Ploughing New Ground

August 2017
3 line illustrations
224 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Eastern Africa Series
James Currey
BISAC HIS001020, POL067000, SOC042000

Ploughing New Ground

Food, Farming & Environmental Change in Ethiopia

Getnet Bekele

Paperback no rights

An in-depth analysis of the politics and practice of food production and supply in Ethiopia, and their impact on the largely agricultural economy and farming populations, who represent nearly 80 per cent of the country's population.

Winner of the Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize to the author of the best book on East African Studies, 2018.

In October 2016, the Ethiopian administration declared a State of Emergency in response to anti-Government demonstrations and mass riots. While the Government claimed the riots stemmed from subversive activities among large diasporic populations in the West, the evidence suggests that they were provoked by widespread internal dissatisfaction. Land deals by the Government with foreign investors, the building of vast hydroelectric dams, sugar estates and industry parks, and urban sprawl have put pressure on agricultural, rural areas. Today, dispossessions, drought and social unrest surround fears of the worst food shortages in decades. Examining these developments in Ethiopia's lake region, the author shows how transformations in state-society relations and the organization of production and exchange have impacted on a population of smallholder farmers for whom agriculture is not only the mainstay of the economy but a way of life.

Getnet Bekele is Associate Professor of History at Oakland University, MI, where he teaches African History and the Environmental and Economic History of Africa and the Global South.

Table of Contents

Landscape Pastoral: The making and remaking of a grassland environment, 1886-1916
Negotiating a Landscape: Continuity and change in a grassland environment, 1917-1941
Blurring the Boundaries: The ascendancy of crop production in a flexible environment, 1942-1955
Fresh Encounters and Morphing Strategies: The changing organization of production in an era of agricultural intervention, 1956-1965
Inputs, Outputs and the Farm: Transformations in the science, politics and praxis of agricultural development, 1966-1974
Competition and Co-existence: Creating space for small- to large-scale farming, 1966-1974
Of Production and Production Relations: Farming in an era of revolutionary change and socialist development, 1975-1991
Vicious Circle: Agricultural development at the time of "revolutionary democracy", 1991-2016


Winner of the Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize to the author of the best book on East African Studies, 2018.

Richly documented and beautifully written, Getnet Bekele's book merits reading by anyone interested in comparative understanding of agrarian and environmental change, rural development, and food security in Africa and elsewhere. AFRICAN STUDIES REVIEW

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