Ian Derry was shocked when he got the news. A group of men had ransacked his company’s factory and burned down several buildings. A decade of work, tonnes of produce, tens of millions of dollars invested in equipment – it was all gone in the span of a few hours.
Derry is the director of africaJUICE, a Dutch company whose fruit processing plant in Ethiopia was one of almost a dozen factories attacked during the most recent outburst of protests by the Oromo ethnic group. Now foreign agri-businesses like his face a tough choice: stay, despite the risk, or leave and lose their investment.
“We are still assessing the damage but the losses are massive,” says Derry. Since its launch in 2009, the company had grown its staff in Ethiopia to around 2,000 people and was bustling year-round with workers picking and processing passion fruit and mango. Now the plant looks like the set of a dystopian film. Rows of brand-new tractors are charred and unusable. The walls are black with soot and the ground is covered in dried-out juice and smashed computers. “No one could have seen this coming,” says Derry......See More
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