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Article

Ethiopia: Land acquisition for agribusiness "not contributing to food security"; includes Karuturi Global's comments

"In Ethiopia, foreign investment is a fancy word for stealing land" 17 October 2014

It’s been called by some to be a new form of colonialism. Others say it is outright theft. Since 2000, over 37 million hectares of land, mainly in the world’s poorest nations, have been acquired by foreign investors “without the free, prior, and informed consent of communities” in what, according to Oxfam and other organizations, constitutes a “land grab.”...In Ethiopia, one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign aid, the problem is particularly acute. In a country where over 30% of the population (pdf) is below the food poverty line, crops are exported abroad—primarily to India, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Multinationals buy up the land from the Ethiopian government for lease and bring in workers to farm it. Favorable climate conditions and government relief have led Ethiopia to be chosen as a new production site by many flower growers present in Kenya. Bangalore-based Karuturi Global, the world’s largest rose exporter, has rose plantations in the country, and is planning the development of a 300,000-hectare lease in the Gambella area. Alfredo Bini, an Italian photojournalist, examined Ethiopian land grabs in his recently released photo series, “Land Grabbing.” For the investors, Bini explains, the deals were not “land grabs” but opportunities to get huge returns on investments. As Birinder Singh, the executive director of Karuturi in Ethiopia, plainly states in his interview with Bini: “When someone calls it ‘land grab,’ we call it ‘land development.'”