Company plans to exit country after allotment of land canceled. Karuturi among first foreign investors to lease Ethiopian land.
The company wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn accusing the state of nationalizing its farming investments and said it should be given “adequate and appropriate” redress. The Sept. 20 letter was emailed to Bloomberg by Karuturi Managing Director Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi.
“We stand tired and defeated and wish to exit Ethiopia,” Karuturi said in the letter, citing a government decision to “unilaterally and illegally cancel our investment and trade license.” The company also asked Hailemariam to allow the company to re-export all its equipment.
Karuturi, based in Bengaluru, India, was one of the first foreign investors to lease land in Ethiopia after the government offered incentives and identified 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) as suitable for commercial farming. The government canceled the lease two years ago after saying the company failed to adequately develop its plot.
The Agriculture Ministry’s land investment agency notified Karuturi in December 2015 that the lease was canceled because development occurred on only 1,200 hectares. Karuturi disputed the state’s findings.
Karuturi has also written to Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia Anurag Srivastava informing him of the company’s decision to leave the country, according to email correspondence Karuturi forwarded to Bloomberg.
Ethiopian Information Minister Negeri Lencho referred requests for comment to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, whose director, Fitsum Arega, said he would comment later.