Chinese firms and Gulf sheiks are snatching up farmland worldwide. Why?

Chinese firms and Gulf sheiks are snatching up farmland worldwide. Why?

The world’s population is soaring past 7 billion. Food prices keep spiking every few years. Freshwater supplies in plenty of areas are dwindling.

A Sudanese farmer prepares his land for irrigation on the banks of the Nile River in Khartoum. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah-Reuters)

And so, in response, a slew of countries and investors — from Chinese state corporations to Gulf sheiks to Wall Street firms — have started buying up farmland overseas, in an apparent attempt to acquire as much precious soil and water as possible. This phenomenon is known as “land grabbing,” and it has been accelerating ever since the massive surge in grain prices back in 2007…

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