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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Matare, a Nuer settlement along Baro River, Gambela Region, Ethiopia, in quieter times. Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia 2005 / Getachew via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).
Matare, a Nuer settlement along Baro River, Gambela Region, Ethiopia, in quieter times. Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia 2005 / Getachew via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

It's not just western corporations that are moving into large-scale agribusiness in Ethiopia, writes Mohammad Amir Anwar. Indian investors have acquired rights to some 6,000 sq.km of land much of it in the ecologically sensitive Gambela region, where unconsulted Nuer and Anuak peoples are suffering from forest clearance.

Gambela is an ecological hotspot with Gambela National Park at its centre. It is home to Nuer and Anuak people whose livelihoods are threatened by investors illegally clearing trees in the park.
The global food price crises between 2008 and 2009 led countries that bore the brunt of the catastrophe to look elsewhere for agricultural land to mitigate the effects.
In 2008 prices of some foods, including wheat, soared by 130% in a single year and the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation's food price index shot up 40%.
The result was a frenzied scramble that saw countries acquire an estimated 40 million hectares of land in foreign countries, most of it in Africa.
A great deal of attention has been paid to the role of the US, the largest investor in land in the world, China and Middle Eastern countries.
Much less attention has been given to the role of India. A global land monitoring initiative,Land Matrix, ranks India as one of the top 10 investors in land abroad. It is the biggest investor in land in Ethiopia, with Indian companies accounting for almost 70% the land acquired by foreigners after 2008.
Indian land deals in Ethiopia are the result of the strong convergence in the two countries' domestic political-economic policies. Both advocate the privatisation of public assets and increasing reliance on free trade and open markets.
India's investment in land has been driven by the need to obviate the effects of spiralling food prices by outsourcing food supply. Ethiopia's decisions are driven by its development policy based on commercialisation of agriculture and reliance on foreign investments.
Rough estimates suggest Indian firms have acquired roughly 600,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia. This is more than ten times the size of land acquired by firms in India under the country's special economic zones policy. India is followed closely by Saudi Arabian firms, with 500,000 hectares of land, in Ethiopia.
What drives Indian firms to Ethiopia?
India's ability to feed its 1.22 billion people is under increasing strain. This is due to a rapidly growing population, low agricultural productivity, reductions in farm sizes, declining water tables, increasing control of the seed sector by multi-nationals and a gradual withdrawal since the 1990s of the farm support system.
India introduced special economic zones in 2005 hoping it would lead to agricultural development through the consolidation of land holdings. The intention was that this would lead to industrialisation.
But the policy exposed the oldest contradiction of capitalism - primitive accumulation which includes privatisation of land, the forced expulsion of peasant populations and the conversion of common, collective and state property rights to exclusive property rights.
Widespread resistance movements began in many states, stalling some of the biggest zones, most notably in Nandigram. The protests led to the fall of the Left Front state government of West Bengal in 2011 after 34 years in power.
To meet consumption needs the Indian government started encouraging firms to seek land abroad for growing crops. This was driven by two factors: it was struggling to make more land available for investors and the spike in global food price crisis in 2008.
The lure of Ethiopia
The Ethiopian agricultural sector lies at the heart of the government's development strategy. It has set out to attract more foreign investment in large-scale commercial agriculture as outlined in its 1993 policy which was later reformulated in 2005.
The policy marked a move towards a more trade-orientated approach, and a desire to attract foreign investors. Over 3.5 million hectares of land has been earmarked for investment by foreign firms.
But foreign investors need to tread carefully when acquiring land in Africa. This is best illustrated in the Gambela region of Ethiopia which I visited earlier this year. The area has been the centre of large-scale land acquisitions by Indian as well as other foreign investors.
According to the Ethiopian constitution, land is administered by the regional government. However, the federal government's move to govern land investments through a centralised agency called the Agricultural Investment Land Administration Agency has led to discontent among Gambela regional government officials.
The concern is that the behaviour of foreign companies is not being managed adequately. There is a strong sense that land deals in Ethiopia have benefited both the foreign investors and domestic private capitalists with close ties to the ruling party.
recent study found that foreign investors are farming less than 8% of the land they have acquired. During my visit I learnt that Karuturi Global Ltd, an Indian firm which has 100,000 hectares of land in Gambela, had only 1,000 hectares under production.
A lack of consultation with people living in the area is also a problem. Gambela is an ecological hotspot with Gambela National Park at its centre. It is home to Nuer and Anuak people whose livelihoods are threatened by investors illegally clearing trees in the park. These clearances happen mostly without consultation. This has led to conflict in the region.
Given the political nature of international land deals and the role states play in shaping policy and practice, there must be scrutiny on the role governments play in such deals because of their close alliance with private capital.
This is especially so for India. It can ill-afford to be tainted by accusations of complicity in land deals that disadvantage the people of Africa given the role it sees for itself in promoting co-operation among countries in the south to mitigate the effects of skewed power relations with the north.

