Japan Times | Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010
READERS IN COUNCILLet's welcome Japanese investors By ABDIRASHID DULANE
Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of EthiopiaTokyo
In response to C.W. Nicol's April 18 letter, "Honored to accept invitation," may I first thank you (Nicol) for kindly accepting my invitation. I welcome your visit. And knowing your concern and close attachment to environmental protection issues, let me assure you that you will have ample opportunity to see numerous environment-friendly development activities in Ethiopia.
What I would like you and the esteemed readers of The Japan Times to know is the ironic fact that those who had hitherto criticized the government for not opening up rural land for private investment when it was not being utilized are now blaming it for selling out rural land. This clearly indicates that the whole idea of a "land grab" in Ethiopia is implausible and politically motivated. Land is not for sale; it is being leased and the investment will remain when the lease period expires.
Recently, Kanayo Nwanze, head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, told a news conference: "It is the wrong language to call them land grabs. They are investments in farmland--like investments in oil exploration." He added that "the fact that there are distortions does not suggest that this should be banned." Land investments in Ethiopia have brought employment, are contributing to the expansion of rural infrastructure, and are helping to ensure food security in our overall strategy to defeat poverty. I am confident that you will observe these facts during your visit.Mr. Nicol, we can both agree that Japanese companies — the kind of companies that you described — would benefit themselves while helping to build sustainable livelihoods for farmers and protecting the environment by investing in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia. So let's join hands in encouraging these companies to invest, mutually benefit and share their knowhow with us.