AGRICULTURE-ETHIOPIA: Can Foreign-Owned Farms Solve Food Crisis?

December 13, 2008

ADDIS ABABA, Dec 13 (IPS) – Tola Melka was planning to throw a traditional party at his shanty home in rural central Ethiopia, anticipating a bumper harvest. He was grief-stricken in late October when unexpected rains totally destroyed his almost ripened teff, a native staple crop used to make spongy bread.

“I expected the harvest this year would be different,” said the Melka, frustration evident on his face. “I wonder what I’ll be feeding my children in the months to come.”

Last year, Melka and his wife, Shashe Dima — then pregnant with their sixth child — endured overwhelming hunger due to lack of rain. This year too much rain — three consecutive weeks fell at precisely the wrong time — could make it even worse.

“Nature seems to be at odds with us,” says Dima, seated on a hide, breast-feeding her last-born. Melka is just one of the many farmers whose tiny plots of will fail to sustain them through the year. –More–