Rich Nations Snap Up Third World Farmland

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2008 3:24 PM CST
Flooded farmland in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Rich nations are buying up farmland in developing countries and drawing the ire of some critics, the Guardian reports. One UN official said the purchases, designed as a hedge against food shortages, could put poor nations at risk of starving to feed the wealthy. In "this scramble for soil I don't see any place for the small farmers," said one analyst, who added that African and Southeast Asian countries will make good money from the sales.

One insider called the trend "unprecedented," adding, "we're used to seeing 100,000-hectare sales. This is more than 10 times as much.” Governments in wealthy but land-poor states, most in the Middle East, are spearheading the drive. But they run the risk of inciting political rage, said one expert: "Land is an extremely sensitive thing. This could go horribly wrong if you don't learn the lessons of history."