7.5 million acres of fertile Ethiopian land to be leased away

The Oakland Institute has released a report titled (Mis)Investment in Agriculture: The Role of the International Finance Corporation in the Global Land Grab, which points out that more than 13 million Ethiopians are in need of food aid, “but paradoxically the government is offering at least 7.5 million acres of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world’s most wealthy individuals to export food back to their own countries.”

The 59-page report explains:

…the leasing of farmland has increased dramatically in Ethiopia the past three years. In what has been called Ethiopia’s great “land lease project”—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, three million 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 report quotes a journalist describing his experience in Awassa, southern Ethiopia:

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 1,500 foot rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimizes water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tons of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The 2,500 acres of land, which contains the Awassa greenhouses, are leased for 99 years to a Saudi billionaire businessman, Ethiopian-born Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world. His Saudi Star company plans to spend up to $2-billion acquiring and developing 1.25 million acres of land in Ethiopia in the next few years. So far, it has bought four farms and is already growing wheat, rice, vegetables and flowers for the Saudi market. It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.”

In a press release recently, the Oakland Institute stated:

leaked draft report from the World Bank, The Global Land Rush: Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits, challenges the publicly held position of the World Bank on investments in agricultural lands in poor nations – a trend that has come to be popularly known as land grabbing. Although such investments have been hailed by the World Bank as a way to generate jobs and infrastructure, the report states, “investors are targeting countries with weak laws, buying arable land on the cheap, and failing to deliver on promises of jobs and investments,” and in some cases inflict serious damage on the local resource base.

Read the whole report here.

21 comments on “7.5 million acres of fertile Ethiopian land to be leased away

  1. Anonymous on

    How sad!!…“It expects eventually to employ more than 10,000 people.”…. Ethiopians are going to work as slaves, treated as slaves and earn slave wages, without employee rights and benefits with Meles’s blessings and with his approval of the modern slavery in Ethiopia for hundred years. As they say, the proof is in the pudding — so far, I haven’t heard that Meles has sold or given any land to foreigners in Tigrea province — this is one the proof that, how much Meles is working to dismantle Ethiopia. Our land to be owned for up to hundred years, by wealthy countries and billionaires that can hire their own private army, is very wearisome and scary thought. The Ethiopian culture and traditions that we know, and love is going to be the thing of the past.

  2. Anonymous on

    The history of Ethiopia is defined by fighting against foreigners invading and attempting to take its land.

    Now it is being sold at “giveaway” prices.

    Absolutely disgusting!!

  3. It makes me feel sad but it is a bad but a necessary pill to swallow.
    They are selling idle land,the process will bring foreign capital(direct and indirect investment) and at least the government will get tax dollars,the poor will get poor paying jobs,surely the corrupt politicians will make very very big money(the initial payment is paid to the politicians before the near to free lease payment) for giving away the land Lets hope the politicians will invest the money in Ethiopia so that the poor will at least get the left over.

    The evil here is capitalism or big money.It will rush where ever it will get big time profit or wherever it finds the cheapest slaves.
    You have to attract big money to bring development but always at a price in this case land at a give away price and slaves(cheap labor).This is what China did in the 80’s they attracted big money
    by providing the lowest paid labor with no unions allowed(slaves).Then big money dismantled it’s factories in Ohio,Michigan…and rushed to China.The rest is history.Now that confidence is developed and the economy is in a good footing the Chines government is allowing unions and advocating for fair pay.

  4. Many of us are American Citizens of Ethiopian origin who are collaborating in attacking investments made by a Saudi Citizen of Ethiopian origin.

    Some of us including I wouldn’t risk a $100,000 of hard earned money in a farm or anything else for that matter in Ethiopia today. I for one prefer playing it safe for now.

    Having said that, what I don’t understand is what gives any of you the audacity to denounce Al Amoudi [an Ethiopian origin] for investing in his mother land Ethiopia?

