Ethiopia: Country For Sale!


The Deal of the Century

Supposing someone offered you the following land deal, would you take it or walk away believing it is too good to be true?

For £150 a week (USD$245), you can lease more than 2,500 sq km (1,000 sq miles) of virgin, fertile land – an area the size of Dorset, England – for 50 years, plus generous tax breaks.

If you walked away from it, you would have lost out on “the deal of the century”, perhaps the millennium. If you think this is a joke or some sort of wild and crazy exaggeration, see this Guardian (U.K.) report and video on an incredible international land giveaway that is taking place in Gambella in Western Ethiopia and judge for yourself.

Ethiopia on the Chopping Block

The Indian agribusiness giant Karuturi Global is today the proud owner of 1,000 sq. miles of virgin Ethiopian land. Karuturi did not ask for the land and did not even see it when a signed 50-year “lease” was delivered to it on a golden platter in Bangalore, India by Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia. Karuturi Project Manager in Ethiopia Karmjeet Sekhon laughed euphorically as he explained what happened to Guardian reporter John Vidal:

We never saw the land. They gave it to us and we took it. Seriously, we did. We did not even see the land. (Triumphantly cackling laughter) They offered it. That’s all.

It’s very good land. It’s quite cheap. In fact it is very cheap. We have no land like this in India. There [India] you are lucky to get 1% of organic matter in the soil. Here it is more than 5%. We don’t need fertiliser or herbicides. There is absolutely nothing that will not grow on it. To start with there will be 20,000 hectares of oil palm, 15,000 hectares of sugar cane and 40,000 hectares of rice, edible oils and maize and cotton. We are building reservoirs, dykes, roads, towns of 15,000 people. This is phase one. In three years time we will have 300,000 hectares cultivated and maybe 60,000 workers. We could feed a nation here.

Ethiopia is on fire sale. Everybody is getting a piece of her. For next to nothing. The land vultures are swooping down on Gambella from all parts of the world. Zenawi proudly claims “36 countries including India, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have leased farm land.” The Guardian reported that “foreign investors” have snagged

1.1 million hectares in Gambella, nearly a quarter of its best farmland, and 896 companies have come to the region in the last three years…. This month [March 2011] the concessions are being worked at a breakneck pace, with giant tractors and heavy machinery clearing trees, draining swamps and ploughing the land in time to catch the next growing season. Forests across hundreds of square km are being clear-felled and burned to the dismay of locals and environmentalists concerned about the fate of the region’s rich wildlife.

Karuturi, “one of the world’s top 25 agri-businesses” plans to “export palm oil, sugar, rice and other foods from Gambella province to world markets.”

Villagization of Gambella and the Irony of History

To make way for Karuturi and the 896 investors, the people of Gambella must be removed permanently from their ancestral lands. Over the past three years, tens of thousands of villagers have been forced to move as part of a so-called villagization program. Zenawi’s agriculture official said “there is no movement of population” in Gambella. It is the “choice” of the people to move to “villagized” centers where they can get basic services. Once they move, the official said, “they have to abandon their previous way of life, and they can’t ever go back to their villages”. Simply stated, Zenawi has imposed a contract on the indigenous people of Gambella: They will “voluntarily” choose to give up their ancestral lands, their culture and their community in exchange for a clinic, a school and a road.

“Villagization” (sefera) has a sinister and ugly history in Ethiopia. In the iron fists of the military junta (Derg) that ruled Ethiopia from the mid-1970s until 1991, “villagization” was a political and tactical counter-insurgency weapon. The Derg “villagized” and “resettled” populations in rebel-controlled areas to deny local support to rebels and create buffer zones. The Derg, like Zenawi’s regime today, justified its “villagization” program as a “development” and humanitarian effort aimed at providing food, clean water, health and educational services to needy populations.

At the onset of the 1984 famine, the Derg sought to resettle 1.5 million people from insurgent-controlled and drought-affected northern regions to the south and southwest of the country. The Derg said the people were relocating voluntarily. The northern insurgents, who now wield power, told the Derg victims of resettlement  that they were being moved to concentration camps and will never return to the land where they were born (“where their umbilical cord was buried” to use the local metaphor in translation).  It is an irony of history that in 2011 we hear the same old story: The people of Gambella are “voluntarily” leaving their ancestral lands and abandoning their traditional way of life in exchange for  “clean water, health and educational services” in villagized centers.

