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 w
|Contact: Fariss Samarrai|
University of Virginia