The Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), targets achieving food security and becoming a middle-income country by 2025. One part of the strategy is encouraging large-scale agricultural investment (LSAI) by domestic and international investor. To that effect, ample arable land in various region is being leased out, Benishangul-Gumuz region being one of them.
This paper aims at generating geospatial and socioeconomic information required to support responsible agricultural investment in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. Particularity, the analysis is focused on landscape transformation and its implication on large scale agricultural investment. The study utilized satellite image to drive information such as land use/land cover conditions, change over time and hotspot areas; where major landscape transformation took place. On the other hand, the implication of landscape transformation on LSAI was addressed by the socioeconomic survey in four sample Woredas in Benishangul-Gumuz.
The study found out that, although a high rate of arable land is being given to investors, it is highly underutilized. The utlized land is usually at the expense of forest and woodlands, leading to deforestation and diminishing of wildlife. Additionally, investors usually fail to meet the expectation of the local communities, concerning creating job opportunities, infrastructure development, as well as meeting expected agricultural production. Furthermore, land is transferred with no prior community consultation, sufficient compensation, creation of sense of ownership and without proper complaint mechanism in place-which creates tension between local farmers and investors.
As a result, various mechanisms should be in place to address the adverse impact of LSAI on environmental, economic and social aspects. The study recommends, community consulting during and after land transfer. Additionally, there should be legal intervention on investors who fail to utilize land they have acquired. Last but not least, communists should be empowered to take an active role in developmental work and get continuous training and technical support in protecting the environment and enhancing agricultural productivity.
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