The Derg never asked people (plebiscite) if they wanted to be resettled or remain on their ancestral land. Zenawi’s regime did not ask the indigenous people of Gambella if they want to be permanently uprooted from their ancestral lands and be “villagized” or corralled into reservations. The Derg could not have cared less about the people it was resettling as long as the resettlement policy advanced its counter-insurgency strategy. Zenawi could not care less about the indigenous people of Gambella as long it advanced his investment strategy. It is all about war or money. The Derg never did an environmental and human ecological impact study before it moved masses of people from the north to the southern part of the country.  Zenawi’s regime never did a credible ecological study before uprooting the indigenous people of Gambella. Tens of thousands of people died in the Derg’s resettlement program from illness and starvation. Families were separated as people fled the ill-equipped and ill-managed resettlement centers. But the indigenous people of Gambella face extinction as a minority in Ethiopian society. So says a 2006 UNICEF field study:

The deracination [uprooting from ancestral lands] of indigenous people that is evident in rural areas of Gambella is extreme. It is very likely that Anuak (and possibly other indigenous minorities) culture will completely disappear in the not-so-distant future. Cultural survival, autonomy, rights of self-determination and self-governance are all legitimate issues for these indigenous groups, and these are all enshrined by international covenants and United Nations bodies—but all are meaningless in Gambella today.

It is true that history repeats itself over and over again!

When the Derg implemented its “villagization” and “resettlement” programs in the 1980s as a counterinsurgency strategy, it was not only morally wrong, it was criminal. It is no different for Zenawi in 2011 to “villagize” the indigenous people of Gambella and give away their ancestral lands for free to foreign investors who did not even ask for it. If it was a crime against humanity for Derg leader Mengistu to depopulate the northern rebel-controlled regions as part of his counterinsurgency strategy, it is no less a crime against humanity for Zenawi to depopulate Gambella to make way for his “investments.”  Mengistu was convicted of genocide by Zenawi in substantial part for Mengistu’s use of “resettlement” and “villagization” as a tool of counterinsurgency. Mengistu never believed he would be held accountable; and today Zenawi similarly believes he will never be held accountable. But sometimes “justice is like a train that always arrives late.” Justice will soon arrive for the indigenous people of Gambella.

The Gambella Gambit

History shows that the indigenous people of Gambella have been neglected, discriminated and exploited over centuries of successive administrations in Ethiopia. But it was in December 2003 that the public rape of Gambella became known to the whole world. Before taking Gambella’s “best farmland”, they took the lives of hundreds of Gambella’s best and brightest over a three-day period that December. As Obang Metho, the tireless and tenacious young Ethiopian human rights advocate who was born in Gambella described it:

They targeted those individuals who were the voices of the community and have a say in the exploration and development of oil on their land. The killing squads went through Gambella town looking for the next Anuak to brutally kill, they chanted, ‘Today there will be no more Anuak.’ ‘Today there will be no more Anuak land.’ As they raped the women they said, ‘Today there will be no more Anuak babies.’ Within three days, 424 Anuak were dead.

When I received news, it was the darkest day of my life. My world was turned upside down. Among the 424 Anuak killed, I personally knew 317 of them. They were my family, my classmates and many others with whom I had been working to bring development not just to the Anuak, but to the region. Most were educated and outspoken. I have no doubts that I would have been one of the victims had I been living there at the time.

Genocide Watch described this massacre as a “major pogrom of terror and repression against the Anuak minority carried out by EPRDF soldiers and Highlander militias.” Human Rights Watch concluded: “Since late 2003, the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) has committed numerous human rights violations against Anuak communities in the Gambella region of southwestern Ethiopia that may amount to crimes against humanity.” The Anuak Justice Council reported “genocide and crimes against humanity have continued, raising the death toll between 1,500 and 2,500, and causing more than 50,000 Anuak to flee.”

Ethiopian Developers are Criminals, Indian Investors are Heroes?

A couple of weeks ago, Zenawi condemned Ethiopian developers who were transferring their leaseholds in  urban land in Addis Ababa as “land grabbers” and “speculators” who should be “locked up”. He said “developers were grabbing land that does not belong to them in any legal sense and misusing the land lease rights they were given for personal profit and speculation.”  In Zenawi’s eyes, Ethiopian developers are low-down, no good, two-bit cheaters, scammers and profiteers; but Indian investors who are given millions of hectares of the “best land” in the country without asking and for nothing are heroes and saviors.

