Tigrayan farmers take on Afar breeders

The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 1295:  Tension has grown in the Afar Regional State after Tigrayan arable farmers settled on large private land areas.  According to a tally effected in September 2010, ten private agricultural investors control 5,000 hectares of land around Gewani, in the Awash valley (Afar Regional State). Seven of these companies are owned by Tigrayans, totalling 4,790 hectares in leases attributed by the local authorities, linked to the government in Addis Ababa. The two largest of these firms, Tsegaye Agricultural Development and Lucy Agricultural Development, each hold 1500 hectares. This redistribution of land has caused local conflicts, which have sometimes turned violent. In one case, Gewani’s administrator, Yakud Hawino, was killed at the end of April following a vendetta linked to land issues. One of the three other firms with a lease in this zone is owned by Fatouma Abdella, the wife of Ismael Ali Siro, the President of the Regional Government.