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Think tank deplores Ethiopia land grab deals
By Abebe Gellaw
Washington DC (ESAT News)--The founding Executive Director of the Oakland Institute (OI), an independent policy think tank based in California, USA, has condemned cheap land giveaway deals that have been displacing indigenous communities from their ancestral land. In an exclusive interview with the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), Anuradha Mittal has said that the deals are illegal and should be voided.
She says that the land giveaway deals in Ethiopia have been causing great misery to the indigenous people, who are not even being consulted when their fertile land is given away to foreign agribusinesses to produce food and cash crops for export.
Mittal further pointed out that the land deals that has been destabilizing and detrimental to ordinary Ethiopians are illegal and should be voided. “These deals are illegal. The people’s voice has not been taken into consideration. These deals need to be voided,” she said.
“These leases are pretty atrocious. If you look at the price of land of this fertile land, which is close to water being given away for leases, which are 45, 50 or 90 years leases. There are no environmental, social impact assessments done,” she said. Mittal further noted that the Ethiopian government cares little about the impacts of these deals on powerless local communities that are being displaced as a result of the land giveaway. “You don’t find any kind of consultation process with the local communities because in Ethiopia land belongs to the government,” she noted. Lack of democracy and good governance is at the heart of such a situation, according to Mittal.
“We don’t find investment scheme that would result Ethiopia as a country, as an economic power, gaining any kind of advantages,” she said adding that the scheme appeared to allow “strategic investors” to rob Ethiopia’s rich resources and taking the benefit out of the country.
Earlier this year the Oakland Institute published special reports on seven countries severely affected by land grab. In its country report on Ethiopia, OI underlined that the land lease deals would aggravate food insecurity, have negative environmental impacts and devastate indigenous communities. According to the report, published earlier this year, over 3.6 million hectares of land has been transferred, largely to foreign agribusinesses.
Despite the fact that Meles Zenawi has been arguing that leasing away millions of hectares of “unutilized land” would ensure food security, OI’s chief says that the land grab rush has the opposite effect and can even sustain hunger and famine. “In the case of Ethiopia, you talk about a country where 13 million people are dependent on food aid. So you can imagine trucks full of aid coming to Ethiopia. On the other hand you have trucks full of cereals, cut flowers and agro fuels leaving the country. So it is just the juxtaposition of the two pictures that base the reality in Ethiopia.”
The OI chief emphasized that the commercial agribusinesses are not growing food for consumption within Ethiopia but for export. “This is food that is leaving Ethiopia. So has nothing to do in terms of food security”, she said.
“The kind of foreign investment in land that we are seeing in Ethiopia is basically a recipe for continued famine in Ethiopia. This is not going to lead to improved food security. This is not going to be supporting small holder farmers. It doesn’t provide a kind of incentives you need to grow and develop as a country,” she added.
Mittal further indicated that OI researchers who travelled to Ethiopia to investigate the impact of land giveaway discovered rampant violation of human rights and the indigenous people are denied their basic rights to raise their concerns. “Our researchers reported a lot of repression. They reported indigenous communities were hunted down like animals where they constantly asked if they support these plantations. They are supposed to say yes. If they would have say no beatings follow, rapes follow,” she said.
The OI director blamed the Ethiopian defense forces for enforcing the land giveaway deals. Mittal says that the defense force uses tanks to monitor “the areas where people are constantly being beaten or arrested if they voice their dissent.”
In Gambella, a region severely affected by land grab deals, the institute’s researchers found out that one of the Gambella National Park is being deforested and devastated by investors operating in the region including Karuturi and Saudi Star, which is owned by Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi.
Another OI finding contained in its country report on Ethiopia and that has raised eye-brows is that up to 75 percent of land grab investors in Gambela affiliated with the TPLF. The OI country report on Ethiopia states: “It is widely perceived that Tigrayans receive beneficial treatment in relation to investment are given land freely and receive preferential access to credit. All but one of the domestic investors that we visited were from the Tigray region…One regional government official in Gambella estimated that 75 percent of the domestic investors in Gambella were from Tigray.” Mital said such a practice is a kind of colonialism.
Mittal argued that Ethiopia is a rich country with massive resources that can feed itself. She highlighted that people have to figure out how to remove the governance obstacle that is hindering the nation’s progress.
“History shows that if a country like Ethiopia continues to marginalize its own people, continues to ignore and show no respect to human rights, continues to practice schemes which will cause more food insecurity, we do know that there will be more hunger and poverty in Ethiopia. We do know from history that increased hunger and poverty leads to increased insecurity that leads to political instability,” the OI chief said.
