Some quotes from the article Ethiopia – country of the silver sickle – offers land dirt cheap to farming giants …
” … government officials point out that Ethiopia has vast reserves of underused land – 60m hectares of the country’s 74m hectares suitable for agriculture is not cultivated – and insist no local farmers will be adversely affected.”
If you take people’s grazing rights and access to water, they are affected. If you allow practices that affect the environment, soil, water, if you destroy forests then they are affected. Benefits clearly accrue to the investors and to EPRDF. Everyone else bears the costs.
The Ethiopian government makes it seem as if fifty or a hundred years from now everything will be as it were before the lease. After producing under highly mechanized, intensive farming, the land will no longer be productive. The sizes being given away are not benign.
Is there a plan beyond selling the land that will ensure a generation from now these farmers’ children will not be landless laborers?
“There is no crop that won’t grow in Ethiopia but we cannot produce quantity and quality. Why? It’s a vicious cycle of the lack of capital and technology,” he said. “So leasing land is a real opportunity for us.”
The key word here is “us”. Who is “us”? the TPLF elite?
Teresa Agassa, a 38-year-old man in gumboots who works a one-hectare plot, said it was good that some local people now had jobs – even if the wage was too small. But he spoke enviously of Karuturi’s tractors. “They’re only for the company’s benefit. Maybe there can also be benefits for us – but we will only know in the future.”
Why not empower these people? Help them build cooperatives? Give them favorable loans? Help them get mechanized? No, that would require actually governing and would be hard work.
Will this farmer be around next year considering his costs of production?
“People here are very poor. They would work for 1 birr…”
Why? Because God created them that way? Or is this the result of two decades of failed policies? Do these people have a choice?