Ethiopia promises to meet its Millennium Goal objectives of creating a middle class and providing education and health care for its indigenous tribes. India promises to reduce its green house gas emissions from and dependency upon fossil fuels through production of alternative biofuels. Both Ethiopia and India find that leasing or buying large tracts of "fertile basket" land, land traditionally used for herding and small scale shifting cultivation (shifting between small plots that are cultivated then left to revert to nature), facilitates the accomplishment of their promises.
These ofttimes secret land deals, with hidden terms and conditions, that transfer vast sections of land to foreign governments, private investors and land hedge funds, are called land grabs. The inherent problems in this approach to fulfilling millennial and ecological promises produce effects upon local indigenous people, land ecosystems, hydro-ecosystems and upon the long-term outlook for productive modernization, agro-industrialization, food and fuel security.
Ethiopia is a good example of current land grabbing — offering for lease or sale large, expansive tracts of land — because of the upcoming June operational target date for the Gibe III dam built by the World Bank and China on the Omo River. Terms and conditions of land-grab transactions, most often kept secret, are known in a few instances. It is known that land has been sold at between $0.50 to $1.00 per hectare or has been leased at around $1.25 per hectare in 50 to 100 year leases (a hectare is about two-and-a-half acres). It is known that the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had completed more than 800 transactions and that he was proposing twice that number for implementation.
Countries in Africa making land available in land-grabs are Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Congo, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa, Nambia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania. Other countries, such as Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Vietnam, Madagascar and others in South America, are also inviting governments and corporations to participate in land-grab deals. In an ironic twist, the governments are collaborators with the agro-colonists who are taking land while simultaneously representing the peoples victimized in foreign land grabs, such as the Mursi and Anuak of Omo Valley and Gambella.
Ethiopia's hidden motive is that national and local land brokers are reported to receive large payments from sales revenue that they use for military weaponization in order to quell protesting indigenous people not wanting to yield to the imperative of abandoning their land to make way for ecosystem-blighting large scale foreign agro-business.