A drive to become a world leading sugar producer threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people in rural areas.Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Lower Omo Valley in south-western Ethiopia is a vast and rugged region of mountains and valleys, inhabited largely by nomadic agro-pastoralist tribes numbering some 200,000 people. Many live a simple existence, living in straw thatched huts and have little contact with the outside world. But the Ethiopian governments new found appetite for large-scale sugar production threatens the very existence of many of these tribes.Nearly 300,000 hectares of land in the Omo and Mago National Parks, which comprises much of the Lower Omo Valley, has been earmarked for the Kuraz Sugar Development programme. Backed by large-scale investment from Indian companies, the programme aims to help increase overall sugar production in Ethiopia to 2.3 million tonnes by 2015, with the goal of achieving a 2.5 per cent global share by 2017.
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