Ethiopia body suspends farm lease programme after poor results

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, March 25 (Reuters) - An Ethiopian state body that has been involved in leasing tracts of land for commercial farming has suspended the issuance of new licences until it completes a review because of scant progress in developing areas leased so far, an official said.

The Horn of Africa country in 2011 allocated 3.6 million hectares of land, close to the size of Switzerland, for firms seeking to invest in agriculture, mostly around its western Gambela and Benishangul Gumuz regions.

More than 2.43 million hectares has been leased to nearly 5,700 domestic and foreign firms at 20 Ethiopian birr ($0.90) per hectare on average, said Daniel Zenebe, spokesman for the Agriculture Investment and Land Administration Agency.

But investors have only developed 30 percent of the land leased. "There is a need for a review on where it has gone wrong. The suspension is indefinite," he said.  Read more


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