it, we could glimpse a vast expanse of dark volcanic soil, recently turned over by tractors. “So,” said my guide, “this belongs to the sheik.”

He meant Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi, a Saudi Arabia-based oil-and-construction billionaire who was born in Ethiopia and maintains a close relationship with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s autocratic regime. (Fear of both men led my guide to say he didn’t want to be identified by name.) Over time, Al Amoudi, one of the world’s 50 richest people, according to Forbes, has used his fortune and political ties to amass control over large portions of Ethiopia’s private sector, including mines, hotels and plantations on which he grows tea, coffee, rubber and japtropha, a plant that has enormous promise as a biofuel. Since the global price spike, he has been getting into the newly lucrative world food trade.

Ethiopia might seem an unlikely hotbed of agricultural investment. To most of the world, the country is defined by images of famine: about a million people died there during the drought of the mid-1980s, and today about four times that many depend on emergency food aid. But according to the World Bank, as much as three-quarters of Ethiopia’s arable land is not under cultivation, and agronomists say that with substantial capital expenditure, much of it could become bountiful. Since the world food crisis, Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is “very eager” to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as “virgin land.” An Ethiopian agriculture ministry official recently told Reuters that he has identified more than seven million acres. The government plans to lease half of it before the next harvest, at the dirt-cheap annual rate of around 50 cents per acre. “We are associated with hunger, although we have enormous investment opportunities,” explained Abi Woldemeskel, director general of the Ethiopian Investment Agency. “So that negative perception has to be changed through promotion.”

The government’s pliant attitude, along with Ethiopia’s convenient location, has made it an ideal target for Middle Eastern investors like Mohammed Al Amoudi. Not long ago, a newly formed Al Amoudi company, Saudi Star Agricultural Development, announced its plans to obtain the rights to more than a million acres — a land mass the size of Delaware — in the apparent hope of capitalizing on the Saudi government’s initiative to subsidize overseas staple-crop production. At a pilot site in the west of the country, he’s already cultivating rice. Earlier this year, amid great fanfare marking the start of the program, Al Amoudi personally presented the first shipment from the farm to King Abdullah in Riyadh. Meanwhile, in the Rift Valley region, another subsidiary is starting to grow fruits and vegetables for export to the Persian Gulf.

Al Amoudi’s plans raise a recurring question surrounding investment in food production: who will reap the benefits? As we drove down to the waterside, through fields dotted with massive sycamores, a farm supervisor told me that the 2,000-acre enterprise currently produces food for the local market, but there were plans to irrigate with water from the lake, and to shift the focus to exports. In the distance, dozens of laborers were bent to the ground, planting corn and onions.

Later, when I asked a couple of workers how much they were paid, they said nine birr each day, or around 75 cents. It wasn’t much, but Al Amoudi’s defenders say that’s the going rate for farm labor in Ethiopia. They argue that his investments are creating jobs, improving the productivity of dormant land and bringing economic development to rural communities. “We have achieved what the government hasn’t done for how many years,” says Arega Worku, an Ethiopian who is an agriculture adviser to Al Amoudi. (Al Amoudi declined to be interviewed.) Ethiopian journalists and opposition figures, however, have questioned the economic benefits of the deals, as well as Al Amoudi’s cozy relationship with the ruling party.

By far the most powerful opposition, however, surrounds the issue of land rights — a problem of historic proportions in Ethiopia. Just down the road from the farm on Lake Ziway, I caught sight of a gray-bearded man wearing a weathered pinstripe blazer, who was crouched over a ditch, washing his shoes. I stopped to ask him about the fence, and before long, a large group of villagers gathered around to tell me a resentful story. Decades ago, they said, during the rule of a Communist dictatorship in Ethiopia, the land was confiscated from them. After that dictatorship was overthrown, Al Amoudi took over the farm in a government privatization deal, over the futile objections of the displaced locals. The billionaire might consider the land his, but the villagers had long memories, and they angrily maintained that they were its rightful owners.

Throughout Africa, the politics of land is linked to the grim reality of hunger. Famines, typically produced by some combination of weather, pestilence and bad governance, break out with merciless randomness, unleashing calamity and reshaping history. Every country has its unique dynamics. Unlike most African nations, Ethiopia was never colonized in the 19th century but instead was ruled by emperors, who granted feudal plantations to members of their royal courts. The last emperor, Haile Selassie, was brought down by a famine that fueled a popular uprising. His dispossessed subjects chanted the slogan “land to the tiller.” The succeeding Communist dictatorship, which took ownership of all land for itself and pursued a disastrous collectivization policy, was toppled in the aftermath of the droughts of the 1980s. Under the present regime, private ownership of land is still banned, and every farmer in Ethiopia, foreign and domestic, works his fields under a licensing arrangement with the government. This land-tenure policy has made it possible for a one-party state to hand over huge tracts to investors at nominal rents, in secrecy, without the bother of a condemnation process.

Ethiopia’s government denies that anyone is being displaced, saying that the land is unused — an assertion many experts doubt. “One thing that is very clear, that seems to have escaped the attention of most investors, is that this is not simply empty land,” says Michael Taylor, a policy specialist at the International Land Coalition. If land in Africa hasn’t been planted, he says, it’s probably for a reason. Maybe it’s used to graze livestock, or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion.

There is an ongoing debate among experts about the extent of the global land-acquisition trend. By its nature the evidence is piecemeal and anecdotal, and many highly publicized investments have yet to actually materialize on the ground. The most serious attempt to quantify the land rush, spearheaded by the International Institute for Environment and Development, suggests that as of earlier this year, the Ethiopian government had approved deals totaling around 1.5 million acres, while the country’s investment agency reports that it has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007, nearly doubling the number registered in the entire previous decade. But that’s far from a complete picture. While the details of a few arrangements have leaked out, like one Saudi consortium’s plans to spend $100 million to grow wheat, barley and rice, many others remain undisclosed, and Addis Ababa has been awash in rumors of Arab moneymen who supposedly rent planes, pick out fertile tracts and cut deals.

Of course, there have been scrambles for African land before. In the view of critics, the colonial legacy is what makes the large land deals so outrageous, and they warn of potentially calamitous consequences. “Wars have been fought over this,” says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with Grain, an advocacy group that opposes large-scale agribusiness and has played a key role in bringing attention to what it calls the “global land grab.”

It wasn’t until Grain compiled a long list of such deals into a polemical report titled “Seized!” last October that experts really began to talk about a serious trend. Although deals were being brokered in disparate locales like Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Vietnam, the most controversial field of investment was clearly Africa. “When you started to get some hints about what was happening in these deals,” Kuyek says, “it was shocking.” Within a month, Grain’s warnings seemed to be vindicated when The Financial Times broke news that the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Logistics had signed an agreement to take over about half of Madagascar’s arable land, paying nothing, with the intention of growing corn and palm oil for export. Popular protests broke out, helping to mobilize opposition to Madagascar’s already unpopular president, who was overthrown in a coup in March.

The episode illustrated the emotional volatility of the land issue and raised questions about the degree to which corrupt leaders might be profiting off the deals. Since then, there has been an international outcry. Legislators from the Philippines have called for an investigation into their government’s agreements with various investing nations, while Thailand’s leader has vowed to chase off any foreign land buyers.

But there’s more than one side to the argument. Development economists and African governments say that if a country like Ethiopia is ever going to feed itself, let alone wean itself from foreign aid, which totaled $2.4 billion in 2007, it will have to find some way of increasing the productivity of its agriculture. “We’ve been complaining for decades about the lack of investment in African agriculture,” says David Hallam, a trade expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Last fall, Paul Collier of Oxford University, an influential voice on issues of world poverty, published a provocative article in Foreign Affairs in which he argued that a “middle- and upper-class love affair with peasant agriculture” has clouded the African development debate with “romanticism.” Approvingly citing the example of Brazil — where masses of indigenous landholders were displaced in favor of large-scale farms — Collier concluded that “to ignore commercial agriculture as a force for rural development and enhanced food supply is surely ideological.”

In Ethiopia, Mohammed Al Amoudi and other foreign agricultural investors are putting Collier’s theory into practice. Near the southern town of Awassa, in a shadow of a soaring Rift Valley escarpment, sits a field of waving corn and a complex of domed greenhouses, looking pristine and alien against the natural backdrop. On an overcast July morning, dozens of laborers were at work preparing the ground for one of Al Amoudi’s latest enterprises: a commercial vegetable farm.

“For a grower, this is heaven on earth,” says Jan Prins, managing director of the subsidiary company that is running the venture for Al Amoudi. Originally from the Netherlands, Prins says he assumed that Ethiopia was arid but was surprised to learn when he came to the country that much of it was fertile, with diverse microclimates. The Awassa farm is one of four that Prins is getting up and running. Using computerized irrigation systems, the farms will grow tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, melons and other fresh produce, the vast majority of it to be shipped to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Over time, he says, he hopes to expand into growing other crops, like wheat and barley, the latter of which can be used to feed camels.

The nations of the Persian Gulf are likely to see their populations increase by half by 2030, and already import 60 percent of their food. Self-sufficiency isn’t a viable option, as the Saudis have learned through bitter experience. In the 1970s, worries about the stability of the global food supply inspired the Saudi government to grow wheat through intensive irrigation. Between 1980 and 1999, according to a study by Elie Elhadj, a banker and historian, the Saudis pumped 300 billion cubic meters of water into their desert. By the early 1990s, the kingdom had managed to become the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter. But then its leaders started paying attention to the warnings of environmentalists, who pointed out that irrigation was draining a nonreplenishable supply of underground freshwater. Saudi Arabia now plans to phase out wheat production by 2016, which is one reason it’s looking to other countries to fill its food needs.

“The rules of the game have changed,” says Saad Al Swatt, the chief executive of the Tabuk Agricultural Development Company, one of the kingdom’s largest farming concerns. Al Swatt’s company was one of those that met with Robert Zeigler about farming rice; he says that with government encouragement, he is looking at expanding into countries like Sudan, Ethiopia and Vietnam. “They have the land, they have the water, but unfortunately, they don’t have the system or sometimes the finance to have these large-scale agricultural projects.” Al Swatt says. “We wanted to export our experience and really develop those areas, to help people.”

About 10 percent of the more than 80 million people who live in Ethiopia suffer from chronic food shortages. This year, because of poor rains, the U.N. World Food Program warns that much of East Africa faces the threat of a famine, potentially the worst in almost two decades. Traditionally, the model for feeding the hungry in Africa has involved shipping in surpluses from the rest of the world in times of emergency, but governments that are trying to attract investment say that the new farms could provide a lasting, noncharitable solution. (“It’s better than begging,” one Ethiopian official recently told the African publication Business Daily.) Whatever the long-term justification, however, it looks bad politically for countries like Kenya and Ethiopia to be letting foreign investors use their land at a time when their people face the specter of mass starvation. And many experts wonder whether such governments will go through with the deals. Ethiopia, after all, was one of the countries that banned grain exports during the recent spike in world food prices. “The idea that one country would go to another country,” says Robert Zeigler, “and lease some land, and expect that the rice produced there would be made available to them if there’s a food crisis in that host country, is ludicrous.”

The hyperinflationary spiral that caused the world food crisis had multiple causes. The harvests in 2006 and 2007 were the worst of the decade, hedge funds and other players in the commodities markets appear to have driven up prices and government subsidies for biofuels encouraged farmers to grow crops that ended up as ethanol. But the environment and demography are more lasting issues, and experts predict that prices, which have declined since their peak, are likely to stabilize significantly above precrisis levels. This represents a danger to the developing world, where the poor spend between 50 and 80 percent of their income on food, but it may also present an opportunity. If one good thing has emerged from the crisis, it’s a growing awareness of Africa’s unrealized agricultural potential. Because where there are appetites, there are profits to be made.

In late June, several hundred farmers and investment bankers came together in Manhattan to survey the landscape at a conference on global agriculture investment. The food crisis has served as a catalyst for the sleepy agricultural sector, spurring financial firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas agricultural projects, so the mood was heady for business, though depressing for humanity. There much talk of Thomas Malthus, the 19th-century prophet of overpopulation and famine.

“Beware of 2020 and beyond, because we think there could be genuine food shortages by that period,” Susan Payne, the chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, told the audience during a talk on Africa’s agricultural potential. She showed a series of slides citing chilling statistics: grain stocks are at their lowest levels in 60 years; there were food riots in 15 countries in 2008; global warming is turning arable land into desert; freshwater is dwindling and China is draining its reserves; and the really big problem that contributes to all the others — the world’s population is growing by 80 million hungry people a year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in order to feed the world’s projected population in 2050 — some nine billion people — agricultural production needs to increase by an annual average of 1 percent. That means adding around 23 million tons of cereals to the world’s food supply next year, a little less than the total production of Australia in 2008.

“Africa is the final frontier,” Payne told me after the conference. “It’s the one continent that remains relatively unexploited.” Emergent’s African Agricultural Land Fund, started last year, is investing several hundred million dollars into commercial farms around the continent. Africa may be known for decrepit infrastructure and corrupt governments — problems that are being steadily alleviated, Payne argues — but land and labor come so cheaply there that she calculates the risks are worthwhile.

The payoffs could be immense. In a country like Ethiopia, farmers put in backbreaking effort, but they yield about a third as much wheat per acre as do Europe, China or Chile. Even modest interventions could start to close this gap. One small example: the black soil I saw throughout the Great Rift region. Known as vertisol, it’s a product of volcanic activity and possesses the nutrients to produce enormous harvests. Because of its high clay content, however, it becomes sticky and waterlogged during the rainy season, which makes it very difficult to plow by traditional methods. With the addition of advanced implements, improved seeds and fertilizer, you can double the amount of wheat it yields. Ethiopia, like all of Africa, is full of such opportunities, which is one reason the World Bank says that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways to speed economic development on the continent.

Yet agriculture has historically been a tiny item in foreign-aid budgets. For years, governments, private foundations and donor institutions like the World Bank have been urging African governments to fill the spending gap with private investment. Now, at the very moment a world food crisis has come along, creating the perhaps fleeting possibility of an influx of capital into African agriculture, some of the same organizations are sending conflicting messages. The Food and Agriculture Organization, for instance, co-sponsored a report calling for a major expansion of commercial agriculture in Africa, but the organization’s director-general has simultaneously been warning of the “neocolonial” dangers of land deals. “We’re making them feel that it’s sinful,” says Mafa Chipeta, a Malawian who oversees Ethiopia and the rest of eastern Africa for the organization. “Why are we not saying, here is an opportunity?”

One focus of agricultural investment in Ethiopia is the region of Gambella, near the border with Sudan. The World Bank says it has more than four million acres of irrigable land. “It’s emerald green, the whole place is fertile and they have only 200,000 people down there,” says Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, head of an Indian commercial farming company. Earlier this year, Karuturi signed an agreement with the government to lease close to 800,000 acres on which he will grow rice, wheat and sugar cane, among other crops. Karuturi told me he doesn’t have to export the food to make money; there’s plenty of profit potential in the East African market. He has flown in John Deere tractors, agricultural experts from Texas A&M and commercial farmers from Mississippi to help him get things going. He says he’s raising $100 million in capital from private equity firms for the first phase of the project, which he estimates will ultimately cost well over a billion dollars. “Recently, I saw a lot of articles . . . where they referred to me as a food pirate,” Karuturi says. “This whole thing is so elitist, it’s ridiculous. They want Africa to remain poor.”

But the argument against enormous land concessions needn’t be based solely on appeals to human rights, environmental warnings or romanticism. It’s possible to be a believer in development without endorsing Paul Collier’s view that the small landholders stand in its way. In fact, there’s a whole school of economic thought that says that Collier is wrong, that big is not necessarily better in agriculture — and that the land deals therefore might be unwise not because they’re wrong but because they’re unprofitable. A recent World Bank study found that large-scale export agriculture in Africa has succeeded only with plantation crops like sugar and tea or in ventures that were propped up by extreme government subsidies, during colonialism or during the apartheid era in South Africa.

This record of failure is one reason that the government of Qatar, in addressing its food-security concerns, has chosen to concentrate on investing in existing agribusinesses rather than just acquiring land. That’s just one of many ways to invest in farming without removing the African farmers. On a bright Rift Valley afternoon, I went to see another option, a cooperative scheme under which a group of around 300 Ethiopians, working plots of 4 to 10 acres, were getting into export agriculture. During the European winter, they grew green beans for the Dutch market. The rest of the year, they cultivated corn and other crops for local consumption. The land had been irrigated with the help of a nonprofit organization and an Ethiopian commercial farmer named Tsegaye Abebe, who brought all the produce to market.

As a breeze riffled through a tall field of corn, a group of farmers, wearing sandals made from old tires, told me the arrangement, while not perfect, was beneficial in the most crucial respect: they weren’t toiling for someone else. Not far away, a Pakistani investor had taken over a government cattle ranch, once an area free for grazing, and had put fences and trenches in place to keep out the local livestock. The Ethiopians who worked there were miserable.