But this is not about Ethiopian developers against Indian investors. It is not about the rights of local against international investors. It is about fairness and equity. It is about official wrongs and the human rights of some of the poorest, historically oppressed, discriminated and exploited indigenous minorities in Ethiopia. It is about a land giveaway of mind-boggling proportions to a foreign company to raise rice, edible oils, maize and cotton for export while millions of Ethiopians are starving and living on international food handouts. (In 2010, Ethiopia “received more than 700,000 tonnes of food and £1.8bn in aid, but has offered three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of virgin land to foreign corporations such as Karuturi.”) It is about making “land deals of the century” without accountability, transparency, public debate, discussion and, above all, the consent of the people who will be permanently displaced from their ancestral lands. It is about how a whole country became the personal investment property of one man and his syndicate!

Karuturi, Beware of Those Bearing Free Gifts

I will never forget the giddy, bearded-face of Karuturi Project Manager in Gambella, Karmjeet Sekhon, in the Guardian video giggling ecstatically and telling John Vidal about the free land his company got: “We never saw the land. They gave it to us and we took it. Seriously, we did. We did not even see the land. They offered it. That’s all.”

Sorry, Karuturi and Mr. Sekhon, “that is not all.” You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Of course, Karuturi is free to indulge in the proverbial fantasy about a free lunch, free money and free land. Just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as free land. After Karturi spends millions to clear the forest, bring in expensive agricultural equipment, build infrastructure and get the farms humming, it will find out “that’s not all”. Mr. Sekhon will wake up one fine Gambella morning and find out that the free land his company got without asking ain’t free after all. Karuturi will find out that it has failed to get this or that permit, or is in violation of this or that part of the 50-year lease. It did not build this school or that clinic, and the ones it built are not big enough or good enough. It will find out that it did not build this road or that town center the right way, and the ones it built are inadequate and more need to be built. Karuturi will suddenly find out that foreign investment law that gave them  millions of hectares of free land has been reinterpreted to mean whatever the free land-givers want it to mean, just like the urban land law was interpreted to mean that developers could be “locked up” for trying to transfer their leaseholds for profit or pay “hefty fines” to avoid jail time. In the end, Mr. Sekhon’s words will come back to haunt him and his company: “The hand that gaveth the free land is the hand that taketh away the fine, well-developed farmland!”

Karuturi and the rest of the “investors” have no idea how cunning, shrewd, tricky, wily and crafty the free land-givers are; and they do not learn from self-evident facts. Those who are handing out free land understand the power of greed in the hearts and minds of the greedy. Mr. Sekhon was as giddy and merry as a five-year old child who was just got handed a bagful of candy. All of the investors salivate at the idea of grabbing millions of hectares of free land. Their greed blinds them to a self-evident truth: It is impossible to get a whole lot of something (1,000 sq miles of virgin, fertile land) for a whole lot of nothing ($245 a week for 50 years, plus generous tax breaks).

In the end, all of the investors will lose. In the end, the free land-givers will have it all. Over the decades, we have seen free-land-for-nothing type of scams from Angola to Zimbabwe. On March 27, 2011, Robert Mugabe told foreign investors straight-up that he is going to muscle in on their mining operations in Zimbabwe:

We are taking over. Listen Britain and America: this is our country. If you have companies which would want to work in our mining sector, they are welcome to come and join us, but we must have our people as the major shareholders. Those whites who want to be with us, those outsiders who want to work with us fine, they come in as partners, we are the senior partner, no more the junior partner.

Like Mugabe, Ethiopia’s free land-givers will watch the international investors pour their money, hearts and skills into the lands. They will study every move the investors make, and then make their own move. Soon enough, Karuturi and Mr. Sekhon and the rest of them will figure out that they are “outsiders” (not investors) and the free land-givers will “take over” the farming operations, or at least become “senior partners” for giving them free land in the first place. That’s how it will all play out. It has happened time and again all over Africa. Any written lease contract with Karuturi and the rest of them will not be worth the paper it is written on. Whatever unwritten agreements there may be, they will be conveniently forgotten. By the time the investors figure out that they had been taken to the cleaners, it would too late. Mr. Sekhon, who giggled uncontrollably for getting hundreds of thousands of hectares of free land will cry uncontrollably all the way back to Bangalore, India to tell his bosses: “We should have known it was too good to be true! We should have….” The guys who gave out millions of free hectares without anyone asking them for it will be laughing all the way to the bank in London, New York and Zurich.

