Ethiopia Gov seizes prime ag land; leases it to multinationals for export

Tribal peoples will be devastated by the current boom in dam-building.
Tribal peoples will be devastated by the current boom in dam-building. © E. Lafforgue/Survival

Ethiopia gives farmland to foreigners while thousands starve

By Survival International

A Survival investigation has uncovered alarming evidence that some of Ethiopia’s most productive farmland is being stolen from local tribes and leased to foreign companies to grow and export food – while thousands of its citizens starve during the devastating drought.

Vast blocks of fertile land in the Omo River area in south west Ethiopia are being leased out to Malaysian, Italian and Korean companies, as well as being cleared for vast state-run plantations producing export crops, even though 90,000 tribal people in the area depend on the land to survive.

The government is planning to increase the amount of land to be cleared to at least 245,000 hectares, much of it for vast sugar cane plantations.

The region’s worst drought in 60 years has left millions starving. The Omo Valley tribes, are for now, relatively secure. But the government views them as “backward” and is determined to “modernize” them: it wants to turn them from self-sufficient farmers, herders and hunters into workers in vast plantations. However, they may be simply evicted from their land.

Part of its scheme involves the construction of a series of dams along the Omo River, including Gibe III, which will be the biggest dam in Africa. Hundreds of kilometers of irrigation canals will follow the dam construction, diverting the life giving waters. This will leave the tribal people without annual floodwaters to grow their crops.

Local people are being intimidated to stop them talking to outsiders or journalists, and there have been no meaningful consultations. A visitor recently in the region told Survival that the government and police are cracking down, jailing and torturing indigenous people and raping women, so they do not oppose the land grabs. One tribesman told the visitor, ‘Now the people live in fear – they are afraid of the government. Please help the pastoralists in southern Ethiopia, they are under big threat.’

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Omo Valley tribespeople are neither ‘backward’ nor need ‘modernizing’ – they are as much a part of the 21st century as the multinationals that seek to appropriate their land. The tragedy is, forcing them to become manual laborers will almost certainly lead to a drastic reduction in their quality of life and condemn them to starvation and destitution like so many of their fellow countrymen.’

Related: How to Deconstruct a Dam

10 responses to “Ethiopia Gov seizes prime ag land; leases it to multinationals for export

  1. Who do I write to? Where is the petition? What else can I do to stop this corrupt behaviour?

  2. I think it would be a great idea to post the names of those corporations and the names of the major shareholders who drive them. This sort of behavior is called predatory…

  3. I tried sharing this to EVERYONE on facebook, and either my work computer won’t allow it or facebook won’t!!

  4. The evening news features East African people starving, yet mentions NOTHIING about why they are starving–about how corporations are stealing their land and food. Who is paying for the media here?

    Big-Agriculture/(Chemical) Corporations want Americans to believe East Africans somehow can’t figure out how to farm after thousands of years. And Americans believe it. How shamefully uneducated we are to fall for these Machiavellian media tricks.

  5. The NAFTA process has been intrinsically involved with the disenfranchisement of the indigenous peoples from their traditional farming culture due to the importation of heavily subsidised cheap food imports. As anyone with a family will testify you try to make more out of less and that includes getting more food for less down at the market. Inevitably the developing cultures people were conned into believing in the benevolance of the US trade department. It meant the farmers eventually abandoned their land because they could not compete with these heavily subsidised imports. It meant that years later when the food (which had been deregulated by Reagan and Clinton in the early 1990’s) price spiked the people could no-longer afford the food at the markets because it became too expensive for them. Starvation ensued and we in the developed world all went ‘Ahh! poor people’, and dug deep to provide funds for food aid. We had effectively caused the famine. Yet we salved our conscience by digging into our pockets for a few coins to alleviate the hunger. Such short term salvation never works for long before the next famine strikes. Not because of the climate. Nor the inability of the people to feed themselves. Just simply because developed nations with their corporate greed and the lust for more money and wealth and power over the masses had decided that thiswas the way to go. After all these developing nations are largely uneducated savages in their eyes so again they become yet more expendable and acceptable collateral damage. A sick way to exist.
    The developing nations also had no local indigenous farmers left to make up the short fall in food availability at a price they could afford and at such short notice. It meant they starved and the land was unable to sustain them. If you understand what happens to land that is farmed then abandoned it takes many years to recover any natural cover and then many more hard years to revert it back to farming. But because they had long since abandoned their lands due to loss of markets for their locally grown produce they could not act promptly to stave off the price spikes in 2008 caused entirely by corporate greed and the sub-prime scandal. So the investors put all their money into food commodities. Neat move you may think if your pension fund depends upon the return rates but not so neat for the developing nations. Now we have the Arab Spring uprisings as a result of food price spikes, a war in Libya and the oppression of the people in Bahrain and Syria by tyrants who either are favoured by the corrupt elite in the West or are of no interest to them.