The farmers had heard rumors that foreign investors were eyeing still more Ethiopian land. Imam Gemedo Tilago, a 78-year-old cloaked in a white cotton shawl, shook his finger, vowing that Allah would not allow the community to remain passive. But that was a problem for the future, and the farmers had more grounded concerns. I noticed, driving down the rural paths that led to this farm, that the earth looked parched in places, and the cattle were showing their ribs through their dull brown hides. The worried farmers told me that this year, the seasonal rains were late in coming to the Rift Valley. If they didn’t arrive soon, there’d be hunger.

(The above article is written by Andrew Rice, a contributing writer and the author of “The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget,” about a Ugandan murder trial.)
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3 Responses to “Ethiopian ‘virgin land’ for sale”

   1. Addisu A. says:

      Such a nice article! It is amazing the extent to which the author paid attention to the small details. And it is evident that he tried to make a fair and justified argument. Unfortunately, he failed to arrive at any clear conclusion even though he was the most informed one to do so. Thus, I take it upon myself to make such a conclusion.

      Let me start with my conclusion. Despite its claimed disadvantages, commercial farming will contribute positively to the future of poor countries like Ethiopia, even if (some of) it might be done by foreign investors.

      The first obvious demerit of commercial agriculture is environmental loss. With the start of commercial farms like Karuturi’s and Al Amoudi’s in Gambella, for example, Ethiopia will lose its only remaining natural forests. But it is obvious that doing nothing would not save the forests either. Much of central and northern Ethiopia, which used to be densely forested a few decades ago, is completely barren now because of the increasing population pressure. There is no question that poverty is the worst enemy of the environment. If it could improve productivity and create jobs, commercial farming will perhaps improve even the fate of the environment. For that matter all countries that are rich today at some point exploited their natural resources intensively before succeeding to replenish them eventually.

      Another disadvantage of commercial farming is loss of independent livelihood for some farmers. When their grazing land is taken over by commercial farms or when they cannot freely farm any open land they find anymore, some farmers will eventually be forced to be laborers to commercial investors. But then again, what would be the other alternative? Collectivization is evidently more efficient (especially if you want to export), but household-led farming, in spite of all its disputed efficiency, has failed to lead to any meaningful economic change. Taking the example of Ethiopia again, almost all Ethiopian farmers till the land the way their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Given the current population growth, the future of this country in terms of food availability is definitely bleak without an increase in agricultural productivity. Loss of individual livelihood can thus be considered a little price to pay for the greater good of making sure that there is enough food supply. It should not be forgotten that, almost always, early years of economic transformation are very painful. Many people today don’t remember the widespread dissatisfaction and mass revolt that persisted throughout Europe when the continent was in rapid changes in the early 20th century. This eventually led to the emergence of communist governments in some countries and strongly welfare-oriented governance in others. My point is that change will unavoidably create discontent and inequality which should not be shunned but managed accordingly.

      The third and perhaps the toughest challenge for countries like Ethiopia to give away land for foreign investment is the future population pressure. It is very easy to foresee that, given the current population explosion, food demand would skyrocket in 20 or 30 years. Population control is of very urgent need in much of Africa, but that is a different story. Even so, commercializing agriculture remains the only viable option to satisfy the increasing food demand. By increasing domestic production, commercialization can avert the import of food aid outside the country. By increasing productivity, it also enables to feeding more people with the existing resources. Obviously, the fact that most owners of the commercial farms are foreigners adds more complexity to this. But it should be noted that the coming of foreign commercial farms initiates the domestic industry too (see the floriculture industry in Ethiopia as an example). It can be argued that in the long run at least half of the commercial farms will be domestic. On the other hand, even the export-oriented foreign farms will be beneficial to the country because they generate hard-sought foreign currency. If we don’t become too preoccupied in the issue of food, future population growth will also create huge demand for imported commodities such as oil and other consumer products. Without developing their domestic production capacity by exploiting their resources of comparative advantage, countries like Ethiopia will not be able to generate the foreign currency they will need to satisfy their large future demand for imports.

      November 21st, 2009 at 11:32 AM
   2. DUBE KESEMAY says:

      Sell the rest of Ethiopia and invest in Tigre-land. For sure the money is going to develop Tigre-land. So far 2 universities, many factories, an expensive Hydro power plant, of which the cost would have built 2 in other places, roads, irrigation technology…etc…
      Ye-Ethiopia Hizb…”Be-meret ena Be-mist yemeTa…” yemibalewen ababal resahew ende?
      Do we really want to serve the Arabs and the Indians?

      November 23rd, 2009 at 11:59 AM
   3. Florad says:

      DUBE KESEMAY, you have got a funny name. For the rest, you did not read the article at all. So you just said what you have been saying all the time.

      November 29th, 2009 at 8:37 AM

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Posted on Tuesday 13 April 2010 - 17:20
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Ethiopian government has revised its agricultural land lease price, which has been attracting many investors for the past years, reported New Business Ethiopia from Addis ababa.

Government believes that agricultural land in the country was not getting proper value and protection. The directorate has now prepared revised agricultural land lease price and expect that it will soon be approved by the government.

According to the information New Business Ethiopia obtained from Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, the new lease price takes into consideration the distance of the farm to Djibouti port, Port Sudan and central market – Addis Ababa.

According to the Agricultural Investment Support Directorate at the ministry, which has prepared the revised lease price, if the farm is located 700 kms away from Addis Ababa, the investor is expected to pay 111 birr (around 8 USD) / hectare per annum for rain-fed agriculture.

As the area gets nearer to the central market Addis Ababa, the price will increase by 4.05 birr per kilometer and as it goes far from 700 kms from Addis Ababa, the price declines by 4.05 birr per kilometer.

When it comes to irrigation farming the lease price will be 158 birr per hectare per annum and it will increase or decrease per every kilometer by 4.17 birr. According to this draft lease term, this lease price is subject to revision in every 10 year. And the investors lease the land for 25 years for annual crops and 45 years for perennial crops.

The Directorate hopes that the revised price will encourage genuine investors; create competitive balance among investors and regional investment balance.

So far investors are not paying for water and the Ministry of water plans to introduce water fee as the current situation shows that some area residents like Afar have suffered from water shortage because of agricultural investment, especially when investors bring many daily-laborers to their farms from other parts of the country.

So far, the Directorate has identified 2.9 million hectares of land as potential for commercial agriculture all over the country. Out of this, three regions have transferred a total of 1.74 million hectare to the Directorate - 180,625 in Southern Region, 834,199 in Gambella and 724,984 in Benishangul Gumz Region.

Of which it has allotted a total of 59,931 hectares of land to investors - 34,431 in Southern region and 25,431 in Benishangul Gumz.

All commercial agricultures going on in the country including the giant Karuturi and Saudi Star agricultural projects are expected to sign the revised lease price agreement and are expected to be registered and monitored by this centralized Directorate.

The main reason for establishing this directorate by the Ministry is said will make sure that the land is used properly for the desired purpose (mainly generate foreign exchange by producing exportable agricultural products) by the investors.

“The Ministry has realized that previously land is abused by some investors. Some investors were renting the land they rented from government to others, while different regions do not have clear records on the size of land they distributed to investors,” says expert at the ministry, who choose to not to be named.

“In fact, some investors were not providing the necessary facilities such as healthcare for their employees who work on their farms, some investors do not even have transparent bookkeeping and pay taxes to the government properly,” she added.

The revised agricultural land lease price prepared by the directorate is expected to be approved by the government soon.
The directorate is established at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in January 2009 to regulate all investments in agriculture.

Its mandate includes identifying potential land for agriculture in the country, taking this land from all regions and transferring it to investors. It also monitors activities of the investors and provides both technical and administrative support to these investors.

The previous agricultural land lease price varies from one region to another. For instance in Oromia Region if an investor wanted to be engaged in coffee, tea, sugarcane, or any other perennial crops on an area of more than 100 hectares, he/she will get land free of lease for the first 4 years.

Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For Sale
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Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For Sale

Postby revolutions » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:58 am
This is why Indians never protest against their government.

Ethiopia offers India farmland for investment
2 Feb, 2011

NEW DELHI: In what could give a big boost to India's efforts at food security, Ethiopia has offered 1.8 million hectares of its farmland to Indian investors that equals nearly 40 percent of the total area of the principal grain-growing state of Punjab.

"So far we have transferred 307,000 hectares of land to foreign and domestic investors. Some 79 percent of this land has been transferred to Indian companies. This land is made available on a 70-year lease," said visiting Ethiopian Agriculture Minister Tefera Derbew .

"We are now proposing to transfer another 3.6 million hectares of land to investors from overseas. And I am confident that more than half of the 3.6 million hectares land will go to Indians," Derbew, who is here on a three-day official visit, told IANS in an interview.

    Exactly how big is the land Tigray Warlords have put up for sale?
    3.6 million Hectares = 36,000 Square Kilometers
    Belgium has an area of 30,510 sq km
    Image



The land offered by the East African nation, at the horn of the continent, equals nearly 50 percent of the cultivable land of Punjab, often called India's granary, accounting for 23 percent of its wheat and 10 percent of paddy output.

"How much land will actually go to Indian investors depends entirely on the interest of investors. If they come and take all the land, then also we will be very happy. Indian investors are very welcome in Ethiopia," Derbew said.

According to the visiting minister, Indian investors have so far committed $4.7 billion investment in Ethiopia and most of it related to the farm sector. He said the investment
was going to rise sharply in the coming years with interests arising in mining as well.

Indian firms have interests in cotton, palm oil, rubber, oilseeds and horticulture.

Derbew said an Indian company was in the process of getting 100,000 hectares of land for sugarcane production. "India has expertise in sugar. We are in talks with several Indian companies to help develop the sugar industry in our country."

Officials here identified the company as Karuturi Global, one of the largest global players in the organised floriculture industry. The investments planned, they added, could go up to over $100 million for a sugarcane crushing and processing unit in Ethiopia.

The minister said the trade balance, which was hugely skewed towards India , would tilt in Ethiopia's favour once the projects materialise. "Our bilateral trade is over $500 million. But most of it are Indian exports. Our exports are negligible."

He said there was also scope for Ethiopia to export potassic fertiliser to India.

Derbew said his government had also liberalised the norms for allocation of land for all major infrastructure projects, including those for roadways and railways, and was in talks with several Indian companies in this regard.

"We target to build over 2,000 km of rail link in the next five years. Similarly, there is also a huge investment potential for road infrastructure," said Derbew, adding: "We hope Indian companies will take advantage of this opportunity as well."
Last edited by revolutions on Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:09 am
So....
Who is this Hodam named Tefera Derbew slaving for the Tigray Warlords?

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Ato Tefera Derbew is currently Head of The Amhara Regional State Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ethiopia. He has fourteen years of grass root experience in agriculture and rural development. Ato Tefera has Master of Science in Agricultural Economics.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Bashu » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:53 am
Revolution fake Ethiopian,

No matter how much you huff and puff until you turn blue , Ethiopia is not a tiny arid banana republic land like eritrea, we are a nation four times the size of United Kingdom or twice the size of France and Spain combined. Ethiopia can afford to lease 3,000,000 hectares( the size of tiny Belgium) and still utilize the rest 95% which is more than enough to feed it self and it's neighbors. The 3 million hectare land appropriated for lease is ONLY 5% of our total arable land. At present , ethiopia doesn't have the means and the technology to utilize all the arable lands so instead of wasting it, leasing a small portion of it is beneficial to the people in the area and for the over all economy growth of the country.

According to the the wikileaks released last week most experts agree the land lease policy in ethiopia is a step in the right direction.
Chew on this and choke with envy.

    Comment Wikileaks---

    ¶6. (SBU) The GoE clearly needed to shift its agricultural policy in
    order to make effective use of its vast amounts of fertile land, and
    the agricultural policy mix being implemented is viewed by most
    experts as a step in the right direction.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:13 pm

    Bashu wrote:Revolution fake Ethiopian,

    No matter how much you huff and puff until you turn blue , Ethiopia is not a tiny arid banana republic land like eritrea, we are a nation four times the size of United Kingdom or twice the size of France and Spain combined. Ethiopia can afford to lease 3,000,000 hectares( the size of tiny Belgium) and still utilize the rest 95% which is more than enough to feed it self and it's neighbors. The 3 million hectare land appropriated for lease is ONLY 5% of our total arable land. At present , ethiopia doesn't have the means and the technology to utilize all the arable lands so instead of wasting it, leasing a small portion of it is beneficial to the people in the area and for the over all economy growth of the country.

    According to the the wikileaks released last week most experts agree the land lease policy in ethiopia is a step in the right direction.
    Chew on this and choke with envy.



Bashu, my savage Tigraway brother,
Your "we can afford to sell Ethiopia" vacuous rhetoric conform to remarks made by your Woyane warlords in response to BBC's report that "123,000 Ethiopian soldiers were killed in action"; and consequently your Tigray warlords said, "we can afford to lose that many soldiers", knowing that the overwhelming majority victims of their primitive human-wave military tactic were poor Amhara and Oromo conscripts. It was only after losing 50,000 Tegaru soldiers during the third and final offensive that your woyane warlords said they could no longer afford to peruse their "Abay Tigray" agenda and signed the Algiers agreement to commemorate their humiliating defeat.

The independence of your "Abay Tigray republic" never came, nor has Tigray in any sense a fully developed region or a realization of any ideal our gallant TPLF fighters ever stood for and died for. You are now a slave selling Ethiopia for a $1. Yeah, that's what you are. A sacrilegious filthy slave ! You can't even walk around Addis Ababa without looking over your shoulder. You're a coward slave living on borrowed time!

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Reviewer » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:19 pm

    You can't even walk around Addis Ababa without looking over your shoulder.


Co-sign. This is so true and sad at the same time.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Tirunesh » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:27 pm
Bashu,
The question is why the A!gamew puppet, don't lease the usless dry land tigray instead of the fertile land Gambella?

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Bashu » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:48 pm

    Tirunesh wrote:Bashu,
    The question is why the A!gamew puppet, don't lease the usless dry land tigray instead of the fertile land Gambella?



Revolution the fake ethiopian, why don't you try to answer the question with one of your 15 usernames you have on ER, you only used 3 of them on this thread so far, you can use siren66, Gureza, amantu, Meron, Qindibu, democrat, Mesfin, Hoya Hoye, kebede( ooops you can't use kebede is banned for a while). The sad thing is most of the ER forumers have no clue they are dealing with a psycopath who has no life except spending 24/7 talking crap about Ethiopia. What a waste!

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Semira » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:56 pm
Bashu ye-wefcho-bet-beg,

you are defending the indefensible. :) :)

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Aba-Dula » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:10 pm
Bashu ignores the fact that this land is sold for 100 years. The investors have the discretion to plant anything they want. Egypt wanted to keep Ethiopian farmers busy by planting tobacco, in Ethiopia tobacco is exported in tons while aid-grains are imported by tons. Does Ato Tefera Derbew understands this fact? Or that is considered a wise and acceptable trade off?

Just because we have another 10 million hectares of fertile farm suitable land does not mean we have to rent them as low as $1 dollar per hectare. Instead of sending the billions of dollars Woyane stashes into off shore accounts, may be they can use that money to give the 70% unemployed Ethiopians the chance to work and earn their living rather than import drugs and change our respectable culture.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby girmay » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:28 pm
To me it is quite simple. While so many (wrongly) associate Ethiopia with famine around the world, it makes no sense to be giving away land at such low price to foreigners. It is downright disgraceful and embarassing.

If it is true that Ethiopia has such huge surplus land while at the same time there is a need for food aid, then the government's primary task is to put this land into cultivation as soon as possible so that the population is food secure. After that the priority can become value add food processing, food for export, non-food crops etc. Ethiopians may not have the skill (yet) for advanced technologies but farming has been practiced for thousands of years.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:51 pm
Why Sell Ethiopia ?
Image
A new tractor costs about $50,000.
Woyanes receive $3 billion dollars in US-aid every year.
How many tractors can you buy with one billion dollars ?
20,000 new tractors
How many can you buy with $3 billion dollars?
60,000 new tractors.

Idiots !

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby YEBANDAMERZE » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:57 pm
revolution the worthless shabia pig,

why do you spend many sleepless nights worrying about Ethiopia?Do you do the same thing with Nigeria?