Mohammad Amir Anwar is Post-doctoral fellow at University of Johannesburg.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Source: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2892711/the_lesser_known_story_of_indias_role_in_ethiopian_land_grabs.html
Hawassa is to host a continental conference on post harvest and agro-processing starting from June 24-26, 2015, Ethiopian News Agency reported.
The conference centers on ways of bringing agricultural transformation in Africa, according to a press statement from the organizers.
Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) and the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) as well as Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture come together to organize the conference.
SAA Managing Director, Juliana Rwelamira said 30 percent of food produced by Africa’s smallholder farmers is lost during postharvest.
“We must improve postharvest handling, storage and the processing of agricultural produce to reduce losses, increase income, and improve livelihoods. Essentially, also, we must produce more nutritious food both for the home and the market place”, he commented.
The conference intends to discuss on ways of adopting and scaling-up good practices supported with policies and infrastructures to drive agricultural transformation in Africa.
Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Fascinating: New data on who most travels to Ethiopia, and where its 90 million-plus locals visit

Growing tourism industry adding tailwind to Horn of African country's burgeoning economy.
Ethiopia is an increasingly popular destination for travellers. (Photo: wo de shijie)
Ethiopia is an increasingly popular destination for travellers. (Photo: wo de shijie)
MORE than 96 million people are counted as Ethiopian, accounting for 1.3% of the total world population and making the country the 13th most-populated globally.
The country is also as diverse as it is populated, home to cross-cultural civilisations from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, giving it a rich heritage and enticing visitors from all over the world.
To further explore visitor behaviour into and within the country, hotel booking website  Jovago recently surveyed Ethiopia’s travellers. Some of the findings are fascinating.    
Domestic Travellers 
Addis Ababa, also known as capital city of Africa due to hosting the African Union (AU) headquarters, is undoubtedly a major business hub for most domestic travellers - a staggering 60% come from the sprawling city. 
Other cities and Hawassa follow with 38% and 2% travellers respectively. The northerly Gondar received 10% of travellers within Ethiopia, while 9% of travellers within the country are from the nearby Lalibela. 
Addis Ababa is the most popular destination for domestic travellers with 13% visiting the city. Gondar is a favoured destination for 10% of travellers, closely followed by Lalibela at 9%. The more central Awasa at 6% is also a popular destination for local travellers.      
International Travellers 
The survey shows that the bulk of international travellers (including Ethiopian diaspora) to Ethiopia are from the United States followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and Kenya respectively. 
On the other hand, the most popular destination for Ethiopians is Kenya, followed by Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Djibouti and United Arab Emirates. 
Most remote booking 
The farthest hotel booking to Ethiopian-based hotels was made from Europe: Amsterdam in the Netherlands; Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway. 
Fom Asia the most remote booking was made from Tokyo, Japan (10,089km) away from Ethiopia. 
Travellers visiting Ethiopia 
For Ethiopia, hosting international visitors is nothing new. A large number of visitors has been recorded all year long for the past five years. In 2010, 468,000 visitors were registered and this figure rose to 681,000 visitors in 2013. 
The number of visitors is estimated to exceed 1.2 million people in 2017, further supporting the emerging Ethiopian economy. 
The firm’s survey was done based on traveller’s data that made a hotel booking through its main jovago.com portal in the past year.

