Yet it is one of the so-called "African lions:" its economy grew at a brisk 7.5 percent last year, more than twice the rate of emerging economies as a whole. Ethiopia is also the target of aggressive "land grabs." Since 2008, the government has leased or sold nearly 10 million acres of prime farmland in the less-populated lowlands to investors from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. According to Oxfam International, Ethiopia now supports the export of fruit, vegetables, and flowers worth $220 million a year. Those exports boost the nation's foreign exchange, but they may also undercut the food security of poor farmers and reduce production for the domestic market. One displaced farmer told Human Rights Watch, "We want you to be clear that the government brought us here...to die....They brought us no food, they gave away our land to the foreigners so we can't even move back."
It is helpful to remember that there are many Ethiopias. Ethiopia's regions are as distinct as, say, Arizona and Minnesota. It is also helpful to set aside any preconceived notions about population and food. Malthusians argue that population growth inevitably leads to hunger, as the resource "pie" is divided into ever smaller slices. The most obvious flaw in this theory is that technology has thus far allowed the size of the pie to increase. Another is that food and other resources are not distributed equitably; some people get much larger servings than others. The pie as a whole may be big enough for everyone, but only the slices of the poor continue to shrink.