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby abel qael » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:52 pm
As usual Ansebas such as the psychotic revolution are the number one opponents of the land lease in ethiopia, and you know why, because they know it is a big boon towards 8) Ethiopia's already unstoppably booming economy 8) . The cursed & greeneyed Ansebas envy Ethiopians, specially Tigrawot , and that is what is making them obssesed about anything weyane does or does not do.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby YeSat-Nebelbal » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:02 pm
Revolution the smartest participant, there is something you do not understand, Woyanne sold the economic and foreign policy of the country to International Monetary Fund & World Bank long time ago. It is not that Meles does not know such simple arthemetics, after all we have been told he was amongst the top 1% when he took long distance course from London UK. The problem is they just do not have a say on Ethiopia's economy. IMF & WB decide what Woyanne should and should not do as far as making economic policy, you remeber what they said about Dollar/Birr exchange rate. Meles Zenawi only obeys what he is told to do, and he imposes it on the "government," we all remember what he told the opposition economic policy critic when asked to prove the growth, he told the man to shut his mouth up or he will shut it for him, something to that effect. The opposition critic was so terrified he chose to shut it himself instead. Ever since that day, the critic never criticized Meles on policy.

    revolutions wrote:Why Sell Ethiopia ?
    Image
    A new tractor costs about $50,000.
    Woyanes receive $3 billion dollars in US-aid every year.
    How many tractors can you buy with one billion dollars ?
    20,000 new tractors
    How many can you buy with $3 billion dollars?
    60,000 new tractors.

    Idiots !

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:28 am
.
Yesat-Neblebal,

It makes a perfect sense what you said. The IMF is running the show in Ethiopia and Meles Zenawi is nothing but a monkey in a suit. A while back, during the Starbucks coffee scandal, I remember reading comments made by an Ethiopian economist in exile, in which he said, "for every $1 in Aid that goes into Ethiopia, at least $1000 comes out in natural resources." To support his assertions he pointed out to the 0.23 cents Ethiopian coffee farmers earn for each kilo of coffee beans they produce that is later roasted, brewed and sold at Starbucks coffee shops for a whopping $230 ! And to add insult to an injury, most of the coffee farmers are heavily dependent on food handouts from the "charitable" west for their survival.

The latest IMF victims are Ethiopian farmers that produce grains. Incidentally, the head of IMF's office in Addis Ababa is an Indian and the Karuturi global company devouring Ethiopian arable land with fervor is also owned by Indians. Although the company claims to grow rice, wheat and sugar on the stolen lands in Ethiopia, listening to Indian stock market analysts it becomes clear that its long term goal is to turn the agricultural lands into a lucrative biofuel powerhouse. And this is why Indian billionaires are investing their money in the Karuturi global.

As seen in Mexico and many other third world countries that fell victims to IMF's structural adjustment policies, forcing farmers to hand over their agricultural lands to foreign companies for biofuel production, resulting in the elimination of the countries' staple crops such as Maize and Rice, so will Ethiopians see the eradication of their staple crop Teff in the near future when Karuturi global turn the Teff producing regions into biofuel farms. In essence, Indians are taking Ethiopian peoples’ food from their mouth and put it into the richer people’s cars in the west. And then what? Ethiopians will be forced to import Teff from Eritrea? If this doesn't scare you I don't know what will.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Gurezza » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:54 am
Luti A!games, are pimping Ethiopia in every corner. A!games can not be a leader, but a pimps.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:53 am
Check this out. Agricultural experts called the inferior Tigraway Bashu a willing slave that eats crumbs that falls off his Indian masters' dinner table.

    The new African land grab

    THIS NEW scramble for African land has visited a multitude of problems on ordinary Africans and set the stage for ecological crisis and widespread hunger.

    As many critics have pointed out, African governments have falsely claimed that land available for sale is unused. As journalist Joan Baxter writes:

    Some defend the investors' acquisition of land in their countries, saying it is "virgin" or "under-utilized" or "uncultivated" or "degraded" land... This suggests they know precious little about the importance of fallows and the resilience and diversity of agroforestry systems, or about sustainable agriculture and the knowledge base of their own farmers.

    Communal land, small farmers and even entire villages are often displaced in the drive for land purchases. The Oakland Institute think-tank released a report on the African land grab, which points out:

    Experts in the field, however, affirm that there is no such thing as idle land in...Africa...Countless studies have shown that competition for grazing land and access to water bodies are the two most important sources of inter-communal conflict in [areas] populated by pastoralists.

    According to Michael Taylor, a policy specialist at the International Land Coalition, "If land in Africa hasn't been planted, it's probably for a reason. Maybe it's used to graze livestock or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion. Anybody who has seen these areas identified as unused understands that there is no land...that has no owners and users."

    In other words, as activist Vandana Shiva puts it, "We are seeing dispossession on a massive scale. It means less food is available and local people will have less. There will be more conflict and political instability and cultures will be uprooted. The small farmers of Africa are the basis of food security. The food availability of the planet will decline."

    In fact, because much of its food is produced for export, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where per capita food production has been declining, with the number of people that are chronically hungry and undernourished currently estimated at more than 265 million.

    Nations with large amounts of land sold or leased to foreign owners are often food importers, and their inability to feed their own populations is exacerbated by the displacement of food producers who grow for local use. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that Africa has lost 20 percent of its capacity to feed itself over the past four decades. Ethiopia alone has 13 million people in immediate need of food assistance, yet its government has put over 7 million acres of land up for sale.

    And worsening hunger is still to come. This year's World Food Program (WFP) budget of $2.6 billion for sub-Saharan Africa falls short of meeting the targeted need by $1.1 billion. According to the IFPRI, climate change will sharpen food scarcities in semi-arid countries such as Sudan.

    Large-scale land acquisition poses massive ecological threats to the African environment. The dangers are numerous: hazardous pesticides and fertilizers cause water contamination from their runoff, the introduction of genetically modified seeds and other problems. Land previously left to lie fallow is now threatened with overuse from intensified agricultural development, a trend further exacerbated by speculative investment and the drive for short-term profits.

    Yet deals transferring vast tracts of land are typically taking place far removed from local farmers and villagers with virtually no accountability. As Khadija Sharife writes on the Pambazuka Web site:

    The deals involving these concessions are often cloaked in secrecy, but African Business has learned that they are usually characterized by allowing free access to water, repatriation of profits, tax exemptions and the ability for investors to acquire land at no cost whatsoever, with little or no restriction on the volume of food exported or its intended use, in return for a loose promise to develop infrastructure and markets...

    [L]eaders, and provincial and national governments have been all too willing to sell land already inhabited by citizens lacking land titles--often the product of communal customs--with the best land and water resources going free of charge to multinationals.

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby revolutions » Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:17 pm
Burning Spears Crying For Ethiopian Farmers......

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby Ras Tigray » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:41 pm


kebede, the disgusting eritrean,

300,000 hectares * $ 1 * 20 birr *12months = 72,000,000 birr

where as the fertile soil occupied by more than 160,000 eritrean refugees is costing us 96,000,000 dollars every year. now which deal does turn your eyes so green that you can't even do this simple calculation. Leasing to india or to your refugees for free displacing thousands of farmers ?

4 camps which could have been leased to India : 20,000hectares*4*$1*20 birr*12months = 96,000,000 Birr lost annually.

























besides why don't you tell us how the 60,000 donated sick sheeps investment is working against the Akat farming ?

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Re: Tigray Warlords Put 3.6 Million Hectares Ethio Land For

Postby YeSat-Nebelbal » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:26 pm
I hope Woyannes watch and learn from the Eritreans how best to develop our fertile lands. Woyanne has the money to develop and return the developed land back to the locals. If Woyanne do not want to do it, perhaps its time for them to step aside and let's do it for them. IMF will not want Ethiopians to get out economic troubles, the longer Ethiopia remains hostage of our bellies the more we need IMF and World Bank. The more we are forced to believe that we need them the more they exploit our fear (dependency) for more economic advantages. We know that IMF likes countries that listen to their suggestions as to what to do for economic growth. Usually, IMF likes to force poor regimes not only open their pockets, including pockets woven in the inside of the underwear but also their soul. Once they have access to those pockets they decide which one to open and check for money or which one leave.

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Agriculture in Ethiopia
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This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

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Agriculture in Ethiopia is the foundation of the country's economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP), 83.9% of exports, and 80% of total employment.

Ethiopia's agriculture is plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by overgrazing, deforestation, high population density[citation needed], high levels of taxation and poor infrastructure (making it difficult and expensive to get goods to market). Yet agriculture is the country's most promising resource. A potential exists for self-sufficiency in grains and for export development in livestock, grains, vegetables, and fruits. As many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually.

Agriculture accounts for 46.3% of the GDP, 83.9% of exports, and 80% of the labour force.[1] Many other economic activities depend on agriculture, including marketing, processing, and export of agricultural products. Production is overwhelmingly of a subsistence nature, and a large part of commodity exports are provided by the small agricultural cash-crop sector. Principal crops include coffee, pulses (e.g., beans), oilseeds, cereals, potatoes, sugarcane, and vegetables. Exports are almost entirely agricultural commodities, and coffee is the largest foreign exchange earner. Ethiopia is Africa's second biggest maize producer.[2] Ethiopia's livestock population is believed to be the largest in Africa, and in 2006/2007 livestock accounted for 10.6% of Ethiopia's export income, with leather and leather products making up 7.5% and live animals 3.1%.
Contents
[hide]

    * 1 Overview
    * 2 Land use
    * 3 Land reform
    * 4 Agricultural production
          o 4.1 Major cash crops
          o 4.2 Major staple crops
          o 4.3 Livestock
    * 5 Government marketing operations
    * 6 References
    * 7 See also

[edit] Overview

Agriculture accounted for 46.3% of GDP, 83.9% of exports, and 80% of the labor force in 2006/2007, compared to 44.9%, 76.9% and 80% in 2002/2003, and agriculture remains the Ethiopian economy's most important sector.[3] Ethiopia has great agricultural potential because of its vast areas of fertile land, diverse climate, generally adequate rainfall, and large labor pool. Despite this potential, however, Ethiopian agriculture has remained underdeveloped. Because of drought, which has repeatedly affected the country since the early 1970s, a poor economic base (low productivity, weak infrastructure, and low level of technology), and overpopulation, the agricultural sector has performed poorly. For instance, according to the World Bank between 1980 and 1987 agricultural production dropped at an annual rate of 2.1 percent, while the population grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent. Consequently, the country faced a tragic famine that resulted in the death of nearly 1 million people from 1984 to 1986.[4]

During the imperial period, the development of the agricultural sector was retarded by a number of factors, including tenancy and land reform problems, the government's neglect of the agricultural sector (agriculture received less than 2 percent of budget allocations even though the vast majority of the population depended on agriculture), low productivity, and lack of technological development. Moreover, the emperor's inability to implement meaningful land reform perpetuated a system in which aristocrats and the church owned most of the farmland and in which most farmers were tenants who had to provide as much as 50% of their crops as rent. To make matters worse, during the 1972-74 drought and famine the imperial government refused to assist rural Ethiopians and tried to cover up the crisis by refusing international aid. As a result, up to 200,000 Ethiopians perished.[4]

Although the issue of land reform was not addressed until the Ethiopian Revolution in 1974, the government had tried to introduce programs to improve the condition of farmers. In 1971 the Ministry of Agriculture introduced the Minimum Package Program (MPP) to bring about economic and social changes. The MPP included credit for the purchase of items such as fertilizers, improved seeds, and pesticides; innovative extension services; the establishment of cooperatives; and the provision of infrastructure, mainly water supply and all-weather roads. The program, designed for rural development, was first introduced in a project called the Chilalo Agricultural Development Union. The program later facilitated the establishment of similar internationally supported and financed projects at Ada'a Chukala (just south of Addis Ababa), Welamo, and Humera. By 1974 the Ministry of Agriculture's Extension and Project Implementation Department had more than twenty-eight areas with more than 200 extension and marketing centers. Although the MPPs improved the agricultural productivity of farmers, particularly in the project areas, there were many problems associated with discrimination against small farmers (because of a restrictive credit system that favored big landowners) and tenant eviction.[4]

Imperial government policy permitting investors to import fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and combines, and (until 1973) fuel free of import duties encouraged the rapid expansion of large-scale commercial farming. As a result, agriculture continued to grow, albeit below the population growth rate. According to the World Bank, agricultural production increased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent between 1965 and 1973, while population increased at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent during the same period.[4]

Agricultural productivity under the Derg continued to decline. According to the World Bank, agricultural production increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent between 1973 and 1980 but then decreased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent between 1980 and 1987. During the same period (1973–87), population increased at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent (2.4 percent for 1980-87). The poor performance of agriculture was related to several factors, including drought; a government policy of controlling prices and the free movement of agricultural products from surplus to deficit areas; the unstable political climate; the dislocation of the rural community caused by resettlement, villagization, and conscription of young farmers to meet military obligations; land tenure difficulties and the problem of land fragmentation; the lack of resources such as farm equipment, better seeds, and fertilizers; and the overall low level of technology.[4]

President Mengistu's 1990 decision to allow free movement of goods, to lift price controls, and to provide farmers with security of tenure was designed to reverse the decline in Ethiopia's agricultural sector. There was much debate as to whether or not these reforms were genuine and how effectively they could be implemented. Nonetheless, agricultural output rose by an estimated 3 percent in 1990-91, almost certainly in response to the relaxation of government regulation. This modest increase, however, was not enough to offset a general decrease in GDP during the same period.[4]
[edit] Land use

Of Ethiopia's total land area of 1,221,480 square kilometers, the government estimated in the late 1980s that 15 percent was under cultivation and 51 percent was pasture. It was also estimated that over 60 percent of the cultivated area was cropland. Forestland, most of it in the southwestern part of the country, accounted for 4 percent of the total land area, according to the government. These figures varied from those provided by the World Bank, which estimated that cropland, pasture, and forestland accounted for 13%, 41%, and 25%, respectively, of the total land area in 1987.[4]

Inaccessibility, water shortages, and infestations of disease-causing insects, mainly mosquitoes, prevented the use of large parcels of potentially productive land. In Ethiopia's lowlands, for example, the presence of malaria kept farmers from settling in many areas.[4]

Most agricultural producers are subsistence farmers with small holdings, often broken into several plots. Most of these farmers lived in the Ethiopian Highlands, mainly at elevations of 1,500 to 3,000 meters. There are two predominant soil types in the highlands. The first, found in areas with relatively good drainage, consists of red-to-reddish-brown clayey loams that hold moisture and are well endowed with needed minerals, with the exception of phosphorus. These types of soils are found in much of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR). The second type consists of brownish-to-gray and black soils with a high clay content. These soils are found in both the northern and the southern highlands in areas with poor drainage. They are sticky when wet, hard when dry, and difficult to work. But with proper drainage and conditioning, these soils have excellent agricultural potential.[4] According to the Central Statistical Agency (CSA), in 2008 the average Ethiopian farmer holds 1.2 hectares of land, with 55.13% of them holding less than 1.0 hectare.[5]

The population in the lowland peripheries (below 1,500 meters) is nomadic, engaged mainly in livestock raising. Sandy desert soils cover much of the arid lowlands in the northeast and in the Ogaden of southeastern Ethiopia. Because of low rainfall, these soils have limited agricultural potential, except in some areas where rainfall is sufficient for the growth of natural forage at certain times of the year. These areas are used by pastoralists who move back and forth in the area following the availability of pasture for their animals.[4]

The plains and low foothills west of the highlands have sandy and gray-to-black clay soils. Where the topography permits, they are suitable for farming. The soils of the Great Rift Valley often are conducive to agriculture if water is available for irrigation. The Awash River basin supports many large-scale commercial farms and several irrigated small farms.[4]

Soil erosion has been one of the country's major problems. Over the centuries, deforestation, overgrazing, and practices such as cultivation of slopes not suited to agriculture have eroded the soil, a situation that worsened considerably during the 1970s and 1980s, especially in Eritrea, Tigray, and parts of Gondar and Wollo. In addition, the rugged topography of the highlands, the brief but extremely heavy rainfalls that characterize many areas, and centuries-old farming practices that do not include conservation measures have accelerated soil erosion in much of Ethiopia's highland areas. In the dry lowlands, persistent winds also contribute to soil erosion.[4]

During the imperial era, the government failed to implement widespread conservation measures, largely because the country's complex land tenure system stymied attempts to halt soil erosion and improve the land. After 1975 the revolutionary government used peasant associations to accelerate conservation work throughout rural areas. The 1977 famine also provided an impetus to promote conservation. The government mobilized farmers and organized "food for work" projects to build terraces and plant trees. During 1983-84 the Ministry of Agriculture used "food for work" projects to raise 65 million tree seedlings, plant 18,000 hectares of land, and terrace 9,500 hectares of land. Peasant associations used 361 nurseries to plant 11,000 hectares of land in community forest. Between 1976 and 1985, the government constructed 600,000 kilometers of agricultural embankments on cultivated land and 470,000 kilometers of hillside terraces, and it closed 80,000 hectares of steep slopes for regeneration. However, the removal of arable land for conservation projects has threatened the welfare of increasing numbers of rural poor. For this reason, some environmental experts maintain that large-scale conservation work in Ethiopia has been ineffective.[4]

As of 2008[update], some countries that import most of their food, such as Saudi Arabia, had begun planning the development of large tracts of arable land in developing countries such as Ethiopia.[6] This has raised fears of food being exported to more prosperous countries while the local population faces its own shortage.[6]
[edit] Land reform
Main article: Land reform in Ethiopia

