Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Global Assessment of Land and Water ‘Grabbing’

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
University of Virginia
Summary:
A new study provides the first global quantitative assessment of land and water “grabbing” for food production by wealthier nations in generally poorer countries.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Virginia. The original article was written by Fariss Samarrai. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. C. Rulli, A. Saviori, P. D'Odorico. Global land and water grabbing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; 110 (3): 892 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1213163110

Cite This Page:

University of Virginia. "First Global Assessment of Land and Water ‘Grabbing’." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122142845.htm>.
University of Virginia. (2013, January 22). First Global Assessment of Land and Water ‘Grabbing’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122142845.htm
University of Virginia. "First Global Assessment of Land and Water ‘Grabbing’." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122142845.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins