Its a been awhile since I have had time to put more than 140 characters down. Even as I write this, a stack of reports from auditors following up on our survey sits in front of me, crying out for analysis.
So much is happening- someone recently remarked to me that spring 2011 is like 1989 and September 11th all rolled into one.
Anyway, on the land business (as they say here in Liberia), I found this article in Guardian to be an nice summary of the global rush for farmland. The scope feels huge, even in a big country like Ethiopia:
Gambella has offered investors 1.1 million hectares, nearly a quarter of its best farmland, and 896 companies have come to the region in the last three years. They range from Saudi billionaire Al Amoudi, who is constructing a 20-mile canal to irrigate 10,000 hectares to grow rice, to Ethiopian businessmen who have plots of less than 200 hectares.
The article opens with the fact that Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of humanitarian good and development assistance. Politically motivated assistance from the US probably explains some of this funding. The article doesn’t elaborate further on whether leasing farmland to foreign countries on the cheap and growing food for export is problematic when some people in your country go hungry, but it leaves an open question.