Until the 1974 revolution, Ethiopia had a complex land tenure system, which some have described as feudal. In Wollo Province, for example, there were an estimated 111 types of land tenure. The existence of so many land tenure systems, coupled with the lack of reliable data, made it difficult to give a comprehensive assessment of landownership in Ethiopia, as well as depressed the ability of peasants to improve themselves.[4]

By the mid-1960s, many sectors of Ethiopian society favored land reform. University students led the land reform movement and campaigned against the government's reluctance to introduce land reform programs and the lack of commitment to integrated rural development. Following their rise to power, on March 4, 1975 the Derg proclaimed their land reform program. The government nationalized rural land without compensation, abolished tenancy, forbade the hiring of wage labor on private farms, ordered all commercial farms to remain under state control, and granted each peasant family so-called "possessing rights" to a plot of land not to exceed ten hectares. Tenant farmers in southern Ethiopia, where the average tenancy was as high as 55% and rural elites exploited farmers, welcomed the land reform. But in the northern highlands, where title to farm land was shared amongst members of descent groups, many people resisted land reform. Despite the Derg's efforts to reassure farmers that land reform would not affect them negatively, northerners remained suspicious of the new government's intentions. Their resistance to this change increased when Zemecha members campaigned for collectivization of land and oxen.[4]

Government attempts to implement land reform also created problems related to land fragmentation, insecurity of tenure, and shortages of farm inputs and tools. Peasant associations often were periodically compelled to redistribute land to accommodate young families or new households moving into their area. The process meant not only smaller farms but also the fragmentation of holdings, which were often scattered into small plots to give families land of comparable quality. Consequently, individual holdings were frequently far smaller than the permitted maximum allotment of ten hectares. A 1979 study showed that around Addis Ababa individual holdings ranged from 1.0 to 1.6 hectares and that about 48 percent of the parcels were less than one-fourth of a hectare in size. Another study, of Dejen awraja (subregion) in Gojjam, found that land fragmentation had been exacerbated since the revolution. For example, during the pre-reform period, sixty-one out of 200 farmer respondents owned three or four parcels of land; after the reform, the corresponding number was 135 farmers.[4]

In 1984 the founding congress of the Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE) emphasized the need for a coordinated strategy based on socialist principles to accelerate agricultural development. To implement this strategy, the government relied on peasant associations and rural development, cooperatives and state farms, resettlement and villagization, increased food production, and a new marketing policy.[4] Despite government efforts, farmers responded less than enthusiastically. While by 1988 a total of 3600 Service Cooperatives were serving 4.4 million households and almost 4000 Producer cooperatives comprising 302,600 households had been founded, in that year they represented only 5.5% of national cereal production.[7]

Another major component of the Derg's agricultural policy was the development of large-scale state farms. Of an estimated 750,000 hectares of private commercial farms in operation at the time of the 1975 land proclamation, 67,000 hectares were converted into State Farms that, beginning in 1979, were operated by a new Ministry of State Farms. By 1989, the area covered by the State Farms had grown to a total of 220,000 hectares. However, despite substantial investments and subsidies, State Farms provided only 4.2% of the cereal production in 1988/89.[7]

The primary motive for the expansion of state farms was the desire to reverse the drop in food production that has continued since the revolution. After the 1975 land reform, peasants began withholding grain from the market to drive up prices because government price-control measures had created shortages of consumer items. In addition, increased peasant consumption caused shortages of food items such as teff, wheat, corn, and other grains in urban areas. The problem became so serious that Mengistu lashed out against the peasantry on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of military rule in September 1978. Mengistu and his advisers believed that state farms would produce grain for urban areas, raw materials for domestic industry, and also increase production of cash crops such as coffee to generate badly needed foreign exchange. Accordingly, state farms received a large share of the country's resources for agriculture; from 1982 to 1990, this totaled about 43% of the government's agricultural investment. Despite the emphasis on state farms, state farm production accounted for only 6% of total agricultural output in 1987 (although meeting 65% of urban needs), leaving peasant farmers responsible for over 90% of production.[4]

The objectives of villagization included grouping scattered farming communities throughout the country into small village clusters, promoting rational land use, conserving resources, providing access to clean water and to health and education services, and strengthen security. However, opponents of villagization argued that the scheme was disruptive to agricultural production because the government moved many farmers during the planting and harvesting seasons. There also was concern that villagization could have a negative impact on fragile local resources, accelerate the spread of communicable diseases, and increase problems with plant pests and diseases. In early 1990, the government essentially abandoned villagization when it announced new economic policies that called for free-market reforms and a relaxation of centralized planning.[4]
[edit] Agricultural production

The effect of the Derg's land reform program on food production and its marketing and distribution policies were among two of the major controversies surrounding the revolution. Available data on crop production show that land reform and the various government rural programs had a minimal impact on increasing the food supply, as production levels displayed considerable fluctuations and low growth rates at best.[4] Since the fall of the Derg, there have been a number of initiatives to improve the food supply, which include research and training by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.[8]
[edit] Major cash crops
See also: Coffee production in Ethiopia

The most important cash crop in Ethiopia was coffee. During the 1970s, coffee exports accounted for 50-60% of the total value of all exports, although coffee's share dropped to 25% as a result of the economic dislocation following the 1974 revolution. By 1976 coffee exports had recovered, and in the five years ending in 1988/89, 44% of the coffee grown was exported, accounting for about 63% of the value of exports. Domestically, coffee contributed about 20% of the government's revenue. Approximately 25% of Ethiopia's population depended directly or indirectly on coffee for its livelihood.[4]

Ethiopia's coffee is almost exclusively of the arabica type, which grows best at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,000 meters. Coffee grows wild in many parts of the country, although most Ethiopian coffee is produced in the Oromia Region (63.7%) and in the SNNPR (34.4%), with lesser amounts in the Gambela Region and around the city of Dire Dawa. The amount of coffee inspected in the fiscal year 2007/2008 by the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority (ECTA) was 230,247 tons, a decrease of almost 3% from the previous fiscal year's total of 236,714 tons.[9]

About 98 percent of the coffee was produced by peasants on smallholdings of less than a hectare, and the remaining 2 percent was produced by state farms. Some estimates indicated that yields on peasant farms were higher than those on state farms. In the 1980s, as part of an effort to increase production and to improve the cultivation and harvesting of coffee, the government created the Ministry of Coffee and Tea Development (now the ECTA), which was responsible for production and marketing. The ten-year plan called for an increase in the size of state farms producing coffee from 14,000-15,000 hectares to 50,000 hectares by 1994. However, beginning in 1987 the decline in world coffee prices, reduced Ethiopia's foreign-exchange earnings. In early 1989, for example, the price of one kilogram/US$0.58; of coffee was by June it had dropped to US$0.32. Mengistu told the 1989 WPE party congress that at US$0.32 per kilogram, foreign-exchange earnings from coffee would have dropped by 240 million Birr, and government revenue would have been reduced by 140 million Birr by the end of 1989.[4]

Before the Ethiopian Revolution, pulses and oilseeds played an important role, second only to coffee, in the country's exports. In EFY 1974/75, pulses and oilseeds accounted for 34% of export earnings (about 163 million Birr), but this share declined to about 3% (about 30 million Birr) in EFY 1988/89. Three factors contributed to the decline in the relative importance of pulses and oilseeds. First, the recurring droughts had devastated the country's main areas where pulses and oilseeds were grown. Second, because peasants faced food shortages, they gave priority to cereal staples to sustain themselves. Finally, although the production cost of pulses and oilseeds continued to rise, the government's price control policy left virtually unchanged the official procurement price of these crops, thus substantially reducing net income from them.[4] In EFY 2007/2008, the CSA reported that 17,827,387.94 quintals of pulses were produced on 1,517,661.93 hectares, an increase from the 15,786,215.3 quintals produced on 1,379,045.77 hectares. In the same fiscal year, 707,059.29 hectares under cultivation produced 6,169,279.99 quintals of oilseeds, an increase from the previous year of 4,970,839.57 quintals grown on 741,790.98 hectares.[10] In 2006/2007 (the latest year available), exports of oilseeds accounted for 15.78% of export earnings (or million 187.4 Birr) and pulses 5.92% (or 70.3 million Birr).[11]

Ethiopia's flower industry has become a new source for export revenue. The industry began in 2004, when the government made an aggressive push for foreign investments by establishing a presence at major international floricultural events. Since then, export earnings from this sector have grown to about US$65 million in 2006/07 and are projected to double over the next few years. Ethiopia is well positioned because highland temperatures make it ideal for horticulture, the average wage rate is US$20 per month (compared to US$60 a month in India), the price of leased land is about US$13 per hectare, and the government has tremendously aided the entry of new businesses into this sector in recent years. As a result, a number of Indian entrepreneurs are relocating to Ethiopia to develop its thriving flower industry which has led to gains in market share at the expense of neighboring countries.[12]

Another new source for export revenue is the production of khat, an amphetamine-like stimulant which is consumed both inside Ethiopia and in adjacent countries, and which is considered a drug of abuse that can lead to mild to moderate psychological dependence. In 2006/2007 (the latest year available), exports of khat accounted for 7.8% of export earnings (or 92.8 million Birr).[11]

Cotton is grown throughout Ethiopia below elevations of about 1,400 meters. Because most of the lowlands lack adequate rainfall, cotton cultivation depends largely on irrigation. Before the revolution, large-scale commercial cotton plantations were developed in the Awash Valley and the Humera areas. The Tendaho Cotton Plantation in the lower Awash Valley was one of Ethiopia's largest cotton plantations. Rain-fed cotton also grew in Humera, Bilate, and Arba Minch. Since the revolution, most commercial cotton has been grown on irrigated state farms, mostly in the Awash Valley area. Production jumped from 43,500 tons in 1974/75 to 74,900 tons in 1984/85. Similarly, the area of cultivation increased from 22,600 hectares in 1974/75 to 33,900 hectares in 1984/85.[4]
[edit] Major staple crops

Ethiopia's major staple crops include a variety of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, and coffee. Grains are the most important field crops and the chief element in the diet of most Ethiopians. The principal grains are teff, wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, and millet. The first three are primarily cool-weather crops cultivated at altitudes generally above 1,500 meters. Teff, indigenous to Ethiopia, furnishes the flour for enjera, an unleavened bread that is the principal form in which grain is consumed in the highlands and in urban centers throughout the country. Barley is grown mostly between 2,000 and 3,500 meters. A major subsistence crop, barley is used as food and in the production of tella, a locally produced beer.[4]

Sorghum, millet, and corn are cultivated mostly in warmer areas at lower altitudes along the country's western, southwestern, and eastern peripheries. Sorghum and millet, which are drought resistant, grow well at low elevations where rainfall is less reliable. Corn is grown chiefly between elevations of 1,500 and 2,200 meters and requires large amounts of rainfall to ensure good harvests. These three grains constitute the staple foods of a good part of the population and are major items in the diet of the nomads.[4]

Pulses are the second most important element in the national diet and a principal protein source. They are boiled, roasted, or included in a stew-like dish known as wot, which is sometimes a main dish and sometimes a supplementary food. Pulses, grown widely at all altitudes from sea level to about 3,000 meters, are more prevalent in the northern and central highlands. Pulses were a particularly important export item before the revolution.[4]

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church traditionally has forbidden consumption of animal fats on many days of the year. As a result, vegetable oils are widely used, and oilseed cultivation is an important agricultural activity. The most important oilseed is the indigenous Niger seed (neug), which is grown on 50 percent or more of the area devoted to oilseeds. Niger seed is found mostly in the northern and central highlands at elevations between 1,800 and 2,500 meters. Flaxseed, also indigenous, is cultivated in the same general area as Niger seed. The third most important oilseed is sesame, which grows at elevations from sea level to about 1,500 meters. In addition to its domestic use, sesame is also the principal export oilseed. Oilseeds of lesser significance include castor beans, rapeseed, peanuts, and safflower and sunflower seeds. Most oilseeds are raised by small-scale farmers, but sesame was also grown by large-scale commercial farms before the era of land reform and the nationalization of agribusiness.[4]

Ensete, known locally as false banana, is an important food source in Ethiopia's southern and southwestern highlands. It is cultivated principally by the Gurage, Sidama, and several other ethnic groups in the region. Resembling the banana but bearing an inedible fruit, the plant produces large quantities of starch in its underground rhizome and an above-ground stem that can reach a height of several meters. Ensete flour constitutes the staple food of the local people. Taro, yams, and sweet potatoes are commonly grown in the same region as the ensete.[4]

The consumption of vegetables and fruits is relatively limited, largely because of their high cost. Common vegetables include onions, peppers, squash, and a cabbage similar to kale. Demand for vegetables has stimulated truck farming around the main urban areas such as Addis Ababa and Asmera. Prior to the Revolution, urbanization increased the demand for fruit, leading to the establishment of citrus orchards in areas with access to irrigation in Shewa, Arsi, Hararghe, and Eritrea. The Mengistu regime encouraged fruit and vegetable production. Fresh fruits, including citrus and bananas, as well as fresh and frozen vegetables, became important export items, but their profitability was marginal. The Ethiopian Fruit and Vegetable Marketing Enterprise, which handled about 75 percent of Ethiopia's exports of fruits and vegetables in 1984-85, had to receive government subsidies because of losses.[4]

Ethiopia's demand for grain continued to increase because of population pressures, while supply remained short, largely because of drought and government agricultural policies, such as price controls, which adversely affected crop production. Food production had consistently declined throughout the 1980s. Consequently, Ethiopia became a net importer of grain worth about 243 million Birr annually from 1983/84 to 1987/88. The food deficit estimate for the 1985/89 period indicated that production averaged about 6 million tons while demand reached about 10 million tons, thus creating an annual deficit of roughly 4 million tons. Much of the food deficit was covered through food aid. Between 1984/85 and 1986/87, at the height of the drought, Ethiopia received more than 1.7 million tons of grain, about 14 percent of the total food aid for Africa. In addition, Ethiopia spent 341 million Birr on food purchases during the 1985-87 period.[4]
[edit] Livestock

Livestock production plays an important role in Ethiopia's economy. Estimates for 1987 indicated that livestock production contributed one-third of agriculture's share of GDP, or nearly 15 percent of total GDP. In the 2006/2007 EFY hides, skins and leather products made up 7.5% of the total export value; live animals accounted for 3.1% of the total value of exports during the same period.[11]

Although varying from region to region, the role of livestock in the Ethiopian economy was greater than the figures suggest. Almost the entire rural population was involved in some way with animal husbandry, whose role included the provision of draft power, food, cash, transportation, fuel, and, especially in pastoral areas, social prestige. In the highlands, oxen provided draft power in crop production. In pastoral areas, livestock formed the basis of the economy. Per capita meat consumption was high by developing countries' standards, an estimated thirteen kilograms annually. According to a 1987 estimate, beef accounted for about 51% of all meat consumption, followed by mutton and lamb (19%), poultry (15%), and goat (14%).[4]

Ethiopia's estimated livestock population is often said to be the largest in Africa.[13] It is estimated to number over 150 million in 2007/2008. Excluding the Afar and Somali Regions, there were approximately 47.5 million cattle, 26.1 million sheep, 21.7 million goats, 2.1 million horses and mules, 5.6 million donkeys, 1 million camels, and 39.6 million poultry. For the later two Regions, estimated numbers vary greatly between conventional and aerial censuses, but total less than 15% of the non-nomadic Regions. Though the raising of livestock always has been largely a subsistence activity,[14] intensive, factory farm facilities are gaining in popularity and are present in Addis Ababa and Debre Zeit, run by Ethiopian agribusiness ELFORA. [15]

Ethiopia has great potential for increased livestock production, both for local use and for export. However, expansion was constrained by inadequate nutrition, disease, a lack of support services such as extension services, insufficient data with which to plan improved services, and inadequate information on how to improve animal breeding, marketing, and processing. The high concentration of animals in the highlands, together with the fact that cattle are often kept for status, reduces the economic potential of Ethiopian livestock.[4]

While efforts are being made to intensify and industrialize the sector, questions arise as to how Ethiopia can develop and expand its livestock population when Ethiopians already struggle to gain access to good soil, grazing land, and water. [16] As Ethiopia increasingly experiences the effects of climate change, drought, and desertification, experts predict that "Ethiopia will have to open its markets to grain imports in order to keep up with the growing demand for meat, milk, and eggs."[17].

