The recent Indian-Ethiopian civil society seminar in New Delhi was not to scare off investors as argued by Metasibia Tadesse in the article “How Ethiopians benefit from Indian (and other) land investors” (Feb. 27). It was intended to assess the impact of commercial agri-investment on small-scale farmers in east Africa and the role of Indian investors. Both government and investor companies were invited but they chose not to come.

The usual denial of displacement of affected communities and widespread human rights abuses against them contradicts ample evidence from rights organisations, NGOs, research institutes, activists and the media. Ethiopia faces recurrent famine, drought, and threat of starvation by millions, and a large population depends on subsistence farming. A policy that deprives and displaces small-scale farmers to earn foreign currency is unethical and unwise.

The claims of necessary safeguards being in place in reaching land deals between the authorities and commercial investors, locals as well as regional administrations, lack evidence. Such lies made Ethiopian activists join their fellow counterparts in India (who are also struggling against massive land grab) to work in the interest of genuine and transparent development of their citizens. Portraying the seminar’s intention otherwise destroys genuine development aspirations of both countries.

Nyikaw Ochalla,

Founder and Director,

Anywaa Survival Organisation

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