Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Global Allotments

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Global Allotments

Between the White Nile on the left of this image and the smaller Blue Nile on the right, irrigated agriculture spreads across the Sudanese Sahara.
Today it may be for cotton fibre, tomorrow it will likely be biofuels, the day after tomorrow it will be for food.

But not necessarily for Sudan, or even for Africa, despite the impoverishment of people and patchiness of food supply across the continent. Huge areas of agricultural land are being "secured" in advance for wealthier nations or those betting on future value as food insecurity starts to bite. Hard to swallow?

Various reports are documenting this land grab and the International Food Policy Research Institute estimates between US$20 billion and US$30 billion are being spent yearly by rich countries on agricultural land in developing countries. John Vidal in yesterday's Guardian quotes Devinder Sharma, analyst with the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security in India, predicting civil unrest:

"Outsourcing food production will ensure food security for investing countries but would leave behind a trail of hunger, starvation and food scarcities for local populations," he said. "The environmental tab of highly intensive farming – devastated soils, dry aquifer, and ruined ecology from chemical infestation – will be left for the host country to pick up."


ar_jay said...

Facebook link to this elicited the following fascinating and frightening update yesterday:

"Just starting a 3-year project for the rehabiltation of this project actually to grow food and foddercrops skipping the bio fuels! Now even in summer there is only enough water for 80% of the area and only 20% in winter!"

Feels like watching tomorrow's history being written now.

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