Oakland, CA: California-based Oakland Institute has released a report on land investments in Ethiopia as a part of their larger project, “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa.”

“The Ethiopia report, a product of extensive fieldwork and the examination of official documents including contracts and agreements, shows that investors have acquired over 3.6 million ha of land throughout the country for the purposes of food and agrofuel production for foreign consumption,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. “These deals have been made without the knowledge, consent, or collaboration of local communities and without assessments to determine the impact on the environment and the population. Thus it is essential that the reality of foreign investments in land in countries like Ethiopia is laid bare so communities, media, and policy makers have the information they need to make informed decisions,” she continued.

The deals include no commitments or regulations on foreign investments. A foreign investor in Ethiopia is quoted in the report as saying, “Our agreement with government is purely commercial. Government is charging us a rent… what we choose to do on the land for our own commercial intent is our own business. There are [sic] no governance, no constraints, no contracts, none of that.
The consequences of land deals include forced relocation of local communities, environmental devastation, water loss, and increased food insecurity.

“No one should believe that these investors are there to feed starving Africans, create jobs or improve food security,” Obang Metho of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia said. “These land grab agreements – many of which could be in place for 99 years – do not mean progress for local people and will not lead to food in their stomachs. These deals lead only to dollars in the pockets of corrupt leaders and foreign investors.”
“We have seen cases of speculators taking over agricultural land while small farmers, viewed as “squatters” are forcibly removed with no compensation,” said Frederic Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute. “This is creating insecurity in the global food system that could be a much bigger threat to global security than terrorism. More than one billion people around the world are living with hunger. The majority of the world’s poor still depend on small farms for their livelihoods, and speculators are taking these away while promising progress that never happens.”

The Ethiopia report, as well as a brief on one of the investments, Saudi Star land deal, is available at http://media.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deals-africa/ethiopia.Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.

www.oaklandinstitute.org; http://www.facebook.com/oak.institute

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