Cry for the Beloved Country

When hundreds of Anuaks were massacred in Gambella in 2003, the international human rights organizations stepped forward to let the world know what happened there. In 2011, the Guardian newspaper bared to the world the imminent danger facing the indigenous people of Gambella. Over the years, I have tried to offer my voice of support to the cause of Anuak human rights and condemned the giveaway of the ancestral lands for nothing to foreign investors. I shall cry for all the people of Gambella. I shall cry for the Anuak because I fear, as does UNICEF, that they are undergoing a slow genocide by cultural annihilation and dispossession of ancestral lands. The indigenous people of Gambella will forever lose their pastoral way of life, and the new generation of young Gambellans who will never know the traditional ways of their forefathers. I shall cry for the precious wild life that will never return because their habitat has been permanently destroyed and for the  bountiful forests that are burned to ashes and the rivers and fishes that will be poisoned with pesticide and herbicide to grow rice and cotton for export. I shall cry out to the heavens for Ethiopia, for she has become the personal investment property of Meles Zenawi, just like the Congo was the personal investment property of King Leopold II of Belgium in the late 1800s.

But this is no time to despair and submit to the arrogance of power and the power of arrogance. The trials and tribulations of the indigenous people of Gambella and their 80 million compatriots shall come to pass soon; and the bright sun that is lifting the darkness over North Africa and the Middle East is dawning just over the horizon over the land of 13 months of sunshine. Let them all stand up, hold hands, march together and cast away their fears into the fierce blowing winds of change.

Enough!                    Beka!                    Gaye!                    Bass!                    Yiakel!

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/


13 thoughts on “Ethiopia: Country For Sale!

  1. wendataw on

    TPLF will never be forgiven.We have to push the revolution to come sooner.When a person like meles does what he does i personally know who he is and i am not surprice for a minute why he does it.He hates Ethiopia and would do any thing to hurt our matherland.Seling our mather land bit by bit is well intended by TPLF.They are not ethiopians and they will make sure that Ethiopia will be disintegrated but the peopel of ethiopia know that and refused to be divided.Now he is talking about invaiding Eriteria because he felt the revolution and he want to divert it.We have to be stupid to hear what he is saying about Addis Abeba is going to be Bagdag by EPLF maybe he ment by TPLF.They are nervous and try anything possible to keep the power longer.We have to say enought is enought and do our part if there are any ethiopians who are not supporting the Revolution they should be ashamed of themselves.We have to support G-7or ather partys who fight for the unity of Ethiopia.And every body should support ESAT.long live Ethiopia victory is on the way and death will be to TPLF and hodams.Ethiopia lethelalem tinoralech.

  2. Shaebia on

    896 companies on the scramble for Ethiopia’s virgin land, didpossessing the poor off their land & turn them into serfs…..
    My point is why focus on Karaturi & the Saudi ones…..it’s easy to pick on them but Who are the rest of the 986 others?!
    I bet they are the western ones & particularly the Zimbabwean minority white farmers who own swathes of Ethiopian virgin land while you lot focus on Karaturi…..
    They are only conditioning you b4 you find out the truth ……

  3. Mengistu on

    I saw the video, it is so sad to hear and see this news. This is very simple and basic question to any one with common sense. Why coud we have even a single person die for starvation in Ethiopia if we have this much fertile land we can give to foreigners for free ?

    Why on earth would Ethiopia have even a single person die of starvation if we have this much fertile land to give to foreigners for free? Why can’t the government of Ethiopia invest heavily and use the land to feed its people ? Instead of spending millions of dollars buying arms and making wars against neighboring countries why can’t we invest the money in buying agricultural machinery and use the land our selves ? Why ? Why ? Why ? Why ? Why ?
    Do you think the land will be the same fertile land after the Indian firms use it heavily for the next 50 years?

    This being the case, the next question is what should we do to stop this ?

  4. Gigi on

    In addition and in the face of endless and proactive divide and rule brutal exploitation I wonder as to why the opposition is behaving very reactive chatter box instead of being even more proactive and come to correct the dictator’s cunning fox domination and human rights violations.

    It seems that the dictator and his direct and indirect online and off line cadres and agents have already instilled preexisting suspicions among the victims, dampening and diluting the ongoing popular uprisings of the current positive events.

    But let us be so static and keep standing in the same place, walking the walks and talking the talks while the dictator robs the human and material resources the Ethiopian people keep going down to the drain.

