An Indian company is to plant crops such as rice, maize and soya beans on over 20,000 hectares of land in Oromia state, which stretches from west Ethiopia to the southern border, and 15,000 hectares of sugarcane in the Gambella region in the west.

The land is part of 100,000 hectares leased from the Ethiopian government in 2009 by the Bangladore-based company Karuturi Global. The rest of its leased land around Ethiopia has already been planted with crops including rice, maize, palm oil trees and sugarcane.

After forming a 100 per cent owned subsidiary known as Ethiopian Meadows Plc., Karuturi began operations in Ethiopia in 2004 with an initial investment of $5 million. Initially it planted 100 hectares of crops and hired 200 people. Now employing 5,000 people, it has invested almost $150 million in the Ethiopian economy and hopes that its new projects will generate 20,000 additional jobs.

With a total of 250 hectares of floriculture in Ethiopia, in rose farms in Holetta and Woliso about 115 kms southwest of Addis Ababa, the group is the largest exporter of cut roses in the world. The company also has substantial operations in Kenya and Tanzania.