Ethiopia's state project to make it into one of the world's top sugar producers requires the resettling of semi-nomadic herders in permanent villages. Which priority wins out: cultural preservation or economic progress?
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Sixteen ethnic groups occupy the scorching, low-lying region, raising cattle, and growing crops, often along the fertile banks of the Omo River that wriggles its way through the bush.
Western tourists, archaeologists, and anthropologists are regular visitors to observe the unique cultures and pre-human fossils.
But the Ethiopian government has begun a project to build sugar farms in the area in an effort to take the nation into the top ten of global sugar exporters. The plan, which would require resettling semi-nomadic herders in permanent villages, puts the effort to modernize Ethiopia's archaic agricultural system at loggerheads with the desire to preserve the cultural identities of local ethnic groups.
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