Militarization and alternative biofuel drives Ethiopian land-grab

Digital Journal| 3 March 2015

Omo River and surrounding fertile seasonal floodlands as seen from Karo village of Doose, Ethiopia. Photo: Bernard Gagnon

By Karen Hardison

Ethiopia buys military weapons and claims advance on Millennium Goal objectives while India and others gain large scale alternative biofuel crops and claim advance on reduction of fossil fuel dependency.   Ethiopia promises to meet its Millennium Goal objectives of creating a middle class and providing education and health care for its indigenous tribes. India promises to reduce its green house gas emissions from and dependency upon fossil fuels through production of alternative biofuels. Both Ethiopia and India find that leasing or buying large tracts of “fertile basket” land, land traditionally used for herding and small scale shifting cultivation (shifting between small plots that are cultivated then left to revert to nature), facilitates the accomplishment of their promises.

These ofttimes secret land deals, with hidden terms and conditions, that transfer vast sections of land to foreign governments, private investors and land hedge funds, are called land grabs. The inherent problems in this approach to fulfilling millennial and ecological promises produce effects upon local indigenous people, land ecosystems, hydro-ecosystems and upon the long-term outlook for productive modernization, agro-industrialization, food and fuel security.

Who’s Involved and Why

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