'Land to the foreigners': economic, legal, and socio-cultural aspects of new land acquisition schemes in Ethiopia

Title'Land to the foreigners': economic, legal, and socio-cultural aspects of new land acquisition schemes in Ethiopia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleJournal of contemporary African studies
Pagination513 - 539
Date Published2011///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsEthiopia, foreign investments, Government policy, land acquisition

The Ethiopian government is an active partner in the general trend in Africa to hand out large tracts of land to foreign companies and governments for commercial farming, which is defined as investment for national development. By 2009, there were 406 foreign large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) projects in the country on land inhabited or used by a variety of local peoples that have no legal title to the land, because all land in Ethiopia is State property. The economic impact of these enterprises (export crop farms, biofuel enterprises) is expected mainly on the national level. While there are precedents to these land deals in Ethiopia, doling out local lands without much consultation of local inhabitants or land users (e.g. in the large-scale resettlement schemes and State farms), today the controversy is augmented by insecurity about long-term ecological and food security effects and the generation of friction and counter-discourses that will make the schemes foci of conflict. National territory - 'the motherland' - and culturally significant locations are also leased out, threatening social systems and the cultural identities of local groups. Apart from the issue of food insecurity effects, economic dependency on foreign sources may increase. Nationalist issues thus may mingle with social, economic, and cultural heritage issues in emerging concerns on these large-scale leases. Critical discourse and protest are discouraged by the authorities. The paper discusses a number of arguments in this debate, comments on some incipient large-scale land acquisition projects, and sketches a research agenda, focusing on legal and social issues. App. (some major foreign land deals, 2007-2010), bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/20672
Citation Key5376