Ethiopia : The bread-basket of Africa

Post by Mark

A friend of mine wrote the article below which I thought was interesting to share:

The madness of International development assistance
Ethiopia is one of the most ‘green’ farmlands in the world. Over 80% of the country is blessed with plenty of rain all year, which is the main reason for the fertile farmland that according to international observers, ‘almost everything will grow on it’. And even though the population of Ethiopia has grown with an exploding population of 33.5 million in 1983 to 90 million in 2010, the country has still enough farmland to feed their entire population.

So what is the cause of the famine among the people of in the south -dryer- part of this African agriculture paradise?

Why the need for another concert by Bono and U2? Is it to collect money for the starving people or for their own ego? I would put my money on the last option because while lip syncing how unequal the world wealth has been divided, the super-millionaires of the rock band like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, are officially registered in The Netherlands due to the friendlier tax climate.

Back to the subject. Every day one human being out of every thousand dies of malnutrition in Ethiopia. Especially in the refugee camp in Dolo Ado the situation is unbearable. Suffering a lack of almost every basic life support, these people have become the ‘face’ of the tragedy. Not enough food, fresh water, medicines or proper sanitation has made this camp of 120,000 refugees a horrible place. The Ethiopian Government states that approximately 250,000 people are currently under the direct threat of starvation. Other aid organizations estimate this number at least twice as high.

Now it’s clear that the Government of Ethiopia hugely benefits from these numbers. In the last 20 years the International community has donated a staggering 25 billion US dollars in aid to the area. Money from countless national and private organizations, aid money which has become an indispensable part of the Ethiopian economy.

In the most positive way to look at it you can say that the Government has failed time after time to implement a fair and solid policy for all its citizens. Although it has become a consensus among the donor-countries that Ethiopia is a top-down autocratic and corrupt society, famine is for the Government an external marketing tool of which the majority of their own citizens are not even aware of. For them it’s normal just to wait for the yearly food distribution instead of producing crops themselves. This kind of behavior, encouraged by their Government, has led to a so called ‘dependency-syndrome’ among the people. Even in the fertile parts of the country there is little to no food production. Waiting for International food-aid has become a part of their culture. For some they’ve been doing this for more than 30 years.

An Indian businessman Mr Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, who has the aim to become the single biggest food producer of the world and the founder and managing director of the Indian based Karuturi Ltd., has leased 311,000 hectares of farmland from the Ethiopian Government. He describes his acquired land as ‘virgin’ and ‘pure gold’.

Mr Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi is a businessman and by no means a philanthropist. In his own words: “ I sell to the highest bidder, in or outside the African continent. Right now the African market is more profitable. The International AID organizations are one of my most important customers.”

In the month May of this year the Ethiopian Government received 340 million US dollar for food aid from the United States. No questions were asked, even though in the same month the Ethiopian Government bought 100 million dollars worth of army tanks from the Ukraine. With the money that was supplied, the harvest of Mr Karuturi was packaged in bags labeled with ‘US-AID’ and then delivered to the nearby refugee camps.

It’s just one example why development-aid keeps poverty and dependency alive. Of course there always have to be funds for people in immediate need due to disasters, no doubt about that. People in need because of catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions need immediate help by International AID organizations. There can be no misunderstanding about that. But the real question remains if the 0.7% of the GDP which Kuwait and other rich countries provide for the development of ‘poor’ countries does really bring any change for the people? Will it actually help them or are the real beneficiary the billion dollar AID-industry and the corrupt Governments?

Asia never received any substantial development help, but has currently become one of the fastest growing markets. And China, now an international recognized economic super-power, also never received any development aid. International AID for Africa actually blocks its development and is in the end the ultimate form of discrimination and neo-colonialism.

Army Tanks bought last June by Ethiopia
Karuturi Global in Ethiopia
TV report : Karuturi Global on farming in Ethiopia
NY Times – The Netherlands, the new tax shelter
Company site Karuturi – ‘Ethiopia land of opportunities’
USAID factsheet 2008-2011

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