    Forget the author’s or “journalist describing his experience in Awassa “; what is so bad about it? The fact is, no one has any right to get into Al Amoudi’s pocket; he can export or sale his investment, it is his decision. I sure want to have a similar right to do what ever I want with my earned money and investment. Wouldn’t you?

    On the same line of thought, lately, I have been curious about land lease in Ethiopia. Here is my 2 cents. If Karuturi (Indian investor) with an MBA from a US University can do it (300,000 hectares in Eth.) any one of us can. Right? At least I have a similar degree.  Joke aside, this is what I arrived to; I being from Addis and considering the present semi tense ethnic environment, I feel it will be unsafe for me to lease land in Gambela or somewhere in the East of Ethiopia because the locals are going to probably say a highlander is “land grabbing”. If several highlanders are feeling the same way; Meles and Co. must know that. Therefore, to jump start the needed investment in the country for now, foreign “land grabbers” are the necessary evil. The education we get from such investors like Karuturi is beneficial. Down the line, small investors like I would have easier time to go south, east of Ethiopia to invest without hesitation. What do you think?

  5. I think you’re sick & ofcourse looking for some ‘Gursha’.What’s wrong with developing an idling land & employing poor ethiopians to work in the big farms?

  6. Tizibt on

    It seems that some of us Ethiopians in the Diaspora have become morons. We seem to approve of what Meles is doing to our country – selling it off to foreigners and arabs – free for 5-6 years and then paying a pityful sum per year for large tracts of land. Now Meles has even ordered that no land should be sold to Ethiopians – which is to say that we don’t belong to Ethiopia – only the foreigners own Ethiopia. He must be getting billions of dollars in his personal coffers by now. What is more confounding is that the military in Ethiopia have been rendered toothless. They seem to be in a perpetual chat-induced stupor. They are going to wake up from their stupor one day and see that Ethiopia has been sold to foreigners. If only our forefathers were still around – they would have done away promptly with Meles and his “bandas” who are drunk with the blood of Ethiopians.

  7. This is a very critical issue. The tyrant is deliberately making decisions that have a longterm strategic impact on the country and its people. The diaspora seems to be inattentive to the issue. As the Ethiopian population is stifled and subdued, it is up to the Diaspora community to make its voice heard. The Diaspora must organize and make a very massive and thunderous demonstration protesting this blatant merchandising of the fertile lands of the country.

  8. The groups who are rushing to grab Ethiopian fertile land like a scavenger need to be warned that whatever deal they make in this regard is illegal and unwarranted. It is important that they get a decisive and serious message.

  9. Anonymous on

    This regime is selling ethiopian lands at basement price in order to develop “Large scale commercial farms”?! To whose benefit?

    These companies don’t pay tax, they don’t sell their product on the local market, there is no transfer of knowledge/technology because they are not obliged to get into partnership with local enterprises. At the end of the day what is left for Ethiopians? Some unskilled jobs paying miserable salaries?

    The most amazing part is that there doesn’t seem to be any check and balance on the modus operandi of these companies: what type of fertilizer they use, what kind of pesticide they apply, whether or not they are allowed to grow GMO, etc. As it stands, there is nothing that prevents them from permanently altering the ethiopian ecosystem.

    Forget about the fact this regime is stifling democracy & free speech, his reckless transaction of ethiopian lands is ENOUGH motivation to work on removing it urgently.

  10. ethiogirl on

    To Dawi @#6,

    really, seriously? i have a hard time believing that you actually believe this or if you are taking a piss.. well

    if you were joking..better if you put it in a cartoon it will save us time!
    if you were serious .. betam betam yezekete astesaseb biyewalehu… so you need foreigners to come and invest.. for you finally as a highlander to go and invest in Gambella? don’t you think this by itself has betam meseretawi dysfunctionality? you are supposed to make the locals or the primary residents want and need the investment.. you cannot force anything upon people.. if Gambella people don’t need any one to invest so be it.. first deal with the underlying problem why they are not cooperating.. then when you give them atleast some service..( do you know one of the woredas Akobo.. in Gambella is completely not accessible by road? you have to take a boat to get there) and you expect them to give up their land.. where they got nothing in return…why don’t you guys get it? For God’s sake what do you think the petrol people are dying in Somali region? where do you think separation questions arise from? inequality… lack of development.. remember weyane went to chacka.. because they believed their people weren’t treated good..so go figure.. same happened everywhere else now.. cause the ethnocentric gov of yours is disappointing everybody except their few chosen ones… nothing will work.. forget the investment.. until they drop their
    1. zergnanet
    2. corruption
    3. power abuse