Author of several books and reports, Mittal, is an internationally recognized expert on development, trade, human rights and agriculture issues. Recipient of several awards, she was named as the Most Valuable Thinker in 2008 by The Nation magazine.
. . .the EVIL says,
“. . .why i should give my people money for capital to cultivate their lands, if I can bring somebody that can give to me more money to use their lands?. . .simple as that!. . .”
EASY MONEY FOR EVILS!!!!
dont belive this wolfes they are not tninking for ethiopians or for ethiopan people only they dont want to see dovelopment and cvilaization in ethiopia. they want africa stay dark and backword.
Thankyou Anuradha Mittal, for your heartical concern once again for highlighting the scandalous atrocities of the neo-colonial regime of ethnic federalism.
“Neo-colonialism today takes two forms: economic and political. We recognize that economic dominance is not only often the more difficult to eliminate, but often serves as the entering wedge for political domination. We further recognize that, given the history of our continent, and the conditions under which we came to freedom, it is not unusual that, despite our best efforts, the economic independence which we seek is long and difficult in coming. Long-established patterns of trade are not easily or quickly reoriented. Let us not delude ourselves in thinking that these facts, for such they are, are of no significance for the future of Africa. But let us, at the same time, toil with all our strength to alter them.
When we consider political neo-colonialism, our desires, although perhaps no less difficult of attainment, are at least easier of articulation. We seek to avoid a rigid and inflexible posture which prejudices our position on major issues before the world. We seek to avoid alignment, to achieve true non-alignment. Our late good friend, H.E. Prime Minister Nehru of India, put it thus: ‘The only camp we should like to be in is the camp of peace and goodwill.’” Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, page 269-70
“The fundamental obstacle to the realisation 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 aim of those leaders that is based on ambition for power and personal gain is one with no firm foundation and will, consequently, crumble easily.” Selected Speeches of HIM Haile Selassie I, page 471
“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. Recipients of land grants as well as those who had previously owned their own holdings do not by the mere owning of such land satisfy the requirements. They must make proper use of the land not only for their own benefit but as well to that of the people– We shall not permit any land to lay fallow.” Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, page 487
“Man can only begin an enterprise, it is for God to dispose of it to a good end.” Selected Speeches of HIM Haile Selassie I, page 391
Long Live the Constitutional Monarchy!
Long Live African Unity!
Long Live the charter of the United Nations!
Fire burn down the neo-colonial regime of the alien imposed federation of secession
Rise with the Lion of Judah!
Gasha for Ethiopians!
Long Live Independent Ethiopia!
Our research work on land investments in Ethiopia was carried out in partnership and collaboration with Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE). To learn more please visit http://www.solidaritymovement.org/.
In short our dear Government has sold us to foreigners. My grandfather fought against Italians to keep us free but now our own government is selling us?? We need to take matters into our own hands. Our government is insensitive and doesn’t care about us!!
SO, there are no Ethiopian investors to use Ethiopian land to cultivate and produce Ethiopian crops and help Ethiopian farmers?? Learn just a little from your northern neighbour, Ethiopian Land for Ethiopians ONLY!!
Are we all BLIND? Can any one of you explain to us what is the defference b/n land grabbing deal for those who want to invest their money whom you BLIND politician called them NEO-COLONIALIST in most poorest nation of the world and those PARASITES CHARITIES who are already COLONZED us by their dirty money and food, and who are now infecting the entire Ethiopian population to become a BEGGER nation?
Explain to me and others you the so called dr, professor ,environment activist, human right activist etc.etc…Which way you want to go the the next century to see the light of your future childerens, the beggar way which you are now walking through or a bright future to coming generation to become a healthy and self sufficient nation?
The main political problem of today’s Ethiopia is WEYANNES BEGGERS who are MADE OF Oxfam,Red cross and USAID.
I see Beggersiem as the same as HIV’s and Aids Virus. Once a nation infected with this virus ,there is no cure for it. Ethiopia is now infected with these parasites charities who are distroying the Ethiopian hard working farmers. As I detected these two similare virus originating from Norther Ethiopia province 1984 spreading like a wild fire south ward where BEGGERISEM was not known by them till one day morning came one of these charities starting distributing their poison to healthy southerner and start infected them. Now, where ever you go and turn around, the western charities invading army iare COLONIZED us forever. Even the first unborn child in Ethiopia is infected by western charities virus, learn the first thing inside his mothers womb how to BEG. Thanks to weyannes, that our young generation are now a neo-charity colonialist generation, a generation of west disposal with no Ethiopian true blood.
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