Oct. 21 (ESAT News)—Ethiopia’s Ambassador to India has defended land grab and displacement of indigenous tribes especially in Southern Ethiopia and Gambella saying that “mega-commercial farms help development of agro-processing industries.”
Genet Zewdie recently told ENA that her embassy will continue encouraging Indian companies to utilize land that the government is giving away for agribusinesses. According to Genet, land being given away to investors is only in the lowlands as they are sparsely populated.
“Businesspeople who have already succeeded in investing in Ethiopia are inviting their Indian mates who are looking for better investment opportunities,” said Genet.
One of India’s controversial agribusinesses, Karuturi Global, has already been given over 100,000 ha of land in Gambella. The company, which also owns the biggest floristry (??) in Ethiopia, has applied to get over 200,000 ha of land and is considering selling divesting shares in Ethiopia despite restrictions for foreign firms to do so.
Genet claimed that Indian investors have been producing crops like cotton, palm and sugar-cane. “It will help Ethiopia become food self-sufficient,” Genet said
But advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch and Survival International have revealed that the local communities are suffering from displacement and starvation. In its latest report released this week, Survival International expressed grave concern over the government’s land grab policy that has exposed over 200,000 people to starvation and death in the Omo Valley.
Despite the fact the Ethiopian government is facing mounting uproar over its land give away policy at the detriment of indigenous groups and the environment, Genet says that other countries are giving away land for free.
“There are countries which are giving land for free to attract investors because, when they come they bring new technology, employment and foreign currency. These are the main advantages that a developing nation like Ethiopia can benefit from foreign investments,” she said. But she did not mention which countries are giving away land for free to agribusinesses to enable them to exploit resources and people.
The Ethiopian Embassy in India will continue encouraging Indian companies, including agribusinesses like Karuturi to invest in Ethiopia, the ambassador said.