Public Participation - Sense of Urgency to Rescue Rift Valley Lakes Featured

Lake Langano shorelines are risk of human encroachment
The Ethiopian rift valley lakes are clustered along the northern section of the African Great Rift Valley. Although many disturbances to the natural resources, influencing both its status and diversity the rift valley lakes area is also known for its stock of remnant forests and wildlife, among others. Among the protected areas forest Adaba-Dodola and Harama-Buluk are known by its potential to sequestrate carbon emission and its immense contribution to the local community in particular and the Region in general through Eco-tourism, environmental services and economic values, according to Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise (OFWE).
Among the limitless potentials, its is a centre of biodiversity also important bird habitat and sanctuary also breeding, feeding and nesting habitat for many residential as well as palaertic migrating birds.
Lake Abijata and Shalla particularly are known for inter-lake flights by flamingo, pelican and variety of other water birds. Several different Northern Paleartic birds also visit Abijata as a staging - stop over- and wintering ground, says Dr. Girma Tilahun, lecturer at Hawassa University, Biology Department. "Lake Abijata has been proposed as international wetland National Park by EWCO (Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization) in 1989 and protected bird sanctuary."
The Rift Valley lakes such as Langano and Hawassa are recreational sites. And some are source of fishery, notably Koka, Ziway and Hawassa as well are used for drinking and irrigation not to mention the ecologically diversity which provide best opportunity to study limnological, he said with enthusiasm.
On the other hand, despite unlimited potential, within the last 30 to 40 years, the Rift Valley lakes shores and associated wetlands and wildlife, in particular the bird population and fish are sadly at risk due to increasing population pressure, land degradation, deforestation, overgrazing siltation, among others, said Dr. Girma in his presentation to the panel discussion held as a side event to World Environment Day.
"Wetlands are in danger because they are out of sight." For instance, Lake Cheleleka in particular is no more. It's 12 km2 is now reduced to 0.1 km2, since it is being converted into swamp as a result of heavy siltation and sedimentation. Shallo swamp- 63 km2 size is increasingly shrinking in size and being converted into dry land due to rapidly expanding residential area and draining for grazing and farmland. Wetlands around lake Langano are also in danger, he added.
It didn't stop there he continued, Lake Abijata and Shalla are also rapidly shrinking because of intensive water extraction for Soda ash project. Lake Ziway shoreline is intensively used for agriculture and water extraction and up stream water diversion for irrigation so is Hawassa and Koka lakes. Not to mention, over fishing, indiscriminate use of gear such as gill nets, invasive species such as water hyacinth that are covering River Awash and expanding into Lake Koka.
Absence of strong organizational structure with efficient network and clear chain of authority up to and including local communities as well as absence of integrated activities in a wider ecosystem approach, among others are also main reasons cited by him that aggravate the situation.
Increasing forest cover and conservation of existing benefits more than just climate change mitigation, said Minster of Environment and Forest, Belete Tafere. Ethiopia has been striving to curb climate change effects. Millions of people have been actively engaged in soil and watershed management as well as reafforestation endeavours and conservation works, which is registering encouraging results, he added.
"Yes, it is understandable to question the reported figures on environment protection and conservation. The government invested a lot in protecting and conserving our environment. However, despite the huge efforts and activities the conservation works still are not that significant. "We have serious limitation in protecting our forests and wetlands. Yes I agree, we need to scale-up our efforts," adding, "GTP II has huge ambitious. Hopefully it will address these and other environmental issues timely.
Mohamed Ibrahim, Deputy Head of Rural Land and Environment Protection Bureau, in response said, we are doing intensive conservation works to protect the Rift Valley also the remnant forests." We are actively engaged in teaching the communicates and finding alternative energy resource, he added. "We also brought many offenders to justice."
"I just heard about Lake Cheleleka right now. We don't have any information about it. We will look into it. The Lake is found in two jurisdictions, hence a responsibility of Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People states."
In regards to lakes Abijata and Shalla, one of the problem was intensive digging and sale of sand by youth organized within several Micro and Small Enterprise (MSEs). Together with the community, we managed to find alternative employment for the youth." In terms of Ash Soda production we are trying to find a solution with concerned bodies.
The objectives for the Environment and Climate Change initiatives of the GTP I are to formulate and effectively implementing on going environmental policies, laws, strategies and standards which will foster social and green economy development so as to enhance the welfare of citizens and environment sustainability.
The government has therefore, initiated the Climate Resilient Green Economy (GRGE ,2011) imitative to protect the country the diverse effects of climate change and its adverse effects and to build a green economy that will help realize its ambition to reach middle income status by 2025.
According to Belete Geda, expert with the Ministry of Environment and Forest in the GTP I, with active community participation efforts invested to conserve the environment and reduce climate change vulnerability are paying off.
"Some 26 million people on average participate in watershed management and soil and water conservation works. Which means for 30 days every year the community contributed its labour for the conservation works worth 27.8 billion birr or about 1.4 billion USD.
As a result, in 2010 the country forest coverage showed only 5 per cent increase but that is more than doubled in 2013 to 13-15 per cent. "In the GTP I, it was planned to collect slightly over 4,8 quintals of various forest tree seeds but at the end of the plan year over 22.500 quintals of seeds were gathered. "
Some 20,000 watersheds are identified and management plan was formulated with a 101 per cent success rate and 8.5 million hectare of land designated for closure and possible to accomplish 85 percent of the target.
"The GTP targeted soil and watershed management works on slightly over 16.2 million hectare but managed to protect over 75.7 million hectare of land, soil and water at a 465 per cent success rate," he further said, "1.9 million hectare of land is rehabilitated for that of the plan 894,000 also a 215.4 per cent achievement." Furthermore, it was planned to carry out small scale irrigation schemes on over 8.5 million hectare of land but at the end of the plan year over 1.1 million of land is cultivated by the irrigation schemes."
Climate change is the defining human development issue of our generation. The 2007 Human Development report acknowledges that climate change threatens to erode human freedoms and limit choice. While underscoring the vulnerability of the rift valley lakes and wetlands, it should also be acknowledged that community participation play an important role in supporting households and communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Therefore, community based and participatory approach Bottom - up approach that ensures the involvement of local population and communities in decision making, and implementation of action plan is vital.
Community with out basic understanding about the structure, function, values and benefits of aquatic ecosystem can not be blamed if it fails to foresee the consequence of over exploitation. Thus, Dr. Girma suggests, public education- formal and informal also the use of multi - media is essential.
Dr. Girma finalized his study presentation emphasizing research and environmental monitoring as well as long term limnological and hydrological records that are critically needed to identify natural variability in physical, chemical and biological characteristics of lakes to explain short and long term changes there by creating an "early warning" system "The tradition of not investing much on research until problems pile up and passes its threshold should be strongly criticized. EIA and feasibility studies should be seen as precautionary measures rather than burden or saddle of investment."

