FDI in Large-Scale Agriculture in Africa

​In 2019 Atkeyelsh Persson published "Foreign Direct Investment in Large-Scale Agriculture in Africa: Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability in Ethiopia". The book (presumably) draws on doctoral work done at UCT (finished in 2016) and most of the data / findings presented come from 2014 or before. The book offers unique insight into environmental and sustainability impacts. The case studies are valuable references for readers and researchers. Unfortunately the book sells for US$155.00.

That said, the book is frustrating to read. For example, the author states that large-scale land acquisitions are/were concentrated in Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz regions, with one in SNNP that was excluded (and was listed as not operational in 2014). The reason this is confusing is that the author cites Rahmato's (2011) work (Land to the Investors), which lists 22 agricultural investments above 5,000 hectares outside of these regions, as well as many others in Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz. There is no source listed for the data that is presented (e.g. in Figure 7.2, page 71), that are used to arrive at these conclusions. It can take years to publish a book, but what is stated was not the case in 2014 (when data collection seems to have stopped) nor in 2016 (when the dissertation was defended). In 2011, Rahmato had shown that Oromia was the region with the most foreign investment occurring, but Oromia does not appear anywhere in the study (raising questions about data and how the conclusions were drawn). The policy changes that took place in 2013 (well before the dissertation was submitted) are not included, which seems a critical omission given that foreign, large-scale, agricultural investment effectively stopped from that point forward. With many interviews conducted in 2014, it is unclear how this did not factor into the study. There is no mention that one of the case studies (Karuturi) was cancelled in 2015, by the Government of Ethiopia (nor all the legal proceedings that followed). Many questions.

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