Both the imperial and the Marxist governments tried to improve livestock production by instituting programs such as free vaccination, well-digging, construction of feeder roads, and improvement of pastureland, largely through international organizations such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. During Derg rule, veterinary stations were opened at Bahir Dar, Bedele, and Debre Zeyit to provide treatment and vaccination services.[4]

Cattle in Ethiopia are almost entirely of the zebu type and are poor sources of milk and meat. However, these cattle do relatively well under the traditional production system. About 70 percent of the cattle in 1987 were in the highlands, and the remaining 30 percent were kept by nomadic pastoralists in the lowland areas. Meat and milk yields are low and losses high, especially among calves and young stock. Contagious diseases and parasitic infections are major causes of death, factors that are exacerbated by malnutrition and starvation. Recurring drought takes a heavy toll on the animal population, although it is difficult to determine the extent of losses. Practically all animals are range-fed. During the rainy seasons, water and grass are generally plentiful, but with the onset of the dry season, forage is generally insufficient to keep animals nourished and able to resist disease.[18]

Most of Ethiopia's estimated 48 million sheep and goats are raised by small farmers who used them as a major source of meat and cash income. About three-quarters of the total sheep flock is in the highlands, whereas lowland pastoralists maintain about three-quarters of the goat herd. Both animals have high sales value in urban centers, particularly during holidays such as Easter and New Year's Day.[18]

Most of the estimated 7.5 million equines (horses, mules, and donkeys) are used to transport produce and other agricultural goods. Camels also play a key role as pack animals in areas below 1,500 meters in elevation. Additionally, camels provide pastoralists in those areas with milk and meat.[18]

Poultry farming is widely practiced in Ethiopia; almost every farmstead keeps some poultry for consumption and for cash sale. The highest concentration of poultry is in Shewa, in central Wollo, and in northwestern Tigray. Individual poultry farms supply eggs and meat to urban dwellers. By 1990 the state had begun to develop large poultry farms, mostly around Addis Ababa, to supply hotels and government institutions.[4] Multinational agribusinesses supply these industrial poultry farms with high yielding breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. [19]
[edit] Government marketing operations

Private traders and the Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC), established in 1976, marketed Ethiopia's agricultural output. The AMC was a government agency whose objective was to influence the supply and price of crops. It purchased grain from peasant associations at fixed prices. The AMC set quotas of grain purchases to be delivered by peasant associations and cooperatives and also bought from private wholesalers, who were required to sell half of their purchases at predetermined prices. State farms sold their output to the AMC. Although the AMC had agents in all regions, it was particularly active in the major cereal producing regions, namely, Gojjam, Shewa, Arsi, and Gondar. In 1981/82, out of the AMC's purchases of 257,000 tons of grain, Gojjam accounted for 32 percent of the purchases, and Arsi, Shewa, and Gonder accounted for 23%, 22%, and 10%, respectively. The government's price controls and the AMC's operations had led to the development of different price systems at various levels. For instance, the 1984/85 official procurement price for 100 kilograms of teff was 42 birr at the farm level and 60 birr when the AMC purchased it from wholesalers. But the same quantity of teff retailed at 81 birr at food stores belonging to the urban dwellers' associations (kebeles) in Addis Ababa and sold for as much as 181 birr in the open market. Such wide price variations created food shortages because farmers as well as private merchants withheld crops to sell on the black market at higher prices.[4]2/9/2011
WikiLeaks releases Unclassified document about Land grab in Ethiopia

SUBJECT: FOREIGN INVESTORS GRAB UP MORE LAND IN ETHIOPIA

WikiLeaks

REF: 09 ADDIS ABABA 2900

ADDIS ABAB 00000247 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Government of Ethiopia's (GoE) recent high
profile land deals and shift in agricultural policy (reftel) have
attracted additional foreign investors to the agricultural and
tourism sectors. In January, Egyptian Prime Minster Dr. Ahmed Nazif
led a large delegation to Ethiopia to announce the National Bank of
Egypt's lease of 49,400 acres of land to grow cereals. Press
reports indicated that these cereals are headed for export to Egypt.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Djiboutian
President Ismael Omar Guelleh separately leased land plots to build
hotels outside of Addis Ababa, while Guelleh already leases a 7,400
acre farm that started exporting wheat back to Djibouti last year.
Finally, the South African private equity investment fund Agri-Vie
invested USD 3.5 million in a company that is growing and processing
various fruits to manufacture juice products. These juice products
will primarily target the European and the Middle Eastern markets as
reported by the company to Econoff. Despite the benefits of
increased foreign investment, political opposition members and
international critics remain skeptical about the GoE's motives and
the land policy's affect on poor, rural Ethiopians. End Summary.


Egyptians Eye Investment Opportunities
--------------------------------------

¶2. (U) The Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr. Ahmed Nazif, led the latest
charge of foreign agricultural investment during a January visit to
Ethiopia. Nazif, alongside his delegation of several cabinet
ministers and 26 agricultural companies, announced that the
state-owned National Bank of Egypt plans to invest USD 40 million in
the lease of 49,400 acres of land in the Afar region to grow
cereals. Press reports stated that these cereals would be exported
to Egypt despite the GoE's 2007 "temporary" export ban on all
cereals that has never been formally lifted. (Note: It appears
Saudi, Djiboutian, and now Egyptian investors have somehow bypassed this ban, while other investors informed Econoff that they have not been allowed to export cereal grains (reftel). End Note.) The bank is also poised to open an office in Ethiopia to serve existing and
new Egyptian projects and plans to offer credit of USD 14.6 million
to six Ethiopian banks according to local press reports. (Note: the
domestic banking sector is closed to foreign banks; however, other
foreign banks such as Germany's Commerzbank do have offices in
Ethiopia to facilitate relations with Ethiopian banks. It is
unclear how the National Bank of Egypt could offer credit in
Ethiopia in evident violation of banking and financial regulations.
End Note.) Beyond the focus on agriculture, Nazif signed a
memorandum of understanding with GoE Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to form an Ethio-Egypt Council of Commerce. Meles said during the
signing ceremony that relations between Ethiopia and Egypt had
evolved from distrust towards friendly cooperation. Other areas of
Egyptian business interest included livestock, drug manufacturing,
and hydroelectric power.

Former Nigerian President and Djiboutian President Also Invest
--------------------------------------------- ------

¶3. (U) Another foreign VIP seen around town and looking for land was
the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo
recently leased about five acres of land near Debrezeit, Oromia
region (about 50 kilometers east of Addis Ababa) to develop a hotel
and tourist destination. In addition, current Djiboutian President
Ismael Omar Guelleh recently acquired the right to develop about 2.5
acres of lakeside land in Debrezeit to build a hotel. This
acquisition added to the 7,400 acres of farmland Guelleh leased last
year in Bale, Oromia region. According to post's conversations with
local agricultural business investors and press reports, this farm
has already harvested wheat and other cereals for export to
Djibouti.

Private Equity Fund Invests in Fruit Juice Farm
--------------------------------------------- --


ADDIS ABAB 00000247 002.2 OF 002


¶4. (U) South African private equity fund Agri-Vie has also chosen to
invest in Ethiopia's agricultural sector. The fund invested USD 3.5
million in africaJUICE, a company already in the process of
establishing fruit production and processing operations when Econoff
visited its 3,000 acre operation last year. The Dutch and British
company representatives reported to Econoff that it plans to target
the juice markets in Europe and the Middle East. The company
purchased this farm (not the land) from the GoE and converted it to
produce yellow passion fruit, mango, and papaya.

Critics Concerned About Rural Population
----------------------------------------

¶5. (U) As more reports of foreign land leases in Ethiopia surface,
the GoE continues to insist local farmers will not be adversely
affected by its land deals. Regarding agricultural investment, the
GoE views foreign investor involvement as key to the country's move
from subsistence to commercial farming (reftel). On top of any
potential damage to local farmers, international and political
opposition party critics cite concerns over exporting food from a
country that relies so heavily on imported food aid and the
perceived low wages that foreign investors pay its employees.
Merara Gudina, Chairman of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity
Forum (a coalition of political opposition parties), accused the GoE
of using its land "giveaway" policy to hold on to power and to buy
diplomatic support. U.S.-based GoE opposition movement Ginbot 7
stated in a January editorial that the GoE needs to change its
communist land policy and empower local farmers, who have the
potential to produce a marketable surplus. The editorial further
noted that any land deal that has not been agreed to by the
Ethiopian people will not be honored by future elected governments.


Comment
-------

¶6. (SBU) The GoE clearly needed to shift its agricultural policy in
order to make effective use of its vast amounts of fertile land, and
the agricultural policy mix being implemented is viewed by most
experts as a step in the right direction. However, that evolving
policy is a long way from proving its worth as a vehicle for
achieving the GoE's stated goals of modernizing the sector,
generating foreign exchange reserves, and increasing the domestic
food supply. End Comment.
PermalinkPermalink74 comments »
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74 comments
Comment from: Dream On [Visitor]
To Eritreans
Those rich Eritreans by now would have their own fertile land in Ethiopia....You are refugees on a fertile land. Can you see what is happening under your eyes? You will never own it! We prefer to give it to the Chinese, Indians, Nigerians...You will never never never get it & own it!!

Eat your SAWA desert sand.


The GoE clearly needed to shift its agricultural policy in order to make effective use of its vast amounts of fertile land, and the agricultural policy mix being implemented is viewed by most experts as a step in the right direction.
============
I love it!!
The Disapora is now officialy dead and buried!!
01/30/11 @ 01:50
Comment from: alex [Visitor]
Hey where is the anger, where is the outrage? Ethiopians. I think the best peopel in Ethiopian have come and gone in the past generation. This generation is all about, Women or men, Chat mirkanna, alchohole and ego. 80 million of you are officially dead alive. The land belongs to you and your grand children have been sold by the etnic federalist crime minester Z..we. Where is the anger peopl? where is it? Look at the egyptians, Tunisians and Yemen. Please take the momentum and knock down your 20 years tiren.
01/30/11 @ 02:51
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
*****
The current land policy under-way in Ethiopia signifies the regime's desperate attempt to cling on to power and avoid by a means necessary to empower the people of Ethiopia- in fear of the economic prosperity of the latter.

It is right time for all Ethiopian related website to create a forum where the Ethiopian Activist can steer the inevitable revolution under way in Ethiopia.

To facilitate this, I am requesting Nazereth.com and other website to immediately print any comment, suggestion, blog, or any other writing. For example, Nazereth.com takes 1-2 days to print a comment on its post column. It is understandable why this website do this. it is just to edit some offensive comment. However, this can be done after, it allows the writing to be appeared on the blog.

censorship before print is against all the spirit of the freedom of speech. any world major website make your comment appear in their blog immediately and disallow it if it contain offensive material
01/30/11 @ 03:00
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
Let us steer the current political, economic and social transformation underway in Ethiopia. It is time to make sure that the course of the history does not take its own turn. We are under duty to shape and create our future.

Ethiopia is a country that composes of many nation/nationalities. In the past, the effort made to address these has met by revisionist interest to carry out their hidden agenda. A case in point is the Derge Regime that hijacked the popular uprising of Studnet in the 70s and the people struggle in the 80s which was again used by the current regime to implement its divisiveness agenda of ethnic. I do have any objection if people are organised themselves by their ethnic origin. But it is totally unacceptable when the regime used this to carry out its hidden agenda of dividing the people to just fulfil it poor policies.
01/30/11 @ 03:10
Comment from: alex [Visitor]
Alex,

you smell like Eritrean. listen most ethiopians know that the opposition works with Eritrea. lets examine the opposition seriously. EPPF is in Eritrea, Ginbot 7 based in Eritrea, the Diaspora those that visited ethiopia see the opportunity they can have with their doller so they keep quiet about politics and invest, the poor in ethiopia are trying to make it and not worried about politics, this is reality i just came from Ethiopia, but there is a common thinking, which is everyone dis-trust Eritrea (shabia) and their people for not speaking about their own oppressor (Assayas Afuwora) and pretending that everything is ok. when asked about how eritrea is most eritreans say, eritrea is number one and we are better than you ethiopians, who are africans, we are most advance becuse we have been colonized, this really upsets ethiopians and most africans, and also Eritrea has joined the Arab league there for against ethiopia. so anything that originates from Eritrea is seen with suspicious, this is what i got from speaking with fellow avarage ethiopians in the street, i wanted to see myself what most people think. So the Eritrean road is a dead end road, most ethiopians also despise Eritreans and think any relationship with eritreans will bring eritreans to ethiopia in drove and they will demand they be treated better than ethiopians like pre 1991 when eritrea became the second biggest coffee exporter, more than Ethiopia when not one coffee tree exist in Eritrea. i am being honest with you. most ethiopians specially the young support the EPRDF regime as the least evil of all politician groups. Believe me when i tell you if you are Eritrean or Amiche who desire one day to return to your glory days in addis forget about it, it is better to worry about your own country then try to remove this government and install pro eritrean government, the hate is very deep now, more than i expected. the Oromos the Amaras, the ogadeans, gambellas, snnp all have one thing in common which suprised me they all do not like anything Eritrean, but disagree in many things, i am just being truly honest so you won't waste your time. the only way i see the melese regime could change is if an opposition who comes on a card of unity and progress with a young face will win over the people beside that old (shemagella) opposition that we see now are not liked more than eprdf trust me, be ewnat new yemilhe, i have no political aganda just speaking the truth.
01/30/11 @ 03:13
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
*****
My message is to all people who hails from Oromos, Amharas, Somalis, Gurages, Sidamas and many nation/nationalities in Ethiopia. In the last 20 years or the whole Ethiopian history, different regimes has come and gone without address the real concern of the people.

There is no doubt that all regimes that occurred in Ethiopia made themselves busy with protecting their position. The current regime is not different. It is trying to avoid the current political change that is sweeping in the whole Northern African countries and Middle East. Dictators come and go but the nation will be there and it is time we should come together and design a plan B strategy.

The inevitability of downfall of Meles regime is unquestionable. The authoritarian regimes of Tunisia and Egypt are on the way out or already fell down. The current regime fate will not be different than them. Diaspora in the international community should come together and form a recognised international committee to steer the internal struggle in the country. I do not think simple sitting and watching the events unfolding in Ethiopia is not good for us and the country. we have responsibility to act now.
01/30/11 @ 03:23
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
*****
Meles is selling our land to foreigners
and those whom he considers the saviour. In Ethiopia law are made to affect only a targeted group- political dissidents. Meles does not object to you if even violate the criminal code and kill people as long as you support him. This is what is happening in Somali Regional State. An illiterate depot called Abdi Mohamed Omar is killing the people of the region indiscriminately. His boss, Mr. Meles, accepts these killing with blessing. Abdi (Iley)enjoys cordial relationship with Meles. This is evident by the photographic opportunity posted all over the weyane and Iley's websites. I do not understand why Meles choose to favour a killer. is he a sadist who enjoys by the killing, murder, torture, and imprisonment of the mas. I do not think this is not the reason why all opposition parties and fronts fought against the Derge regime.
01/30/11 @ 03:41
Comment from: BOW [Visitor]
rise up for your land. of the most important struggle against eprdf should be the land grab. they are selling our land for 99 years. why 99 years? think about it. we need to make our voice heard.
01/30/11 @ 04:05
Comment from: one [Visitor]
THE BIGGEST ISSUE IN REGARDS TO ALL OPPOSITIONS ARE THEY ARE TOO OLD MAN FOR A COUNTRY WHERE 92% OF THE POPULATION IS UNDER 35 YEARS OLD. 3% OF POPULATION IS OVER 50 YEARS OLD. AND WHERE 100% OF THE OPPOSITION ARE 60 YEARS OLD. ALMARIAM IS 60+, DR. BERHANU IS 60+, SHAWALE AND DR. PETROS (I CALL HIM CRUSTY THE CLOWN FROM SIMPSONS) THEY LOOK LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, THEY LOOK LIKE MUMMIES. THE OPPOSITION NEEDS YOUNG FACE WITH 85% UNDER 35 TO RELATE TO YOUNG ETHIOPIANS LIKE MYSELF WHO IS 25 YEARS OLD. I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR ANY OF THE OPPOSITION EXCEPT FOR BURTUKAN BUT SHE GAVE UP. WHAT IF I VOTE FOR ONE OF THEM AND THEY HAVE A HEART ATTACK AND DIE THEN WHAT, PLUS LEFASUBEN NEW YEAROGETE FESE OR LEAD ME. COME ON MAN. THE OPPOSITION HAS NO BRIAN. THE CHANGE IN ETHIOPIA CAN ONLY COME FROM YOUNG PEOPLE BELIEVE ME, AND THE YOUNG NOW ARE DOING A FEW THINGS, THEY ARE CHEWING CHAT MERKANA ALL DAY EVERY DAY 30%, ADDICTED TO EUROPIAN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE 30%, GOING TO SCHOOL TO BETTER THEMSELVES 30%, WORKING MINIMAL JOB TO SHOW OFF AND GET FEW GIRLS AND PARTY 10%, INTERESTED IN POLITICS LESS THAN 1%. GAME OVER.
01/30/11 @ 04:07
Comment from: ALPHA and OMEGA [Visitor]
GRAB what u want now! The bottom line is once we send the sell out TEGRES where they belongs , all FERNJI,ARABS and CIA agent SELATOS will be toosed out like meatlsess bone.
01/30/11 @ 04:21
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
*****
What we can learn from classic and modern revolutions that occurred in the world in the last three centuries. starting from the French revolution in the eighteenth century to the current uprising in the Northern part of Africa and Middle East are a clear reminder of that susceptibility of oppressive regimes. Regardless of their military and economic power, they could be challenged by the will of the people even with bare hand. 80 million people descending on the palace of the Sidis Kilo would be overwhelmed by only the sheer number. The repressive military machinery built to effect this would disintegrate by this mere number. History has shown us that no oppressive regime would survive if the will of the people have no tolerance for it. That is what happened in Tunisia. It is also happening in Egypt as we speak now. There is no reason why it would not next happen in Ethiopia.

bringing change to Ethiopia requires a strong resolve, we must work in coordinate way. This is the time to come together and see an alternative to the current deadlock in Ethiopian politics. The role of diaspora community is vital. We should not be diverted by the Meles's regime desperate attempt to buy time and talking about diaspora community contribution to the country.

