December 30, 2013
Big multinationals are staging a land grab, dispossessing farmers and stirring up political turmoil, writes Richard Schiffman.
A gold rush is happening in Ethiopia, but it’s not a hunt for the yellow metal. It’s a quest for the green gold of fertile farmland.
A nation more associated with periodic famine and acute childhood malnutrition than with agricultural bounty is leasing millions of hectares to foreign companies that want to grow and export food to places such as Saudi Arabia, China, India and Europe.
One-third of the Gambela area in western Ethiopia, for example, is being leased for the next 50 years by the Bangalore food company Karuturi Global. Forests are being clear-cut, swamps drained, rivers diverted and whole villages moved to make way for flower farms and palm-oil and rice plantations.
The government in Addis Ababa says it needs foreign companies like Karuturi Global to help…
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