The audit found a high incidence of inappropriate expenditure, improper purchases, payments and uncollected revenue
The Federal Main Auditor has found that billions of Birr have been spent inappropriately or have remained uncollected, citing this as a recurring challenge to the governmental organisations and institutions in the country.
Its report, which was presented to Parliament on Tuesday June 2, 2015 for the fiscal year 2013/14, came to this conclusion after having assessed the Financial Appropriateness Audit, Performance Audit and Protection of Basic Services in 133 federal governmental organisations.
The amount of money that remained uncollected by the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority and its nine branches and other 12 government organisations, was found to be 1,039 billion Br while the money spent without proper documentation amounted to 368 million Br in 29 governmental organisations. The audit found that 53.4 million Br had been paid without following the legal procedure in 47 organisations and three branches.
The report urged proper implementation of the laws of the country, especially in the payment and purchasing processes.
Major culprits for inappropriate expenditure were Jimma University, 20.3 million Br; Bahir Dar University, 7.2 million Br; Dilla University, 6.9 million Br; Hawassa University, 3.9 million Br; Arba Minch University, 3.4 million Br; Wolaita University, 3.3 million Br, and Wachamo University, 3.2 million Br.
This money was spent on overtime payments, students' and workers' per diems and payments to officials.
"But the recurring problems that are seen year after year could have been solved and indicate the need for more attention for the issue," stressed Gemechu Dubiso, auditor general, in his report to Parliament.
The audit report also found out that in 63 organisations and three branches, there were purchases amounting to 957.5 million Br that violated the purchase laws. The major slice of this went to the Ministry of Industry.
The Ministry spent 743.8 million Br on the construction of the Bole Lemi Industry Zone, which, according to Melaku Taye, corporate communications director at the Ministry, was all legally done.
"We had sent them the relevant documents on May 14, signed by the Minister (Ahmed Abitew), but they did not consider it," Melaku told Fortune.
The problem at the Ministry occurred because of the selection of 14 contractors and one consultant for the construction of the industry zone without tender or pro forma.
"There is no problem in the process of the procurement as it is done according to the law," Melaku argues. "The problem was that the Audit Bureau did not discuss with us after finalising the report."
The report shows the gaps, but enforcement is not for the Audit Bureau, Gemechu indicated.
"We notify the Federal Ethics & Anti-corruption Commission and the Prime Minister's Office for them to investigate and take measures," he said.
Although the problems are recurrent, there has been improvement in the past five years since Parliament, to which the Federal Main Auditor is accountable, started its term according to Teshome Eshetu, Government Expenditure Control Standing Committee chair at the Parliament.
The problem in universities is because of their engagement in both the academics and the administration. They give more emphasis to the academics and make errors in the administration of development works, Teshome reasoned.
"The administration in Universities needs to be given to other bodies and they have to be made to focus only on the academics," he suggested.
The Auditor General indicated that the performance of his office was 98.52, auditing 133 organisations out of the planned 135. This happened because of the human resource shortage in the office with high turnover and the lag in closing financial accounts.
Hugh Jackman is a movie star, Broadway performer, family man, humanitarian and all-around class act. But did you know he was a coffee shop owner?
The 46-year-old actor was inspired to open his own cafe after traveling to Ethiopia in 2009 as an ambassador for World Vision Australia. There, he meet a young coffee farmer named Dukale, who worked day-in and day-out to provide for his family. While spending time working alongside Dukale and understanding his craft, Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness soon realized the difference fair trade coffee makes to the grower and the environment, and how purchasing it can change lives. Just by having a cup of fair trade coffee a day, they, and others, could change the course of global poverty.
What began as a trip to tell the story of coffee turned into much more. "By the end, we had this whole fairy tale ending of seeing Dukale's name on a brand with a massive national coffee seller," Jackman told The Huffington Post of the creation of his brand, Laughing Man Coffee & Tea, and the documentary film "Dukale's Dream," which documents his friendship with Dukale and how his time in Ethiopia shaped his view on buying and drinking java. Thanks to a new partnership with Keurig, Laughing Man Coffee will be available nationwide, allowing Dukale’s blend to prosper and awareness for these unique coffees to grow.
"Buying fair trade to non is the difference to a grower having pride, having the ability to send their kids to school and making sure they're going to be eating three times a day or not," Jackman said. "I always think about where my coffee is coming from: Who's the grower? What's that grower's situation? What's the community like? Keurig is the number one buyer of fair trade coffee in America and they have programs in every one of the communities that we work with. That should give people a huge amount of confidence and security when you buy their coffee. It does make a big difference. It's not just the nice thing to do, it changes lives."
Keurig is offering four blends of Laughing Man's: 184 Duane St. Blend (the location of Laughing Man Cafe in New York City), Colombia Huila, Ethiopia Sidama and Dukale's Blend (straight from Dukale's farm). One hundred percent of Laughing Man Worldwide profits benefit those in need around the world.
"I don't care who you are, everyone wants the whole planet to have equal opportunity to live," Jackman told HuffPost. "The sad part is knowing that generations of a family have never been out of the cycle of poverty, but we'll get to see it broken."
"Dukale's Dream" premiered last week in New York City and is available to screen with Tugg.com.
Specialty coffee retailer Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (GMCR Analyst Report) launched the Laughing Man branded coffee in K-Cup packs to be brewed exclusively in Keurig hot brewing systems.