We should use our power. we have different mode of power. one I prefer is the economic power. The diaspora send a massive amount of money to Ethiopia every year. The current government is starved of foreign currency at moment. If we sustain to boycott sending money to Ethiopia for at least six months, this government will come crumpling down.This also includes any money we send for investment.

The principle of non-violence is not cooperating with oppressive regime as long as it does not heed to the will of the people. Economy has power. As the brain behind the non-violence movement- Mahathama Gandi- clearly pointed out shunning any economy activity carry out by this regime is a prime target. I am advising you not to use any corporation which has a major trade relation with the regime business conglomerate. These businesses are wegagan bank, mega company, and other corporations.

Let us devise an economic block to stimulate the current change underway in Ethiopia. No money sent to Ethiopia for at least six months in order to facilitate the change.This money should also include investment money. But exception could be made to essential remittance sent to alleviate severe hardship, life saving money, for example money sent to purchase food, life saving health medication so on.

This is the new front the diaspora community should look at as an alternative to arm struggle to bring change in Ethiopia. We should also send a clear message to those who are engaged in land grab. Any land grab made within the current regime's tenure should be made void and invalid as soon as a representative government is set up in Ethiopia.

The Arabs, Djibouti, Sudanese, Chinese and other nations should be aware of the danger of their money lost if they irresponsibly engaged in misappropriating the ordinary peasants of Ethiopia their land. I do not know why people fail to learn from history. in the last time, the people revolution has achieved by confiscating the wrongly appropriated assets. This will be the fate for those who disregard the will of the people. We are coming and working day and night to bring change in Ethiopia.


01/30/11 @ 04:25
Comment from: one [Visitor]
THE OPPOSITION IS ALSO TOO DEPENDENT ON ERITREAN AND IS SEEN AS ERITREAN PUPPETS BY AVERAGE ETHIOPIAN. THIS DOES NOT HELP THE OPPOSITION BECAUSE ETHIOPIANS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN SHARING WHAT THEY HAVE WITH ERITREANS. ERITREA OR SHABIA IS SEEN AS THE ENEMY OF ETHIOPIA AND IS SUPPORTED BY EGYPT WHICH HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE ENEMY OF ETHIOPIA. THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE UNLESS THE NILE GET UP AND WALK OUT OF ETHIOPIA OR EGYPT, FOR ETHIOPIA AND EGYPT TO BE GOOD NEIGHBORS THE NILE HAS TO CHOOSE WHICH COUNTRY IT SHOULD ONLY EXIST...LOL BECAUSE AS LONG AS THE NILE IS IN BOTH COUNTRY THEY WILL ALWAYS BE ENEMIES AND ERITREA HAS CHOOSEN TO BE WITH EGYPT WHICH IS THE ENEMY OF ETHIOPIA SO IT MAKES ERITREA THE ENEMY OF ETHIOPIA ALSO....LMAOF. AS LONG AS THE OPPOSITION DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THEY NEED A YOUNG FACE AND DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM ERITREAN, THEY WILL NEVER GET ANY SUPPORT. 85% OF ETHIOPIANS ARE UNDER 35 YEARS OLD AND 76% ARE UNDER 30 YEARS OLD AND DO NOT KNOW ERITREA WAS ONCE PART OF ETHIOPIA, THEY HAVE BEEN THOUGHT AND ASSUME ERITREA IS ETHIOPIA NEIGHBOR AND ENEMY OF ETHIOPIA, AND PART OF ARAB LEAGUE, I DON'T THINK THE OPPOSITION DO THEIR HOMEWORK ABO. THEY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THIS IN ORDER TO BE AFFECTIVE. LETS EXAMINE THE OPPOSITION ONE BY ONE. OLF AND ONLF DON'T HAVE ANY SUPPORT BY ETHIOPIANS EXCEPT A FEW FROM THEIR OWN ETHNIC GROUPS, G7, EPPEF AND ALL AHMARA OPPOSITION, THEY WANT TO GET ASSAB BACK BUT WORK WITH ERITREANS SO THAT IS SEEN WITH SUSPICIOUS KNOWING SHABIA WILL NEVER GIVE UP ASSAB. KINIJIT LOST QUEEN BURTUKAN SO IT IS DEAD. DR. BERHANU IS SEEN AS A "COWARD, CHEESE BURGER WITH FRIES EATING FAT ASS" WHO BETRAYED ETHIOPIAS AND RAN TO AMERICA. ELIAS, TAMAGNE AND ETHIOPIA REVIEW CHEERLEADERS ARE SEEN AS ERITREAN PUPPETS. SO TELL ME WHAT OPPOSITION HAS THE HEART OF ETHIOPIANS BESIDE BERTUKAN. BY THE WAY I DON'T SUPPORT BURTUKAN BECAUSE SHE IS NOT READY TO LEAD ETHIOPIA BUT WAS THE ONLY CHALLENGE TO MELESE AND HE KNEW IT, BUT HE OUTSMARTED HER. THE RESET ARE SEEN AS POWER HUNGRY DIASPORA AND ARE HATED IN ETHIOPIA BELIEVE ME I JUST CAME FROM ADDIS BY THE WAY IS GREAT AND I HAD THE BEST TIME, AND SPOKE TO PEOPLE TO SEE WHAT THE ATMOSPHERE IS LIKE. OPPOSITION IS DEAD AND PEOPLE ARE JUST WORRIED ABOUT MONEY AND DO NOT TRUST EACH OTHER, THE MOST I SAW THAT IS DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE ARE TOLD IN AMERICA IS PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO GET ALONG NO MATTER WHAT ETHNIC THEY ARE. THAT WAS FUNNY I HAD LUNCH WITH A GAMBELLA, OROMO, AHMARA , TIGRAY AND THEY ALL LAUGHED WHEN I TOLD THEM THE DIASPORA THINK THEY DON'T GET A LONG. THEY SAID THEIR PUTTING THEIR MONEY TOGETHER TO OPEN UP A IMPORT EXPORT COMPANY AND ALL THEY WERE INTERESTED IN WAS IF I KNOW A MARKET IN AMERICA THEY CAN EXPORT TOO AND WERE NOT INTERESTED IN POLITICS AT ALL, AND BRUSHED ME OFF WHEN I BRING UP POLITICS AND THEY KEEP ASKING ME TO SEE IF A MARKET EXIST AND IF I CAN BUY THEM SIM CARD AND SEND THEM LAPTOP WHEN I GET TO AMERICA. THEY ALL TALK ABOUT MONEY AND BUSINESS AND NO POLITICS. POLITICS IS DEAD IN ETHIOPIA PEOPLE, EVERY ONE WANTS BUSINESS AND MONEY.
01/30/11 @ 04:32
Comment from: Abdisaa agaa [Visitor]
alex, the ethiopian

let me sum-up your honest description of how most ethiopians feel about Eritreans.

* A 'friendly' Eritrea is more dangerous to Ethiopia than a hostile one. in other words,
* The day Eritreans make peace with Eritrea is the beginning of the end for Ethiopia.
01/30/11 @ 04:43
Comment from: abdisaa agaa [Visitor]
sorry the second sentence should read,

* The day Eritreans make peace with Ethiopia will be the beginning of the end for Ethiopia.
01/30/11 @ 04:45
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
The writer calling himself/herself 'one' failed to understand that the idea of big society is not a part but a whole components of the society. The children, young, the adolescents, the adults, the middle aged and the retired section of the society have active roles to play in the political life of Ethiopia. Mr. one is 'Ageist' ( have prejudice against old people) or he/she does not know what is talking about. This is the clear shortcoming. Beyond that evidence from other countries clearly corraborate the fact that people in their 60s or 70s can play constructive roles in their countries political roles. Maturity comes with wisdom. We should cherish people who have accumulated a resourceful experiences in their lives and can help us build a country that accept the opinions everyone.

Let us start by blank page and build a nation that protect and give a chance to voice of people who have never been given the opportunity to represent their side of the story. The so called 'one' is trying to convince us that we should follow his bigoted ideology. As a member of a civilised world I do not buy to this type of bigoted thinking. Rather go and learn how to build a sustainable community without affecting any one.

or
01/30/11 @ 04:50
Comment from: afarman [Visitor]
Ethiopia is in the right move with regards to its investment policy. Millions of hectares of land has been idle for centuries, wikileaks reported that land is being sold in Ethiopia, it seems that who ever sent the cable seems to have lack of understanding about the land policy in ethiopia, the land is leased to foreign investors for a limited period of time, its not sold, according to our constituttion land is owned by the public and cant be sold.

01/30/11 @ 04:57
Comment from: afarman [Visitor]


Right now Ethiopia has become the biggest economy in East Africa, its the third fastest economy in the world, who thought Ethiopia will develop in such a pace. The EPRDF has transformed our economy from being bunkrupt in 1991 to being a vibrant and fastest growing economy in the world. All this is achieved as a result of conducive environment created by the Government, Ethiopia has an investment friendly policy, the flow of FDI will continue for years to come and we will soon be a middle income country.

The opposition groups hosted by Eritrea and the toxic diaspora will continue to shade their crocodile tears, we should all join hands and protect the peace and stability from ant-peace elements. They have now started to dream of colour revolutions, rose,orange,jasmine, etc, Our government should have a zero tolerance policy to those who intend to import chaos and mysery in our country. These evils want to see the image of ethiopia and its rulling party destroyed, they wouldnt leave any stone unturned to achieve their goals. to that effect they may use to use the democratic atmosphere in our country to promote hate and prejudice.

Together we can defeat these forces of evil in the manner we destroyed their spiritual mentor Mengistu and its regime.

Our support to the EPRDF will continue, together we will lift ethiopia out of poverty.
01/30/11 @ 05:03
Comment from: afarman [Visitor]

Ethiopians and foreigners are all welcome to invest in the agricultural sector. The land which is leased to foreigners was not used by farmers, its a land which was not used for centuries. If Ethiopia has to develop we need to make use of our resources, our government is now using our rivers and huge amount of unused land. The building of hydroelectric plants, irrigation, and commercial farms will definetly transform ethiopian economy.

Why are some people shading crocodile tears in the name of ethiopian land? I don really understand it, the only reason why they oppose such move by our government is clear, the opposition seems to think that they should oppose evry thing done by the rulling government. sensless opposition which doesnt take ethiopia's national interest is doomed to fail, thats one of the reasons the oppositon groups lost support on various occasions, ethiopians have lost hope in the opposition groups.
As an Ethiopian I support the flow foreign direct Investment to Ethiopia.

Its as a result of FDI and expansion of services, increase of agricultural out puts and beginning of industrialisation our country begin to develop.

01/30/11 @ 05:05
Comment from: afarman [Visitor]
The Investment will help creat jobs for tens of thousands of people. It will boost government revenue throu tax, The foreign currency and money collected will inturn help to expand infrastructures and services for the country.

01/30/11 @ 05:11
Comment from: afarman [Visitor]
Ethiopia is in the right move with regards to its investment policy. Millions of hectares of land has been idle for centuries, wikileaks reported that land is being sold in Ethiopia, it seems that who ever sent the cable seems to have lack of understanding about the land policy in ethiopia, the land is leased to foreign investors for a limited period of time, its not sold, according to our constituttion land is owned by the public and cant be sold.

The Investment will help creat jobs for tens of thousands of people. It will boost government revenue through tax, the foreign currency obtained from export of agricultural products will help expand services and infrastructures in the country.

Ethiopians and foreigners are all welcome to invest in the agricultural sector. The land which is leased to foreigners was not used by farmers, its a land which was not used for centuries. If Ethiopia has to develop we need to make use of our resources, our government is now using our rivers and huge amount of unused land. The building of hydroelectric plants, irrigation, and commercial farms will definetly transform ethiopian economy.

Why are some people shading crocodile tears in the name of ethiopian land? I don really understand it, the only reason why they oppose such move by our government is clear, the opposition seems to think that they should oppose evry thing done by the rulling government. sensless opposition which doesnt take ethiopia's national interest is doomed to fail, thats one of the reasons the oppositon groups lost support on various occasions, ethiopians have lost hope in the opposition groups.
As an Ethiopian I support the flow foreign direct Investment (FDI) to Ethiopia.

Its as a result of FDI and expansion of services, increase of agricultural out puts and beginning of industrialisation our country begin to develop.

Right now Ethiopia has become the biggest economy in East Africa, its the third fastest economy in the world, who thought Ethiopia will develop in such a pace. The EPRDF has transformed our economy from being bunkrupt in 1991 to being a vibrant and fastest growing economy in the world. All this is achieved as a result of conducive environment created by the Government, Ethiopia has an investment friendly policy, the flow of FDI will continue for years to come and we will soon be a middle income country.

The opposition groups hosted by Eritrea and the toxic diaspora will continue to shade their crocodile tears, we should all join hands and protect the peace and stability from ant-peace elements. They have now started to dream of colour revolutions, rose,orange,jasmine, etc, Our government should have a zero tolerance policy to those who intend to import chaos and mysery in our country. These evils want to see the image of ethiopia and its rulling party destroyed, they wouldnt leave any stone unturned to achieve their goals. to that effect they may use to use the democratic atmosphere in our country to promote hate and prejudice.

Together we can defeat these forces of evil in the manner we destroyed their spiritual mentor Mengistu and its regime.

Our support to the EPRDF will continue, together we will lift ethiopia out of poverty.
01/30/11 @ 05:14
Comment from: Sodo [Visitor]

Fellow Ethiopian!!!

Is there anything more humiliating for the real Ethiopian than being manhandled by a Little malnourished getata Tgre?
01/30/11 @ 08:06
Comment from: Sodo [Visitor]
Did you know that Tgres are complaining that Banda Zenawi is not doing more for them?
01/30/11 @ 08:14
Comment from: sentayehu1221 [Visitor]
*****

afarman,
nobody from your thieves regime ask for public consultation regarding the investment in our country. your thieves regime fabricated these colored copies investors.
all the money paid by your foriegn costumer pocketed by your thieves regime while millions of Ethiopians died in hunger.
FUCK YOU! afarman!
01/30/11 @ 08:49
Comment from: Wedi Ere [Visitor]
hey ! Land locked and now brain locked people why don't you let Eritrea alone.You have so many problem in your country,however we Eritreans have one ..we are not divided along ethnic, religion, territories etc.We need a democratical eritrea which one day we will get it..your one day is so far no one could see this one day. I'm sure , even one day if snow fall in Ethiopia you would blame for that Eritrea like the weak Arabs, blame Israel for their weakness.Soon, we will be the first country in the black continent who can feed our selves with out the help of others.We will bulid a country which can not be overthrown with a dozen of French legion like some African countries, a country never get order from Washington , London or Paris .A generation full of proud and vision.Our Gold and oil will be for the benefit of our people not for greddy business men from the west, TIme will show us till then your hate and jelous will kill you ..you may not see our achievment
01/30/11 @ 09:34
Comment from: Walta [Visitor]
FYI, does anyone knows that Melese is half Hamasene and half Gojame. Zenawi Asrese is half Hamasene and half Gogame even his grandfather was half Hamasene and Gojame as well. Melese grew up in Adwa and went to Nigist Saba elementry school and went to Addis to Wingate School, but he don't have link with being from Adwa.
01/30/11 @ 09:39
Comment from: Death to Weyane [Visitor]
*****
Good comment Alex!
01/30/11 @ 09:42
Comment from: Agamino [Visitor] Email
Ali ...

shabia or neftegna? actually it does not matter.


wake up.
Do not just keep dreaming.

To get some thing you need to work hard not Dreaming/hallucinating.

sint kebatari ale!

