London: Ethopia, one of the
world's poorest country, is selling or leasing its land to
foreign investors for intensive agriculture on such a scale
that it may be the biggest land grab after Colombus, according
to media reports.
Up to 125 million acres of land -- an area more than
double the size of the UK -- has been acquired in the last few
years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments
and wealthy investors working with state subsidies, say
reports published in the Mail and the Guardian.
Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world
with more than more than 12 million people according of Food
and Agriculture Organisation, are chronically or at least
periodically food insecure, but paradoxically the government
is offering at least 7.5 million acres of its most fertile
land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy
individuals to export food for their own populations.
But Ethiopia is only one of 20 or more African countries
where land is being bought or leased for intensive
The data used was collected by Grain, the International
Institute for Environment and Development, the International
Land Coalition, ActionAid and other non-governmental groups.
The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered
by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil
price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European
Union's insistence that 10 per cent of all transport fuel must
come from plant-based biofuels by 2015.
First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 18:08