Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc, an Ethiopian company owned by billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi, said it plans to invest $100 million in a rice farm in western Ethiopia next year to kick-start the stalled project.
African countries that missed out on Gulf cash pouring into agricultural projects elsewhere on the continent are trying to entice Arab investors with deals they say are designed to avoid problems of the past.
Ethiopia's huge agricultural output has brought about an economic miracle for the nation. But inhabitants are being pushed out of their native land by foreign investors and have no share in the profits.
As ratings agencies and risk insurers increasingly factor in land tenure risk to their premiums, investors need to be aware of the potential costs that might be incurred through disruption, sabotage or loss of assets and the further possibility that the strong-arm tactics used by some African states to resolve disputes could invalidate or seriously impact on the level of insurance cover.
The Ethiopian military responded to an attack on a farm in Gambella region owned by Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc with arbitrary arrests, rape, and other abuses against scores of local villagers, says Human Rights Watch.
The attack on the Saudi Star Company has served as a pretext for a hunting down of innocent civilians and a campaign of murder, torture, harassment and intimidation in the remote corners of the country, warns Anywaa Survival.
A controversial resettlement program in Ethiopia is the latest battleground in the global race to secure prized farmland and water. Correspondent Cassandra Herrman reports as part of the Food for 9 Billion series, a NewsHour partnership with the Center for Investigative Reporting, Homelands Productions and Marketplace.