  5. Ye Abate Merete on

    I strongly believe I have natural rights to my ancestors’ land of my birth. I have limited formal legal education. I question the thing called “government owns Ethiopian land”. I my self will like to challenge government’s ownership of my mother land, my birth right, when there is a government of the people and there is a justice.

  6. Mekuria on

    Economic bubble forecasters, like Professor Robert Shiller, foresee that the next market bubble will be in food and farm lands. Thus owning potentially cultivable fertile lands is a gold mine, which is already referred to as a green gold. With serious thinking and planning, Ethiopia can extract itself out of poverty by properly utilizing its own agricultural resources and export food, instead of giving the fertile lands almost for free to foreign agribusinesses.

    The actions of the government do not make sense if we look at it from cost-and-benefit of economics itself. By all accounts, it’s not a mark of smart economic decision. The end result of the agribusiness owned commercial farms will be crystal clear. It will enrich the foreign agribusinesses in the upcoming market bubbles in food prices and farm lands, and it will exacerbate the poverty of Ethiopians, particularly the poverty of the already marginalized areas.

    Commercial farms driven jobs will not improve the livelihood of Ethiopians. Records abound that people who work on large scale farms around the world are the poorest of the poor-actually much poorer than subsistence farmers. Considering the fate of and poverty level of the landless laborers in Indian subcontinent is an excellent example.

  7. Egypt on

    Foreign investors are buying large tracts of land in Southern Sudan that add up to an area larger than Rwanda, threatening food supplies and stability in a region due to become independent in July, a Norwegian aid group said. International organizations have sought or acquired 26,400 square kilometres (10,000 square miles) of land for agricultural, biofuel and forestry projects since 2007, Oslo- based Norwegian People’s Aid said yesterday in a report. When domestic investments, previously established mechanized farms and investments in tourism are included, the total comes to 57,400 square kilometres, about 9 percent of the region’s total land area, it said.

  8. Takele on

    Dear Dr.Alemayehu
    I like your piece. Unlike your previous articles this one is more journalistic, simple and conveys your message to the reader and can easily penetrates and disarms the ill-minded TPLF’s supporters.
    Though I like your analysis and fact based writing, I disagree with the analogy you made between the Mengistu’s regime 1985 “Sefera” and resettlement program with Meles’s 2010-2011 Villagization programs. Mingustu’s regime “seffera” program was not entirely counterinsurgency plan, as you described it in your piece, for the following reasons:
    – It is a fact that the northern-part of our country is environmentally degraded, unsuitable for arable land and difficult to harness for other developmental projects
    – Since for several years the northern people of the country have been in constant migration towards the south to escape the famine and drought. At one point it is not a bad idea a government take a measure to implement a settlement program to help this migrating population
    – The people targeted for settlement program were not entirely from Tigray and Eritrea where the insurgency was dominating. The people from Welo and Northern-Shoa were also included in the program.
    -the province of Gojam, Metekel awraja, which was not difficult for the insurgents to access, was one of the areas chosen for the settlement program.
    Additionally, Mengistu’s regime spent the national resource and international humanitarian aid to implement the programs and the employees of the higher education institutions, ministry of agriculture, the Central office, and university students, were at least participating on the implementing the program; even though they were not advised to design the plan . Whereas, Meles is selling the fertile land for his financial interest and has been doing all deals in closed doors with foreign invaders, behind the people. Moreover, if a re-settlement program has to be initiated in the country the people of Gambella would not be the first in the list. The Gambella region is both naturally and culturally rich and needs precautions and extended studies in launching any development plans in the region.

  9. Anonymous on

    Remembering MLK Jr

    “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

    “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

    “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  10. yenegesew on

    We have to see this case in different angles.Am not supporter of any political parties in Ethiopia.I wish the prosperity of my people.I don’t mine about the lowest price that the government is leasing the fertile land.Because if we want to redeem that land in the future it would be simple to pay back the leased money and to cover other legal issue costs that would arises between investers and governments..We all agree that there will be new job opportunities.The region’s infrastracture will be changed.More new investments like industries to process the raw materials(agricultural).The development will be in all sectors like health ,schools etc.
    But am very concerned about the displaced nationals.Great care and followup should be given for them.Today is not like the past.The regions nationals should be the first beneficiary from their lands wealth.
    I want to read more comments both on the positive and negative aspects of this leasing fertile land for agriculture.God bless Ethiopia.