    You decide how a so called war in Libya can be sanctioned for what amounts to a dictator oppressing the mass majority of the people such that the West launches an all out bombing campaign yet the same Western Nations turn a blind eye to Bahrain who have exactly the same situation going on. One word exlains this little conundrum. ‘Oil’.
    So when the food prices have risen sufficiently the World Bank instigates future investment opportunities in food production and twists the rules to favour the seizure of the previously abandoned land as a viable assest for industrialised crop growing under the guise of doing the right thing for these developing nations. ‘Here have loads of money’ they say and ‘meanwhile we will grow loads of food for export’. Funny that? The farmers were forced to abandon their land due to loss of viable markets caused by the NAFTA policies (which were always biased towards US industry in all its forms) and then when the Western nations have destroyed the local economy’s ability to compete they step in and steal the land with the World Banks blessing (of course the rules were also created by the US with the US lead global market control in mind).

    Its all a massive con trick by the US power base to control the planet. In Africa the people are being dispossessed of their land and their future and corralled on small toxic parcels of land (toxic because of the chemical pollution of the surrounding deforested land now used to grow soya for the factory farms or palm oil for the factories producing the nice smelly products for the developed worlds gullible fools who think that smelling nice and clean doesn’t cost the earth.
    In the South American countries this has been happening for years and yet no-one hardly knows about it.
    I reckon the human race is in for a huge shock very soon. I Can’t wait.

  6. When the Free Trade agreement was passed in 1989,
    no one in the public domain here in Canada knew what it entailed; long after edited copies of the agreement came out and it was shocking. Many manufacturing companies that had been surviving very well for 100 years or more were gone, people suddenly unemployed, told they would be “absorbed” by new industries cropping up. Personally I don’t like the products made in China. And more importantly, I don’t want to buy anything made in China because I do not agree with their human and animal rights abuses. Globalization has served its creators very well as money flows into the pockets of the few who benefit. Kissinger and Nixon invaded Vietnam and Cambodia as well, using agent orange not only to defoliate the jungle but destroying animal and plant life for generations. There was never any compensation. Much of the leftover agent orange was sold to developing countries for “agricultural purposes.”

  7. Ethiopian land should go to Ethiopian farmers, so Ethiopia will no longer reliant on foreign aid. Where can I petition?


    Oh What A CRIME!–Oh What Will Be RECORDED In The HISTORY Books of Our Childrens CHILDREN….When They Learn About The ONES Who Participated in This THEFT….When They READ of The Cultural-Supremacists!–who STOLE Autonomy!–Land!–and TRAMPLED on Human-Dignity!–in order to create a “Slave-Class”….that serves the “agenda”….ohhhh what our CHILDREN will Think–about The Ones who DESTROYED BIO-DIVERSITY….POLLUTED RIVERS….CONTAMINATED DRINKING-WATERS and DISEASED THE NATIONS….in order to “Monopolize” on ROYAL HUMAN LIVES….Now My Descendants of THE GHOST OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA….The ones who call themselves “civilized”….have proven themselves to be as Barbaric as APES….But!–Hark Unto MY Words!–every ONE of your Oppressors will be CHASED WITH LAWSUITS….For You Ohhhh ETHIOPIA Are A Free!–Rich!–Nation!–and the “developed” Nations are simply ENVIOUS of your Black Golden Soil….for in NATURAL RESOURCE…..America and Europe are the Paupers!–and YOU Oh Ethiopian Sons of Solomon!–are the KINGS….Hold on to your Land Oh Ethiopia!–the LAW is on YOUR side!–Walk Along Your Rivers with PRIDE….And May The Thieves be Cuffed!–ETHIOPIA you have Proven to be MORE Advanced in Integrity!–for UNLIKE the “developed” Nations….you have Not Allowed your RESOURCES to Be Dried out and Raped!–even NOW Lawyers take YOUR cases and the CASES in India!–I Declare That THE PRINCES OF ETHIOPIA will not be Turned into DEATH ROW MONSANTO as has Already happened to HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS Of Indians!–Unite with your Brothers!–JUSTICE always has the FINAL word….

    Love, SHANNAH
    And Fear Not!–The WISDOM Of Your Father Solomon is Always With You!

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