    REMEMBER: its like a deja vous… everything Derg did to Weyane and the rest of Ethiopia; you are now repeating it to the oppositions and the Ethiopian people.. so guess what.. the Ethiopian people are the common denominator.. suffering either ways.. its sad sad sad.. till the day we get rid of you!!!!

  11. To me a tell-tell sign that Ethiopia as a state will not last long? So far what i heard is the land grabbers in non- Tigary and Amhara regions are wealthy men from Asia and middle East. How a puppet of western world is allowed to sell lands for potential adversaries?

    Meles ‘s handlers know well that ethnically federated Ethiopia will not last long. It is just a matter of time.

    All the agreement/ contracts made b/n Tigreans and Asians will not be valid in Oromia land. The ruling elites don’t feel Oromia as their own. This is not even a calculated move;they are the victim of psychological barrier erected in 1991 by themselves. By the way, that is how their handlers handle them, deny them Ethiopan nationalism.

  12. ethiogirl on

    @Lema #5,

    who says that we have to follow the Chinese model? here we go again another revolutionary democracy bullshit! but for the sake of discussion let’s say we followed the same model.. oh no we can’t we forgot right… the self destructive Meles .. worked against himself..without knowing it.. Chinese people who all in all believe in being Chinese.. don’t have separatists ( please don’t even mention Tibet its a minute area compared to main china, chinese might have been known for protesting in search of freedom of speech.. but they were never in history when they wanted to megenetatel)so in contrast our genius meri.. decided self destruction, and mistrust between nationalities will prolong his term.. but instead shortened it.. because the development model.. such as China won’t work with noncommittal population..development like that can only come where the people is on the same page with the government;there is no national feeling now.. thanks to Meles..forcing investors on communities will only shorten his lifetime.. not only in power.. probably literally his life.. as it would kill him to see the rule go to an administration who cares for Ethiopia!

  13. kitkit on

    Here is the facts:- Today, everything and anything that is available above and below the lands, in Ethiopia is owned, controlled, and run by Zinawians. Remember this, Zinawians will never do anything in Ethiopia, if, first and foremost does not benefit them. They are policy makers, they are deal makers, they are negotiators, and they sell lands and babies and little girls, and they imprison and kill people. They are both businessmen and evils. what they sell benefits them, but what they do really hearts Ethiopians.

    Well, it is their world; they turned Ethiopia into their own business empire.

  14. Look South Sudan- on the verge of independence! China’s fate in Sudan will soon be in the hand of Juba.

  15. What Meles Zenawi and Mohamed Al-Amoudi are doing to Ethiopia, a covenant country located in East Africa, is consistent with what is written in the books about Assyria*, the ancient country synonymous with anit-christ and Gog Magog. With all of their might, the Assyrians would want to change the holy country and the Creator would go for it because He is unhappy with his people. In the end though, a rollback is in order, and their dream will prove just a chemical induced fantasy.

    * It is evident that most Tigreans, Wolloyes and certain Showans are descended from Syria/Assyria as are three other tribes’ origion can equaly be traced back to Egypt.