01/30/11 @ 10:02
Comment from: Next call [Visitor]
According to various resources ( CIA world Facts etc) only 10 to 15% of ethiopian land is actually being cultivated. As a matter of fact about 40 percent of ethiopia's land is used for cattle grazing. For general information, the total land of the Nation is close to a million square killo meter. Out of which about 100000 sq km comprises of water. This means about as much land as filled by water is utilized in growing actual food . ( source 2011 CIA World Fact). we utilize about as much land as is under water for growing cereals. Something is wrong here. In countries like Israel so called ' dry agriculture' uses water from the atmosphere and the plants. The problem with Ethiopia is that no serious investor will risk his money to invest in such volatile places like Gambela or Benishagul where there is numerous logisitical problems. As most of the land being given away is next to South Sudan where there has been insurrection costing millions of lives, there is no gurantee for any investor that he will recoup his investment let alone profit from it. So, if the Ethiopian govt is doing its utmost to lease land at a very low cost, i dont blame it. The investors are taking too many risks investing in heavilly armed region of the Coutnry. The remotness of the region is another factor in determining the lease value of the land too. As for the United States, they have been aware of our agro potential for decades. Rumors have it that some of the most productive cereal production are the result of american research in Ethiopia. They considered us a competition and the source of their vital seed bank and they chose to satisfy the demands of the Midwestern Farmers to furbish us with emergency food aid than give us tope notch seed from Monsanto, Piooneer Archer Midlands at a fraction of the cost.Now the Inidans have come to invest their billions, they are shedding crocodile tears. Let the Nigerian ex President buy the same acreage the british embasssy issitting in the middle of Addis. This land is meant for hotel and tourism and i see no problem. Having the Djibouti President on our side by giving him some land is ok with me too for it is not that big. Speaking about land, the US govt will give any immigrant land in South Dakota or North Dakota free of charge. Folks investing in Ethiopian Low lands might have good opportunity but also be exposed to Malaria. Save for the arctic chill, farmers in the Dakota might even be subject to the massive farm subisidy which the the US gives to its farmers, no question asked. Ethiopian farmers, as is written all over, only utilize as much land as is filled by fresh water (lakes and rivers). Is there something wrong with those wikleaking and trying to turn the world upside down since Mr Obama took helm at the White House? thanks to these racists who are beserk at the fact that a black man is actually leading the Nation, all sort of leaks are popping up. It is my sincere belief that Wikilieak is nothing but a smear campaign to discredit the White House with a Black Man in charge. I cannt imagine that so much classiffied information when there sre so many ways of incripting and deciphering are being released day in and day out . I am more inclined to believe that they do have coded message or ulterior motif ie turn the World upside down and blame it on you know who.

There is problem with the pricing of the land lease in Ethiopia, no doubt. But what is the alternative? letting the land sit idle for another hundreds of years? at least the major company undertaking investment in Gambela to the tune of 300000 hectares is the same one which is the biggest supplier of fresh cut flowers. Let them develop the land, and we will see how far their customers will feel when they find out that the roses they give their beloved were produced by those who were growing cereals and shipping it elsewhere while the indigenous Ethiopians were going hungry. I guarantee you Khartouri, is in for a big surprise if it ever were to act in such irresponsible manner. ( i have talked to a couple of marketing pros about this and trust me image is very important and a simple boycott can bankrupt the company). This latest wikleak is just beginning for according to published reports the Mad Man Assange has only released 1% of this combustible material. We shouldn be ready for more reckless comments by irresponsible diplomats ( i will think most are fired or even jailed)/ Loose lips sink ships!
01/30/11 @ 10:33
Comment from: Thee X [Visitor]
The scarcity of resource and row materials in europe created the colonialzem of most African ppl . Just like the past world I'd looking for more resource to feed there own ppl . Climate change & and greedy 1st worlds are destroying ther enviroments and start looking for a place to farm to Feed there own all over the 3 rd world has more consquences then the colonialism in the past . Today ignorant African govt is calling every body with money to lease there fertile land to get out of poverty and get money for them self is like inviting to be reconlized . Most of those African dictaters are short in vision . They are trying to solve there short term problem with out knowing the long term effect they are creating aganist ther own poor ppl and there enviroment is very scary move . It is good to look the other way around may be like supplying food to the world which is farmed by there own ppl . It is a good income to get out poverty then geting rapid for ever .
01/30/11 @ 10:34
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]
*****
Reply to 'one'

Your logic seems to fail again to make me understand what do you mean. The rule by majority does not mean the minority must have to accept the majority's way of living. Both the young and the aged have the right to contribute to the future of Ethiopia. Have you ever heard the term 'holistic' we are different part of the a wholesome without one, the other will malfunction.

for example take a car. it would be a with all its features. motor/egine, tires, windscreen and steering and so on needless to mention all of them here. We can not say that one part is important than the other. But it part has its own function. Some of them would have job to do than the other. However, all of them are doing their part. Although it is not good to describe human relationship with something that does not have life, this is to clearly point out to 'one' making youth only as the one components of the revolution in Ethiopia. All the section of the society would have something to contribute. I am afraid tomorrow 'one' would tell us people with disability would not have anything to do with their right because they are minority. They should accept the majority rule. This is not the essence of democracy and I recommend you do some reading before you start writing. I recognise the fact that little knowledge is very dangerous and most young people due to the amount of life experience they have would limit they capability. The young, I acknowledge, has important function to play in the achievement of sustainable political outcome.

Obama campaign was cited by you as an important example the youth can be beneficial to make a change. However, do not forget these youngster could not achieve these unless the middle aged the old have not contributed.
01/30/11 @ 10:51
Comment from: Haqii [Visitor]
wedi eri, you are not divided in ethnic and religious line? really? so, every ethic group in Eritrea has converted to Christian hamasien? wow, you guys are miracle doers. That was what we thought about your role-model the Somalians.
01/30/11 @ 11:49
Comment from: warya@5 [Visitor]
Afarman & Next Call
I totally believe it is economically wise to lease the unused vast land of Ethiopia. The Western investors will not take the high risk.We have accept anyone with cash.
During King H Selase there were foreign and local investors who had large agricultural farms in the South and around Awash River. I remember we were blaming the King that our land was sold to the wealthy and foreigners. I clearly remember how in Awash valley the land was returned to the Afar people early Derg time. How about the Ethiopian owned plantains which were nationalised?
Can any one explain to me the difference between these investors and those ones.
01/30/11 @ 12:08
Comment from: DownSize [Visitor]
This article is not about Eritrea.

This article is not about Eritrea.

This article is not about Eritrea

Some of you writing about Eritrea here are have no idea what going on in Ethiopia or understand the article content. Please read and understand before you jump to write your opinon.

Let me summerize this article for morons.

Ethiopia is invaded by Land grabers.

Ethiopia
01/30/11 @ 12:47
Comment from: TO: AFARMAN [Visitor]
right now is where there are more hungry Ethiopians then ever before, unemployed and majority living under a $1 a day and you speak of development? too many poor people are suffering and this is the reality.
01/30/11 @ 13:34
Comment from: Garii [Visitor]
The southern people who`s land is sold should learn lesson from Afar men who teach Alhamudi in 1994 when he try to grab their land for cotten plantation.One match has done its job.One day the Gambella and Benshangul sky will make good fire work.
Unless we act crying 24/7 does not bering anything.
01/30/11 @ 13:50
Comment from: bex [Visitor]
Dear all Our land is gone to forigners our indignity is gone to manority Tigray we live in fear to speak out what is going on in Ethiopia no press freedom no demonstration alowed just a 2weeks ago we start chant anti government at art kilo then what happen next guess a lot of wayane bogus student are Gov. Securitys and we lost our friends they never come back to uni, we need help from disboras. Thank u.
01/30/11 @ 13:56
Comment from: seifu [Visitor]
The tigraian will pay big price. no ethiopian will trust tigrain after weyane agazzi baby killer

we ethiopian will get you soon
TPLF/Weyane will go down soon.
6 feet under.
long live ethiopia
death to tplf/weyane

01/30/11 @ 14:10
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]


TO ALL MY PEOPLE OF ETHIOPIA


What are you waiting for?

Ethiopians, you lost your land, your, house, the member of your family, your dignity, your right, your freedom, your wealth, your hope and future under the current ethnocentric BANDA MELES REGIME.

Take the momentum from Tunis, Egypt and Yemen. The power is in your hand.

Tunisia throw away 23 years of tyrant in THREE DAYS. Egypt is in its SIX DAYS and the end of 30 years Mubarak is on the table.

Meles is different and EASY TO THROW because he alienated and abused the whole majority of Ethiopians unlike Tunisia and Egypt.

Once you stand there is no way for Meles to go but DOWN!!!!!.
01/30/11 @ 14:21
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
This article is specifically taking about the Land Grab deal Banda Meles is making with Foreigners . Ethiopia is all for Sale. Not about Eritrea.

Making Ethiopians landless, powerless, poor and owned by Foreigners.

It is blood boiling, enraging and make you ready to fight and die for our country.

The person that looks like you is selling your country to foreigners in a fast pace for his quick buck and power.

Who ever is talking about Eritrea is a Woyane greedy thug trying to divert attention.
01/30/11 @ 14:34
Comment from: Imperial Body Guard [Visitor]
Self-sufficiency for Ethiopia must be the common goal for all agricultural produce alongside proper land administration respecting the declaration made by the Emperor,"For those of you who possess the land and labour but lack capital, We have made credit available at low interest. For those of you who have the necessary capital but do not possess land to work on, We have, in accordance with Our proclamation which entitled every Ethiopian to ownership of land, established offices in every province through which you may be able to acquire land. Those who have neither land nor money will be granted land and a financial loan at low interest. For those of you who possess land, who have financial resources and manpower, We have made experts available to furnish you with the necessary guidance and advice in your undertakings." Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, page 486
"Ethiopia cannot, as some would suggest, look to industry for these funds. Without agricultural expansion, industrial growth is impossible.. Great strides, it is true, have been made in introducing industries into Ethiopia in recent years. But in any less-developed agrarian country, possessing only limited possibilities for selling the products of its factories in the world export markets, industry can grow only if there exists an increasingly prosperous rural consumer population. Industrialization is not an alternative to the development of agriculture; rather, the development of agriculture is the essential pre-condition to the growth of industry.
The fundamental obstacle to the realization of the full measure of Ethiopia's agricultural potential has been, simply stated lack of security in the land. The fruits of the farmer's labour must be enjoyed by him whose toil has produced the crop." Selected speeches of HIM Negus Haile Selassie I, pages 492-3
The neo-colonial regime of ethnic federalism claims to own all rural land holdings, depriving Ethiopian families of their right to a gasha of freehold land given to them from the Emperor. The corrupt oppressive regime keeps begging for food aid and restricting exports for Ethiopians other than themselves and their alien puppets.
"Every structure must be built on a solid foundation, for those constructed otherwise would soon collapse. The proclamation by which We made land grants to the entire Ethiopian people is the foundation of this scheme." Selected Speeches of HIM Negus Haile Selassie I, page 487
Long Live the Constitutional Monarchy!
Long Live the Kebra Negast!
Long Live the Charter of the United Nations!
Fire burn down the satanic star of secession
Rise with the Lion of Judah!
Gasha for Ethiopians!
Long Live Independent Ethiopia!
01/30/11 @ 14:41
Comment from: one [Visitor]
Tulu Proud ET,

we include Eritrea because stinking eritreans slaves are advocating chaos in ethiopia by pretending to be ethiopians and using ahmara and oromo names but their stench gives them away. the smell is too potent not to notice. by the way i am an oromo and not tigray. also tigray and eritreans are the same cancer which must be eliminated all together. so if you want people not to mention eritrean then tell your stinking tigray people to leave ethiopian website and go to their own. true ethiopian will not wish what is happening in Egypt to happen in ethiopia. how come you don't wish this to happen in Eritrea but only in ethiopia. you think we ethiopians do not know about your situation. how isayas jails christians, how he is persecuting afars, and the young are running like cacaroches when the light comes on.... think again. we ethiopians know eritreans pretend isayas is good and want change in ethiopia. GET OUT OF OUR WEBSITE OR WE WILL INCLUDE ERITREANS WHEN EVER WE SMELL THEM. OROMO UNITE AND KILL ALL TIGRAYS AND ERITREANS. DEATH TO ERITREANS. OROMO PRIDE.
01/30/11 @ 15:19
Comment from: Sam [Visitor]
What benefit Ethiopia will get from investors who are grabbing Ethiopian land? The land contract was reported to be 99 years, give or take. So far every country which invested in Ethiopian agricultre made it known their harvest will be shipped out to their country in its entirety. Even if they would be willing to sell some of their product to Ethiopia who will decide the market price? The Saudi billionaires or the Ethiopian government? It is a truth in any transaction the seller sets the price. What is EPDRF trying to tell us? Our farmers are lazy, and we need the hard working Saudis to till our land. That might not be. EPDRF might say the Saudis and the other countries had the mechanized farming to produce more, which Ethiopian peasants could not have the resources or the knowlege to apply? Let us agree with that assumption. Then the peasants will be turned to be daily laborers to their new masters, who by the way is worth remembering are not even the natives of their country. Mechanization though overtime will reduce the number of labor because more job will be done with machine. The more machines are updated, less labor is needed. Now, here is the dillema. The Gambela peasants who relinquished their land to the Saudi billionaires, with no choice of their own, will find themselves after a few years even their labor might not be nedded in great number after all. What should they do? Well, they might have an option to immigrate to big cities. The problem is in the big cities no one is creating jobs. Neatrly 70 percent of the young is unemployed, and there is no the slightest indication that will change. So I ask again what will we Ethiopians will benefit from the selling of our land? I do not see any. Let us entertain another theory. Does the government politicians and some businesses with close connection with the government might see money changing hands in the Ethiopian land auction? You might call me very skeptical. But I am not calling myself as you do. I see here a business transaction in the making that EPDRF thought the party and its politician to be beneficiary. In that sense they might not be wrong. But it is bad for Ethiopia. These guys will be busy selling Ethiopia's land until they run out of land to sell. In the meantime millions of former Ethiopian peasants will march to the city and over populate the side walk of many big cities, especially Addis.
01/30/11 @ 16:31
Comment from: Ethiopians unite now and remove Tires from Power for ever! [Visitor]
When Tigres see "uncultivated" land, they think it is free land they can sell to anyone they like. In fact the land is used as grass land. Oromia is no.1 in Africa for cattle and milk production, without which children would die of malnutrition!Tigres exchange our fertile land for "milk powder" from foreign lands. Or they use it for flower and biodiesel production by european and arab countries. What primitive folks are these? Ethiopians must unite and eliminate these people from their country now. They are no better than wild animals....
01/30/11 @ 16:42
Comment from: Magarsa [Visitor]
Seifu and others, we accept your call!

Ethiopians, forget minor ethnic diffences and unite on the one most important issue: get rid of woyanes from 4 kilo. Once this is done, we freely elect our leaders. There will be 100 % freedom of expression for all, without fear or intimidation. We will fill the streets of Adisaba untill we have done this. All land sells other contracts signed by woyanes in our name should be reversed, immediately after the regime falls.

United we stand divided we fall!
01/30/11 @ 16:54
Comment from: Gezaee H. [Visitor]

Ethiopian National disobedience guide lines:


1. Please Ethiopians free yourself from any ethnic politics. Please if you have such attitude do not join the national disobedience .

2. We want a change that brings peace, harmony, prosperity to all Ethiopian inccluding Eritrean.

3. Please all human being need bread, cloth, air, water, housing, clothing. There is no any ethnic or race, or colur which needs to be treated specially.

4. We want to bring a change in Ethiopia where the limit of prosperity of a person is only her or his ability, not the person's religion, or ethnic or race or colour. The limit of any human being to prosper must his or her ability.

5. We want a civil and elected leader who live and lead under strong law. We have had enough despotics for far. We need good leaders who motivate citizens.


6. The soul of all human being has no race, colour, ethnic, ethnic region, or ethnic country.

7. I do not want to have permission to live in any part of my country since it my country.

We want to destroy the ethnic wall built in our country for oppression and subjugation of people.

9. Please avoid discriminating people in any form. Changing is not only changing the leaders. We also have to change the way we treat each other.

10. Lessons from Tunisia, Egypt, the people are not fighting among themselves. They are fighting for one common goal. Please have a goal. Please avoid any ethnic name calling. The change must give freedom and peace to everyone.

11. Stay in houses and demand Meles to leave office and hand power to a civil leader.


12. No violence, no killing, no burning anything and that is why we are saying people must protest by staying in their houses and bring the country into stand still. Let the streets of addis Ababa a desert for one day and we will see Meles what he will do.

13. People will go only outside in a violent manner if Meles refuse to hand power to a civil leader.


14. Please be civilized and respectful to any human form that has breath. Please do not discriminate any human in any form. Even the criminals has to be justice in the court room , no violence killing.
01/30/11 @ 16:55
Comment from: Gelmo Kurra [Visitor]
Meles, finally came out with his true self and sowed he is really the enemy of Ethiopia. He knows time is running away for him,therefore has to sell everything in sight. It is a bold decission to sell the Ethiopian lands but he feels that the only sure way of amking sufficient money to support him and his expesive wife and children maybe even his grand children to live in wealth and riches. After all that is the way Ethiopans made money by selling their lands. But not insuch vast amounts to complete foreigners. It was done with some foreigners in Addis Abeba with special permision from the Emperor. Now Emperor Meles himself is selling the land and making the mony he needs. What annoys me is that Meles argues that he is selling the lands to fight un employment, and that the land was not used before. Number one the farmers using the land were never known as an employed. Second Ethiopians anever thougfht their land was not used sometimes it is not ither times it is usedin turn. other timed the lsnd was using for grazing. Ethiopians fought all their life time to preserve these lands because it was the evidence for theit freedom. For being Ethiopians.
"you stupid fools" you willpay for this with your life.
You trcked us once you cannot tick us always.myz
01/30/11 @ 18:35
Comment from: MENTIKO [Visitor]
ali slow down.
01/30/11 @ 19:46
Comment from: Rule of Law [Visitor]
Abdisaa Agaa

"The moment Eritrea makes peace withe Ethiopia, it is the beginning of the end for Ethiopia"

You got it right!!