  11. “Like Mugabe, Ethiopia’s free land-givers will watch the international investors pour their money,…..free land-givers will “take over” the farming operations, or at least become “senior partners” for giving them free land in the first place.”

    I don’t understand how Prof. Al looks at Mugabe – how long is Mr. Mugabe going to wait to RIGHT the wrongs of history? Isn’t the land question the last colonial question that needs to be resolved?

    And Prof. Al is telling us beware of the Meles Dictatorship because it has the intention of swindling the Indian Investors by doing Mugabe. Is that supposed to comfort us? :-)

    Look…. Karturi holds a US MBA from Harvard? And is smart business man. Since the Meles Dictatorship is the Land Lord, Why wouldn’t Karturi make his land lords happy? Regardless of the deal already made, I don’t see why the Dictatorship won’t demand a similar concession as it did with Alamoudi? 40% of produce remains to be sold locally the rest can be exported. If not, brother Karturi will have to bring his own army to take the food home. That ain’t happening…..

    Bottom line, all agreements are as good as who is behind them. Trust me; both the Meles Dictatorship and Karturi know the game.

    [[..The deracination uprooting from ancestral lands of indigenous people …culture will completely disappear in the not-so-distant future]]

    I am sorry t say but that is similar to the crap the “environmentalists” say every time we African consider industrialization and progress
    >>”indigenous peoples”, it is only because they regard them as part of the natural kingdom rather than human society. They view them as integral to the local ecosystem, which they want to keep untouched by modernity’s apparently corrupting forces…..The tours are like human safaris. Visitors drive from village to village on dirt roads, taking snaps of curious dark tribes >>-

    I am skeptical about the Guardian video – I think they are more worried that the “Deal of the Century”, was made by their “former slave” Indian instead of a Western Multi National. Karturi as he said is going to be able to CALL THE SHOTS sooner or later on global food?

    It is also obvious that Karuturi’s Project Manager was played like a stupid fool. He was showing off to his “old master” how smart he is.

    I give Prof. Al C- on this subject. If he just concentrated on the legitimate Human Right issue of the Anuak instead of mixing apples and oranges he would have scored better. BTW, the way Prof. Al trashed Meles on Contract Law last week was awesome!!

  12. Mekuria on

    The positive side of giving the fertile land to foreign agribusiness is very much exaggerated. The most important question is this: Is giving fertile lands to foreign agribusinesses the best scenario available to the government? Most definitely it’s not the best scenario. Even if we may need to expand large scale commercial farms, gradual domestic-owned and sustainable commercialization of farms is by far a better alternative, reading it from different angles.

    Employment creation of the agribusinesses is just foolhardy considering the nature of the large scale farms and the type of jobs they tend to create. Researches abound that the jobs large scale farms create are paying below poverty wages and are seasonal. Farm laborers on the large scale farms and plantations are the poorest of the poor by any standard. Most of the jobs are sugarcane cutters, weed pickers, cotton pickers, tea leaves pickers, etc. Just Google and read the living standards of such large scale farms (plantation)laborers. They’re not only poor but they pass poverty from generation to generation. Thus foreign agribusiness created jobs won’t improve the living standard of Ethiopians who will work on commercial farms of the foreign agribusinesses. Actually, the seasonal farm laborers will be poorer than the subsistence farmers of Ethiopia.

    The industrial growth agenda is also over hyped. The agribusinesses do not have the plan/agenda of converting their cotton farms to textile industries. Industrial investments are not part of the deal with agribusiness firms either. They chase profits and have no agenda of transforming Ethiopia’s economy.

    The talk about foreign agribusiness opening schools, clinics, infrastructure, etc is even more irritating, to state the least. it sounds like the government is outsourcing its responsibility to foreign companies. Can they give examples of such dramatic improvements from the lands large plantations roamed around? I don’t think so. We can do better in utilizing our resources.

  13. Mikael on

    It is unfortunate the foolish Derg delcared that land is government and deperiving the people the ownership. Of course, the Gabgaba Wayane used the Derg legal precedent for retailing the land that belongs naturally belongs to the people. Both the Derg and Wayane have had regard for the people but for crews. Mele the craziets man next Molezovich can do anthing until the time come to transport him to the Hague. it is useless for us to make noise and we better fight back these plagues from Asia and the Middle East that are invited to infest our land but not to engage in rational investment. Do not forget there is no rational rationale in the so called investment. It quick money making business for Meles with the long Milas.

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