    ሙያ ሲጋለጥ! (መልካም አዲስ ዓመት)

    ዳግማዊ ዳዊት

    ውዷ ባለቤቴ – እመይቴ ስንዱ

    አበደች ለየላት – አለሽ ሴቱ ወንዱ፤

    ዛሬ በአዲስ ዓመት – ዛሬ በበዓሉ

    ያቀረብሸው ድግስ – ምስክር ነው አሉ።

    ባንድነት ማቅረብን – ቀላቅሎ ድግስን

    ከትናንት ጀምሮ – ስናየው ሙያሽን

    አበደች ነው ያልኩኝ – አወከሽ ጤናሽን።

    ማ ይሙት! ባንድዬ! እንዲያው በየት አርጎ

    በአንድነት ይቀርባል – ጠላ ተልባና እርጎ?

    ምን አርገሽ ብትፈጭው – እንዴትስ ተቦክቶ

    በርበሬ ከስንዴ – ጤፉ ከቡና ጋር – በአንድ ተዘጋጅቶ

    ምን አይነት እንጀራ – ሊጋገር ነው ከቶ

    ማን ፊት ነው እሚቀርበው – ይህ የአንች አነባብሮ?

    እንጀራም አይመስል – በግዳጅ አንድ ሆኖ።

    ትናንትም በአንድነት – ዛሬም በአንድ ጋግረሽ

    ጤፍን በበርበሬ – መልክ ታሳጫለሽ

    ሙያሽ ወፈፌ እንጅ – ጤነኛ አላሰኘሽ!

    እባክሽ ተማሪ – ሙያ ከጎረቤት

    ባለፈው ካየሽው – ከእነማሚቴ ቤት

    ጤፉ እንጀራ ቢሆን – ለብቻው ተጋግሮ

    በርበሬ ወጥ ቢሆን – ክሽን ብሎ አምሮ

    ለብቻው በዓይነቱ – በመልኩ ተሠርቶ

    ሙያ እንዲያ ነው እሚያምር – የሚታይ ውበቱ

    አንድ ላይ በማብሰል – አያምርም ውጤቱ

    አንድነት አንድነት – አትበይ በከንቱ።

    መስከረም 2003 ዓ.ም.

  16. Edena Abebe on

    OMG!! The weyannes have dicided to sell the whole country to the highest bidder. May God bless our fredom fighters EPPF and help them take our country back!

  17. Jegnaw Ethiopiawe on

    they call it idle land what a lie. they call it idle cos it makes it easy to sell our land to foreigners.and i don’t know this 20 years back this foreign power were talking about the reconquest of Africa through this kind of land taking skim nothing new.
    but what it souled be new is as Ethiopians aer we gong stand a side lose our country pis bay pis? or are we going to fight this.the 1st fight it should be getting this cancer WOYANE out of power from our land before we can fight this forgoers….

  18. Tizibt on

    Ethiogirl @12 & 14
    You go girl! A little bit of education is good for the soul!
    Truth @13
    Where have you read that the land being sold to the land grabbers is only in “Oromia land”, unless you are informing us that you are also on the ‘ethnic’ bandwagon like Meles? Anyhow, Meles and his goons have been selling land from all over Ethiopia, except from Tigrai since 2005. By the way, to make the whole business lucrative for his blindly devoted goons, he has even authorized the bantustan Killil Admins. to negotiate their own land deals. For more information, pls. see: (http://www.ecofair-trade.org/pics/en/FDIs_Ethiopia_15_10_09_c.pdf).
    Since the piece by piece sale of our Country is so secretive, we can only get bits and pieces of news from foreign sources. We know what will happen to Ethiopian journalists if they dare breathe the dollar amount of any such sale! The Daily Nation (Kenya) has informed us that the “land grabbing” race is led by India, which has invested more than $2.5 billion during 2009 and has grown to $4.3 billion, which is about double the amount the West has given. In the same article the departing Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia assures us that it will reach 10 billion in a few years and believes even that is just the beginning.
    The Indian Managing Director Karuturi, in an interview to Radio France International, explaining the land grab in Ethiopia, said that over six of the last ten years, the world has eaten more than they produced and world food stocks are at the lowest they have ever been. Lucky them! Because my Ethiopian countrymen, women and children 5.2 million plus 8 million poor, who are regularly fed through the safety net program, have been going hungry during those six years and more!

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