The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 6: Land grabbing and food security in Ethiopia: the dilemmas of sustainable development
Many African countries, including those with severe food security problems, would like to pretend that they can feed their people and far beyond. Despite its remarkable dedication and concerted efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Ethiopia is still suffering from a chronic food security problem where millions of its people are annually threatened with famine. The problems of food security in the country are aggravated as a result of the current scramble by foreign investors to acquire its farmlands to ensure their own food and energy security and to make a profit. Foreign investors are engaged in the production of crops intended for their home countries’ consumption and the growing of plants for their biofuel projects. This chapter will discuss how environmental law and policy in Ethiopia have fared in solving food security problems. The conditions of farmland lease agreements in Ethiopia could aptly be described as ‘land grabbing’ facilitated by the state. Some of the investors in the farmlands have openly stated that the land lease deals were so unbelievably cheap as to represent a ‘throw-away price’. Ethiopia is known for its long history of statehood. About 80 per cent of its people live in the rural areas and depends on agricultural activities for their livelihood.
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