The Laughing Man branded K-Cups were made available from Jun 4 exclusively on Keurig Green Mountain’s official site — Keurig.com. Laughing Man coffee has offered four varieties, Dukale’s Blend, 184 Duane St. Blend, Ethiopia Sidama and Colombia Huila, for the coffee lovers at the launch. Laughing Man coffee K-Cup pods will come in boxes of 3, 10 and 16-count carrying price tags of $2.49, $9.99 and $12.99, respectively. The company plans to expand the product to retail stores by the end of this year.

In Dec 2014, Keurig Green Mountain entered into partnership with New York City-based Laughing Man Worldwide, LLC, to use the Laughing Man Coffee and Tea brands. The Laughing Man Coffee and Tea brand produces gourmet coffees and teas which are distributed across the world.

With the partnership of Keurig Green Mountain and Laughing Man, consumers will be able to enjoy these renowned brands of coffee with the convenience of Keurig brewers.

Keurig Green Mountain is geared to popularize the single-cup brewing system in the U.S. It has made several strategic acquisitions like MDS Global Holdings plc (Bevyz) during 2014 to boost its presence in the single-serve category.

These deals further Keurig Green Mountain’s goal of sustaining its dominance in the single-serve brewing market after its K-Cup patents expired in Sep 2012.

The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company also signed agreements to rope in popular brands like Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN Snapshot Report) Starbucks Corp. (SBUX Analyst Report) and The Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT Analyst Report) into its portion pack systems.

(We are reissuing this article to correct an error. The original version, published June 5, 2015, should no longer be reeled upon.)

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