The Ethiopian Horticulture and Agricultural Investment Authority says it is negotiating with Karuturi Global over a request to continue operations on 7,000 ha in Gambela, Ethiopia
The Indian company Karuturi Global requests to resume its operations in Ethiopia
By Teshome Tadesse
(translated to English by Anywaa Survival Organisation)
The Ethiopian Horticulture and Agricultural investment authority says that it is negotiating with Karuturi Global over its request to continue operations in Ethiopia, after long disagreement with the host government over its 100,000 hectare farm project in Gambela Region.
In a memo sent to Addis Zemen newspaper, Ato Yacob Yala, CEO of the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agricultural Investment Authority, confirmed that the contract with the Indian company that had invested in large-scale commercial agriculture in the Gambela Region was terminated due to the company’s failure to develop 100,000 hectares as agreed to in the contract. However, after discussions with the Indian government, both parties agreed to consider how Karuturi could return to develop 7000 hectares in Gambela.
The CEO of the Horticulture and Agricultural Investment Authority, Ato Yacob Yala, confirmed that these negotiations were taking place with the company and Indian senior authorities at the Ethiopian embassy in India at the request of senior Indian authorities, who are seeking permmission the company to resume its operations in Ethiopia. The government of Ethiopia in general and the Authority in particular are considering providing Karuturi with the portion of lands that Karuturi utilised within the original concession, not only the 5000 hectares that the government says the company developed but the 7000 hectares that the company claims to have developed.
According to Ato Yacob Yala, “if the company intends to develop the hectares of land under consideration without asking additional land, a new lease agreement will be prepared. The Authority is already preparing a new lease agreement that considers the capacity of the company and what is expected of the government for effective management of the contract."
It was recalled that the company received 100,000 hectares of land in Gambela region and agreed to develop 50,000 hectares annually to complete the development of land in two years. But the company developed only 5000 hectares in five years.
Ato Yacob says that “land is important to the country's development and should not be allowed to go to waste.” He mentioned that land could be transfer to other investors or distributed for other purposes if not developed. He also explained that on different occasions the issue of the underdevelopment of land was brought to the attention of the company but it failed to act resulting in the termination of the contract and restrictions on the company expanding beyond the land that the company claims to have already developed.
However, the company on various occasions has maintained that, “it has developed 7000 hectares and it is entitled to the land it has developed”. But the CEO of the Authority stated that the company could not provide evidence to support its claim that it had developed the 7,000 ha of land. With this lack of evidence to support the company's claim, the court was unable to issue a judgement on the case.