Saudi Arabia

All hands to the pumps

Are there any answers to this looming crisis? Some countries are buying land. There is vague talk about governments introducing “water management reforms”. Even more opaquely, there are calls for “multi-country discussions on trans-boundary issues, international trade and investment flows”.

Farms in Saudi Arabia?

“The food crisis in the spring of 2008 was a warning sign,” according to al-Obeid. Saudi Arabia is a net importer of agricultural products, especially rice, corn and soya. This fact is pushing the state to invest overseas. We’ve sent government and private-sector delegations to Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt, Sudan, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan. These delegations have been very warmly received.”

10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now: 7. The Rent-A-Country

Growing crops for strangers, of course, is nothing new. The long, grim march of colonialism was driven by Europe’s penchant for sugar, tea, tobacco and other crops that don’t flourish in northern climes. But as climate change and growing populations put ever more pressure on the earth, state-backed searches for land and food contracts as part of a national food-security strategy strike many as fundamentally new.