May 10, 2012
Indian-listed Karuturi Global, which has leased land in Ethiopia for commercial farming, plans to export cereals, sugar and edible oil to South Sudan and Kenya upon completing cultivation in 2014, its director said on Wednesday.
The Horn of Africa country has earmarked some four million hectares of land for firms seeking to invest in agriculture, often around remote and sparsely-populated regions in its west.
Karuturi Global is among 32 firms that have snapped up land in the vast country, and is farming rice and cereals on its 100,000 hectares plot in Gambella province.
Managing Director Sai Ramakrishna Karaturi told Reuters the firm has so far completed cultivation of 15,000 hectares, and plans to complete 20,000 hectares of cereals and 15,000 hectares of sugar cane by next year.
"When we are done by 2014 we will have a million tonnes of cereals, 100,000 tonnes of edible oil and 200,000 tonnes of sugar," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum gathering in Addis Ababa.
"Everything is for Ethiopia, but we will also export to South Sudan and Kenya," Karuturi said.
Official data shows annual land rental rates for foreign firms ranged from $12.8 per hectare to just $1.15, one of the cheapest in the world.
Apart from Karuturi, others investors include Indian firms Shapoorji with 50,000 hectares and BHO with 27,000 hectares, Saudi Star Agricultural Development with 10,000 hectares and China's Huana Dafengyuan Agriculture with 25,000 hectares.
About commercial farming in Ethiopia
According to research conducted by Access Capital, 347.1 thousand hectares of land in Ethiopia are in use for commercial farming by 23 local and international firms and individuals. The largest single nationalities were Indian investors, followed closely by six local ones, five Diaspora investments and a single Chinese investment.