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OMO VALLEY – These striking images show before and after pictures in the Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, where proposed organic cotton projects have been linked with land grabs of virgin uncultivated land, and the removal of populations and human rights abuses. The projects have clear connections with a leading Turkish textile manufacturer, and Ecotextile News is verifying whether organic cotton supply arrangements from the projects are already in place with three major western retailers.

The Omo Valley Farm Cooperation is a 10,000 hectare cotton farm seemingly operated by Else Textiles Group, a Turkish company with a multi US$ million turnover in Ethiopia. This area was cleared of native woodland around 2012 and our pictures show the dramatic impact land clearance has had on this area.

Reports suggest that it was not just any land that was cleared of woodland and people – it was land from wildlife refuges and protected areas whose status was 'de-gazetted' to make way for industrial farming. ICEA has now confirmed it certifies the organic cotton cultivation of Else Addis – a company which it says: "rents nearly 4,600 Ha from the Omo Valley Corporation that in 2012 leased 10.000Ha from the Government of Ethiopia." (Updated:2014-11-08 03:52:54).

Before and after: Cleared by the Omo Valley Farm Cooperation

Google Earth image after land clearance, screen shot taken November 2014

Local children with Omo river and water extraction pipe Copyright: Jane Baldwin

Ecotextile News is continuing to investigate this on-going news story. See Organic cotton project linked with deforestation for further insight. 

Web: www.janebaldwin.com

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