They will start manufacturing counterfit money, bribe bank executives inorder to borrow money with which they will buy heavy duty transportation vehicles and ship them to Eritrea, they will take charge of the country's economy on Zenawi's blessing. The current no-war-no-peace situation is just perfect for Ethiopia.
01/30/11 @ 21:28
Comment from: msfn [Visitor]
The tables are turned now; blame the Diaspora for whatever misery the country is in. Do you know what percentage of the population depend entirely on remittance? Can you think of something positive about Diaspora?
01/30/11 @ 21:41
Comment from: Trurth [Visitor]
Since the world knows that Agazi army is made of only one ethnic group, any attack on civil disobedience participators in Ethiopia, should one happens to start now, would be considered genocide. In case some peoiple do not know that, Ethiopian news websiutes must publish this information and give it wide coverage so the ruling junta knows that they will be held responsible as criminals against huimanity. The moment anyone uses its ethnically based army to clamp down on others, it is apartied and it is nazism and it is genocidal. Tigreans should really think about this one and better stand at the right side of hisytory.
01/30/11 @ 22:26
Comment from: galaseres [Visitor]
Zinawians don't start doing anything and everything unless they primarly see the greatest benifit for themselves;the rest is seconday,and Ethiopians are the ones who get little or nothing.

Today,anything and everything that is available below and above the lands,in Ethiopia are owned,controlled,and run by Zinawians;whereas,Ethiopians are enduring imprisonment,exile,torture,murder,and grinding poverty.

The world talked about aggressive land grabbing by foreigners in Ethiopia,and Ethiopians are loosing huge farmlands to foreign marketers leaving their livelihood in greatest danger.On the surface it looks like simple,but under the whole deal,Ethiopians are the losers,and Zinawians are the greatest beneficiaries because they made every deal for themsleves and keept evey detail out of the reach of Ethiopians.It is infact,a secret deal.

When Zinawians came into Ethiopia,they were barefoot,but had lots of guns and bullets to loot and murder Ethiopians.Time favored them and invaded Ethiopia;they then quickly moved into towns,villages,cities and neighbourhoods,broke into homes and vandalized the lives of the families.

Today,Zinawians buy and sell;they buy weapons and guns to keep suppressed and oppressed Ethiopians;they buy business worth of millions of dollars and invest in stock markets and megacoorporations abroad;they sell farmlands and babies in bulk.One single man,Meles Zinawi has accumelated a wooping,1.2 billion euro in stolen money;Madame crimelady,Azeb Golla Mesfin is extravangant,wild,and nibbling bug is another multimillonaire.

What had been hppening in Ethiopia had had happened in Tunisia;what happened in Tunisia will definitely happen in Ethiopia.What has happened in Tunisia is happening in Egypt,will happen in Ethiopia.The wives of all the dictators,in Tunisia,in Egypt,and in Ethiopia as lethal as their monster husbands;they all consume bloodmoney.

It is the same with distruction of the lives of Ethiopians that dictators in Tunisia and Egypt did to their people.In Ethiopia,the children of Ethiopia are poor,sick,and homeless;they never,never had hot meal;not even a spoon of milk;wheras,the children of Madame Azeb Golla Mesfin,at 22,they have access to millions of dollars stolen from poor Ethiopians and kept in varietes of bank account spreading accross and all over the world,and are armed and dangerious.

Cheer up Ethiopians! The people of Tunisia have removed the suckers without guns and bulletes;so will the people of Egypt;for sure,Ethiopians will do more than what the people of Tunisia and Egypt are doing.Ethiopians will scrape the suckers to without any trace;indeed,victory will go to Ethiopians.

01/30/11 @ 22:39
Comment from: George [Visitor]
***--
What we have is a fertile virgin land to which we held for thousands of generations while these generations lived in the dark, poverty and backwardness. That is to say without schools, clinics/hospitals, electicity, infrastructure etc. What are you saying people, should the state of Ethiopia ever change and Ethiopians live in darkness for centuries again? Listen, you all know that no one would like to invest unless one is going to make a profit from his/her investment. Then why do you think these outsiders rushing to the country? why didn't they go somewhere else? Simply because conditions are conducive for them in Ethiopia and they are sure they will make dividens, and most importantly it is because Ethiopia has become a country of law and order promoting its democracy to its economy etc. So you people who bitterly object to the lease of land in opinion are wrong. You dwell too much in ethnic hate and you do not have a poistive spritit about your self and your country. I think that is very sad. Me as one of the diaspora when I hear things that are positive about my country of origin my heart explodes with pleasure. When hear and listen to negative news and views like that of yours my heart is broken at your cynisim and my tears almost role down across my chicks. I have got a message for Eritreans (98% of them): you rejected your roots because of the unexpected lapse in the history of Bahir Negash that is Italian colonialism when it was proven to our king at that time it was beyond the means of his country to liberate the Bahir Negash part of his country. Now until the like of Iassais pass away from the world the unity of Bahir Negash appears to be remote. But I have a dream that we will be one again one day because we are one in blood and in spirit. The current government is not to be blamed for your separation, it is your will and desire that separated you from your mother country. Sadly the naked reality for the Eritrean people is that separation did not enterpret in any thing positive they dreamt before that sad event of separation.

Hey, I was interested to read about the PM's origins by one of you above. I wonder is that why he has an exceptional talent in Amharic? For me he is the top man of the day. He genius and sinecere with his dealing about Ethiopia. Those of you who hate him in my opinion are dishonest, hateful and less intelligent. If you are ambitious to lead the country in the near future, I do not see it happening so soon. The EPRDF will continue to govern the country for years to come.

God Bless Ethiopia and keep her from the chaos and havoc some of you wish to create.
01/30/11 @ 22:42
Comment from: Gezaee H. [Visitor]

George , u must a naive.

The fact that you dared to defend selling land to foreigners as a positive thing, you must be a headless naive TPLF cadres who does not know right and wrong.

You cadres also said Ethiopia has to be land-locked and it is not you who is paying the bill , it is the people.

You dammmit soulless Luwach, yeteliyan kitregnoch, you will be gone soon. We cannot afford anymore to argue with headless bandas.

Hell to bandas.

Ethiopians rise up and chase the Arab Amouldi and the banda Meles in 24 hours.

The headless cadres will never understand anything. All negative is positive for them.

The solution is to get rid them of the country like in the rest of the nations.

They even dare to argue as a good thing.

Fiasco head, headless Meles TPLF cadres.

Do not talk with Satanic people. They ear deaf and covered by ignorance. They are selling everything.

It is time to humiliate them by national disobedience.

Down to TPLF Meles.
01/30/11 @ 23:07
Comment from: ethiopiawe [Visitor]
Here we go again you the people complain about the land, it was there for centuries no body knows how to use it and miliones of people were starving the world was laughing at us because of bad administration and hangry for power now finally, we got the smart leadershiop start useing the water, land , torisim,you name it ok. And that bothers you because you know you will never get it back the stupid power of your dad and grand dad.









Here we go again some sick politicians are awak when they see Ethiopia start use its natural resourcess to feed its peopel all they think is just how to get back the power ,sorry to let you have to work like anybody else ethiopia is for all, not only for cirtain or few ethnic people. The land, water,minning,and many natural resources was there for millione years but no brain can use it but now many people come with full of knowlege and conciuos and determin vesion to the future to use the natural resources.








01/30/11 @ 23:44
Comment from: Meles Zenawi is WANTED [Visitor]
*****
Wikileaks is hijaked, there is no info coming out of indicting Weyane leader. All this is something we already know. We want more info on Meles in the Ethiopian election, we also want info on Somalia invasion, we want more on Meles. We have read more than enough on Eritrea's leader, we want more on Meles.
01/31/11 @ 00:45
Comment from: john john [Visitor]
There is nothing wrong leasing land to inventor for farms i really don't care where they sell their product as long us they get better profit and stay in buissnes thats what count.
01/31/11 @ 00:48
Comment from: kul [Visitor]
*****
Woyane meticulously copied China’s technique of internet propaganda. The Chinese created what is known as “the 50 Cent Army” of cyber warriors who infiltrate Internet forums to propagate the interest of the ruling party in China. Similarly, EPRDF recruited several paid online woyane defenders like Addis Zemen, Yeha, Baymero, Teshome, etc whose main job is to comment belligerently on any genuine criticism of EPRDF. They unconditionally support anything EPRDF does even if the act involves killing innocent people. They denounce any one who tries to criticize woyane.
01/31/11 @ 10:47
Comment from: oromo [Visitor]
Gezaee H,
you are advocating struggle for your ahmara power hunger. well if you include oromos in the struggle, we want to sit down and negotiate. here is our demand.
1) after the struggle oromo will be free from ahmara. we will deport all ahmaras and you guys can do the same deport all oromos to oromia.
2)we will take 60% of ethiopian money converted into U.S. dollar since most export comes from Oromia for the last 1000 years.
3)no ahmara will be allowed in Oromia, you can create your own policy.
3)no relationship will be created between oromia and Ahmaria.
if you want to stay together here is our demand.
1)all power will be given to Oromos.
2)ahmaras will need to work for at least one year as slaves to oromos for 100 years of pay back.
3)Ahmara girls will have to merry oromo man, oromo girls don't have to merry ahmara man.
4)Ahmara's will be second class citizen for one year to see how it feels.
5)Tigrays are not included because they are not welcomed in Oromia and no negotiation with them.

Ahmara always want to be in power, Tigray always want to be in power,
oromo never been in power and we want our turn. no more ahmara and Tigray rule. Oromo shall be free.
01/31/11 @ 11:45
Comment from: kill.terrorist [Visitor]
So? what is the big secret / Cultivation is a crime? So many funny comments like sodo /saddo. Grow up.
01/31/11 @ 11:58
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
one
Tigrea parasites will come and defend what ever is coming from Meles because they are the beneficiaries and they don’t care about any other Ethiopian. So their argument is dead on arrival.


If you care and call yourself an Ethiopian you should be disturbed by the Land Grab scheme of Banda Meles and his Tigrea cohunes. Oromos, Afars and south Ethiopians land is being sold to Foreigners for quick money for Tigreas.

Banda Meles and Tigrea are damaging Ethiopia by far than Eritrea. FYI Meles is giving Eritreans Ethiopian Lassie Passé and they are roaming around freely in Ethiopia.

If Meles is removed quickly the whole situation is solved. Ethiopians and all its people can coexist peacefully with each other.

The best thing for Ethiopia is to take the momentum from Tunisia and Egypt and put pressure on Meles and his repressive cadres to leave power.

If you are an Oromo then be wise and get along with Amaras whom our people commingled and lived peacefully for centuries. We did not mix with Tigres. That is the best way to show Meles the exit.
01/31/11 @ 12:06
Comment from: Gelmo Kurra [Visitor]
Sometimes I wonder why some people write stupid things as comment. Remember you are gettimg nothing for writing comments therefpre please don't bother to write nonsense. Leave it to those people who have something to say. Keep your stupidity for yourself.
01/31/11 @ 18:13
Comment from: biya [Visitor]
one

If you don't mind write your comments in small caps. Make it easy read. Have you ever seen a news paper written in capital letters?? If ppl want to read what you write , then write it in small caps.
01/31/11 @ 19:04
Comment from: daniel [Visitor]
Ethiopia land sell to foreigners very sad so don't mixed with eritrea.eritrea is not ethiopia sorry
01/31/11 @ 21:02
Comment from: Sawa4Life [Visitor]
*****
Alex

you are one losser @game, the only Eritrean dispised by all ethiopians is your Meles Zenawi, the rest real Eritreans are about to build chaines wall to separate us forever.

All the purpose of woyanes here in this website is to go outside the topic issue and talk about their former boss Eritreans, to divert the current issue.

I can tell most woyanes feel contempt about Ertitrans, and warn others about oppositions being the puppet of Eritrea, as if TPLF never recieved formall training from EPLF.Lol

Anyway Eritrea like you heard it on the news got Oil, Petrol, Gas, Gold, Copper and many many more, their is 0% interest with you ppl even in thousand years, I personaly don't wish diplomatic or any relations with Ethiopia, I mean it, coz it's good for nothing.


01/31/11 @ 21:05
Comment from: sentayehu1221 [Visitor]

john john,
who gets profit?
who controls profit?
profit goes to?
who check these profits?
is there any non-eprdf control these profits?
ALL OF THESE PROFITS CONTROL AND ORCHESTRATED BY THE "Regime of Thieves"!
02/01/11 @ 07:47
Comment from: Taftafawalu [Visitor]
meles is exhausted;his regime is weakened;hodams are freaking.The revolution is coming!!

The reality is much more than what those pupies of meles say because when meles resigned from the post he held as a member of nepad,the sprinkled news was that he a had lot of things he would do beyond what he had been doing:- the reality is that his daily schedule is filled up with visiting doctors for the ailments that have been eating him off gradually yet aggressively.Chow! chow!

Ritht now,his brain is tied up with a lot of worries ranging from his debelatiting health to the coming revolution that whill awash him with the wet tide down to his eternal removal from the surface of Ethiopia.

Yes! the spies,the hodams,the hitmen,the informers and other reckless dependent of the system are frantically looking rabbit's holes here and there.Baka is baka;revolution is coming.
02/01/11 @ 08:46
Comment from: Danny [Visitor]
The sell of huge chunk of land to South Korea brought down the government of Madagascar, I hope the sell of land to Saudi Arabia, India etc by the bandit group TPLF will bring the downfall of TPLF/eprdf in Ethiopia.
02/01/11 @ 13:55
Comment from: oromo [Visitor]
Tulu Proud ET,

no working together with Ahmara. i don't know what language to use, if i can speak fake ahmaric or bird language tigra i will speak to you. but i only speak my language. no deal with Ahmara. go to hell with your king saliasa and tedrows. we are enemies ahmara and oromo. before you slave us and called us gala, now the tigray is kicking your ass you come to us as friends..lol. scary ahmara. go fight tigray by yourself and leave us alone. we want oromia for oromo people. no tigray, no ahmara, no somalia, no eritrea, just oromo people. if you don't understand this go to addiss and catch aids.
02/01/11 @ 16:41
Comment from: tekola [Visitor]
RE: Truth
you are 110% right.the Agazi ARMY created by Zenawi is a mercenary that
does not even speak the national language that is trained only to kill at command.any action taken by this trained killers should be a genocide but nothing else and their chief Zenawi have to be charged for any death caused by Agazi genocide troops.Why were agazi troop never send to Somalia? Zenawi have created
this troops only to murder fellow Ethiopians that what Zenawi have learned from Mengistus special forces that came from the same region that have no relation with other Ethiopians.WAKE-UP.
02/01/11 @ 22:28
Comment from: I_hate_Ehadig! [Visitor]
Oho!

READ THIS!!!

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/infrastructure/ethiopia-offers-india-farmland-for-investment/articleshow/7409920.cms

1.8 million hectares to Indian investors. What a hell is going on? You know how much it means if I am not mistaken?

1.8 million hectares = 134km x 134km

What? Yes it is. If we think it like a rectangle, it means it has length = Addis to Debre-berhan and width = Addis to Debre-berhan in the other direction.

Ethiopia has a total area of 1,127,127 square kilometers. The land on sale is about 18,000 square kilometers.

That is so funny.

02/02/11 @ 11:13
Comment from: Mengistu [Visitor]
Well every body says something but I never could to read a peaceful related coment. every body sugests getting into war. look the regim is not perfect. well do u know whats going on in USA the family and multi milioners who have rolled thise country even in England.and other euro countries. if u realy xare about these poor and indigent peopel do something. why bother em? dick heads
02/02/11 @ 12:11
Comment from: ewnet [Visitor]
*****
one, I like your analysis. It is wise and reasonable.
02/02/11 @ 12:27
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
oromo

You want to sound like and Oromo but I know you are not an Oromo but a banda TPLF.

You hope to divide us by injecting your self hated propaganda. Oromo and Amaras are the majority who married to each other and have given birth to millions and millions of children.

Your narrow minded ethnicity and hatred mounting on total fabrication has been dead long time ago. It is not working.

The #1 enemy of Ethiopia is people like you, tiny, tiny TPLF bandas. You will not keep selling our land and children. You will pay for it



Procedures:

12 comments:

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