Ethiopia Gives Farmland to Foreigners While Thousands Starve

This is a reposting of a blog entry I made for ECO City Farm on August 23, 2011.

On March 8, Joanna Eede of the Huffington Post U.K. wrote an article that exposed the current trend of African nations selling fertile farmlands to multinational corporations. In her article “Exposed: Ethiopia Gives Farmland to Foreigners While Thousands Starve.” She touches on several big issues that include famine, disruption of the tribal way of life that is reliant on the natural system, property rights, and multinational food enterprises leasing fertile farmland. This article provides good overview of some of the negative outcomes of big agricultural policies.

What caught my attention from the article is the interaction between Ethiopian tribes living in the in the Lower Omo River valley, the Ethiopian administration’s actions, and big agricultural multinational operations. There are at least eight different tribes that farm on the fertile soil surrounding the river, which is replenished annually when the river floods. These tribes are also reliant on the fishes and wildlife around the river as a source of protein and income. Their way of life will change with Gibe III dam is built on one of the tributaries of the Omo River. Foreign companies are also leasing the farmland to grown crops such as sugarcane because the Ethiopian president’s administration views this as a profitable venture. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is having their worst drought in 60 years.

The article paints a bleak picture of the state of Ethiopia and its farmland. This scenario is a result of big agriculture trying to meet the demands of the consumers in places like U.S. and EU. Click here to read Eede’s article.


About John Costa

I am a farmer in training with a background in finance, organizational sustainability, and project management. My expertise is making the business case for local food enterprises.
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