Navigation Links
First global assessment of land and water 'grabbing' published in national journal

As world food and energy demands grow, nations and some corporations increasingly are looking to acquire quality agricultural land for food production. Some nations are gaining land by buying up property and accompanying water resources in other, generally less wealthy countries.

Sometimes called "land grabbing," this practice can put strains on land and water resources in impoverished countries where the land, and needed water, has been "grabbed" for commercial-scale agriculture.

A new study by the University of Virginia and the Polytechnic University of Milan, and currently published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides the first global quantitative assessment of the water-grabbing phenomenon, which has intensified in the last four years largely in response to a 2007-08 increase in world food prices.

"Over less than a decade, the rates of land and water grabbing have dramatically increased," said Paolo D'Odorico, Ernest H. Ern Professor of Environmental Sciences in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, and a study co-author. "Food security in the grabbing countries increasingly depends on 'grab-land agriculture,' while in the grabbed countries, local populations are excluded from the use of large parcels of land. Even just a fraction of the grabbed resources would be sufficient to substantially decrease the malnourishment affecting some of the grabbed countries."

The study shows that foreign land acquisition is a global phenomenon, involving 62 grabbed countries and 41 grabbers and affecting every continent except Antarctica. Africa and Asia account for 47 percent and 33 percent of the global grabbed area, respectively, and about 90 percent of the grabbed area is in 24 countries.

Countries most affected by the highest rates of water grabbing are Indonesia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The highest rates of irrigated water grabbing occur in Tanzania and Sudan.

Countries most active in foreign land acquisition are located in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Overall, about 60 percent of the total grabbed water is appropriated, through land grabbing, by companies in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom, Egypt, China and Israel.

D'Odorico said that in most cases where land has been acquired, there is a switch from natural ecosystems such as forests and savannas or small-holder agriculture run by local communities, to large-scale commercial farming run by foreign corporations.

He said one possible positive effect of foreign land acquisition is that "corporations can afford investments in technology, such as irrigation systems, that increase agricultural productivity while creating employment opportunities for local populations."

However, there also are negative implications, D'Odorico said, such as that the local populations are excluded from the direct use and management of their land and water resources and concern that in the long run, foreign land acquisitions could lead to overuse of water and land with negative effects on the environment (whereas local small-holder farmers are often in a better position to be good stewards and managers of their land and water).

"By losing control of part of their land and water, in many cases local people are giving up to wealthier nations their most precious natural resources resources that could be used now or in the future to enhance their own food security," D'Odorico said.

He noted that countries such as Sudan and Tanzania have the potential to become new "breadbaskets" because of either rain or river flow, but lack investments in agricultural technologies that would enhance productivity. For this reason, he said, foreign corporations see in them strong potential for high-profit investments and thus are rushing to "grab" these lands and water.

"It is hard to think that this phenomenon may be stopped," D'Odorico said. "However, both the United Nations and the national governments should ensure that some of the wealth generated by foreign investments in agricultural land are used to benefit local populations, for example by sustainably improving their food security and enhancing the productivity of small-holder agriculture.

"There is also the need for institutions that can make sure that locals are involved in decisions about the reallocation of rights on land and water resources."

D'Odorico's study co-authors are Maria Cristina Rulli and Antonio Saviori of Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) in Italy.


Contact: Fariss Samarrai
University of Virginia

Related biology news :

1. Kessler Foundation implements Ekso Bionics first commercial robotic exoskeleton
2. Research reveals first evidence of hunting by prehistoric Ohioans
3. First model of how buds grow into leaves
4. American College of Rheumatology releases first classification criteria for polymyalagia rheumatica
5. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
6. First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop
7. FirstMark Announces New Hire Jay Houtman as Southeast Regional Sales Manager
8. FirstMark Exhibiting at the Inaugural Atlanta Clinical Cardiology Update
9. New technology tracks sparrow migration for first time from California to Alaska
10. First mass extinction linked to marine anoxia
11. Scientists complete first-ever emperor penguin count from space
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/6/2015)... MATEO, Calif. , Oct. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... company, today announced enhancements to its software portfolio ... expression analysis kit for differential expression in eukaryotes. ... Platform, which is a cloud-based genomic analysis solution ... advance scientific discovery from next-generation sequencing efforts. ...
(Date:9/30/2015)... SACRAMENTO, Calif. , Sept. 30, 2015  With ... and the number of new SCIs estimated to reach ... like Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living ... 28 ILCs in California opening ... a range of programs and services, notably assistive technology ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... , Sept. 29, 2015  iDAvatars is excited to be ... its product to market. The official announcement was recently made ... event in San Francisco , where ... powered by IBM Watson. "It is both an ... 100 companies to bring to market the cognitive power of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... and TORONTO , Oct. 13, 2015 ... announced that it has entered into a non-binding Letter of ... private Israeli company that has developed a proprietary cooling technology ... to varicoceles. the United States ... between the ages of 25 and 44 diagnosed as infertile.  ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Clinovo recently appointed Jeff Parr and Ed ... growing clinical data solutions business. , Jeff Parr has spent the past decade providing ... Avery Dennison, Thermo Fisher, and Ab Sciex to name a few. He is ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... ... Proove Biosciences, a commercial and research leader ... Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) Pain Center to study ... Clinical Objectives Linking Genotypic and Phenotypic Association with Pain Outcomes) is one of ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... the United States , Canada ... 14% of all new cases of kidney cancer.   --> ... and Europe .  PRCC represents about 14% ... Hutchison China MediTech Limited ("Chi-Med") (AIM: HCM) today announces that Hutchison ... ("AstraZeneca") have completed enrolment in a global Phase II study of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: