Saturday, April 2, 2011

Survey on Land Grabbing in Ethiopia

“If a country was worried about Energy security, it would not say that it would buy out the Middle East or needs wheat in Iowa it would not buy Iowa.”
This was just an attempt to analyze insights of what people think about land grabbing or in the very optimistic term Land investment. Hence the question was asked in a format that would not influence anyone’s response and people had the option of adding their own response as part of the poll. However, most votes trended to the preexisting choices.

The question
Ethiopia, a country whose food security is as risk with a chance of 3 million people to starve in this year, has given pieces of land for 815 investors for the past 5 years. This is over 2.5 million hectares of fertile land, forest and grazing field.
Land grabbing in Ethiopia 
a.      Should stop immediately = 63 votes
b.      Proper policies should be facilitated = 63 votes
c.       No Land deal to foreigners = 10 votes
d.      Have no idea = 2 votes
e.      Should continue = 1 vote

Looking at the dynamics of the vote shows that partly the initial reactions tended more to the first choice that is Land grabbing should stop immediately. As many statistical polls tend to influence voters opinion, this poll was unlike that; evidently showing other choices gradually but steadily catching up with the highly favored choice. Amazingly the poll ended with two choices having a tie number of vote. As this a very minor and not effectively randomize study, the result will be less of accurate. Yet this does tell about what place this matter holds in the various social and civil issues that are discussed in the society and the degree of awareness.

With the two choices which have been highly favored in focus let us look at what the result and choice tells us
Should stop immediately = 63 votes
Proper policies should be facilitated = 63 votes

The first choice “Land grabbing should stop immediately”
As Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries and the citizens living under worse condition of poverty but with lash of fertile farmlands and still unable to feed the population, large land acquisitions by foreign power only entail colonialism of some sort and are completely unacceptable.
On the other hand, it can also mean Land investment as beneficial as it many sound have gone beyond limits as Ethiopia have already given out 3 million hectares of Land . Land investment should stop immediately.
The second choice which points out that policies should be facilitated also means two things
First one, to put in place a structure and set up a policy in order to make the deals made with big food cooperation result in a win-win situation after the negotiation. Or secondly, to reinforce the existing one if there is an existing policy that would really potentially benefit all sides of this investment.

These two choices have equally been favored by; among the 139 votes. Some have selected both, these voters in my view feel that Ethiopia could benefit from the Land investment but no action or deal should be made until proper policies are implemented.

My view

Africa, a continent whose population is expected to reach 1 Billion by the end of the decade and with 250 million people going hungry every day, highly requires a development of economy. Foreign power and countries that are concerned about the food security in their own country prefer to own extremely large piece of land from these poor countries so as to reduce the cost of production and middle man from their cost of exporting food and having much larger control on the produce. These land investments are often not made on equal terms with that of the small farmers who as the result of the new agreement and deal are no longer farmers but employees who are dependent on the job not the land.The land will never be theirs as it has already been restructured to meet the requirements of the foreign powers. This will eventually have a human cost as it has, so far, not guaranteed any positive outcome for the continent.

These kinds of deals that highly affect the Indigenous people and local farmers should be done in a well structured system that empowers civil society and small holders. The question that we need to ask ourselves is why this is done in Africa, which is not an epitome for democracy and isn’t there a better way to do this like empowering the local farmers to produce the same food that the foreign countries need and exporting it.

My question to the professionals

I have searched for materials or research papers on this matter by Africans and especially Ethiopians but was not able to find any. This is national matter and anything that is written in that prospect will benefit the nation in creating the awareness and knowing how this new dimension of Food cooperation benefits and affects Africa and more over Ethiopia.
So I am requesting these professionals in the field to give us more information on the matter and the Key elements that needs to be considered when we discuss about Land acquisition and investment.


  1. Very Good point my dear sister.
    To me the two popular questionnaire points you mentioned are not exclusively not related.

    Actually, joining these two together, you get a new but better option: Stopping the land grabbing immediately (63 votes) and resuming it after proper policies (63 votes) are put in place.

  2. Yes,Ababaye

    That is what a feel works but this is a unwarranted guess so that is why we need a professional intervention so that we can get the true measures in regards to the pros and cons of Land grabbing

  3. The survey result is just awesome, but the analysis is just so poor and biased.
    1. For you question as a logo (“If a country was worried … not buy Iowa.”)
    If one has got that much money and need why not? I think it is very presumptuous to justify it that way.
    2. “…, evidently showing other choices gradually but steadily catching up with the highly favored choice”
    This shows you have already made you mind before the survey has ended,
    3. Missed parameter
    Even if both the top options have found Equal votes, political motivation has great influence on the result. Just see the profile pictures and it will tell you a lot.
    So the most rational way forward for land investment issues is to develop (already there), and implement the policy