Touch the Soil News #108 – Includes 1 video
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) has the fastest growing population in the world. The increase in people is driven primarily from immigration.
It is no secret the UAE is food insecure and is looking to shore up its food security. The UAE is farmland and water challenged – totally incapable of growing its own food within its national borders. As we reported in an earlier news piece, food imports into the UAE totaled $100 billion in 2014. The UAE government estimates that imports will rise to $400 billion in 10 years.
National Emblem of the U.A.E.
National Emblem of the Republic of Sudan
The UAE, like other food-insecure nations, are cautious about global food companies who put money before people, instability in food-growing nations, climate change and speculators that can drive up prices beyond what demand suggests. Logically speaking, the UAE wants to grow more of its own food.
Large financial interests from the UAE, under the name of Al Dahra Holding, are looking to Africa to create the world’s largest irrigated farm. Al Dahra Holding is affiliated with the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan – a member of UAE Royalty.
Al Dahra Holding presently farms some 200,000 acres with operations in several countries. Particular to Al Dahra is its goal to be totally vertically integrated when it comes to food. This means not only growing food, but being involved through processing, packaging and distribution.
Al Dahra Holding is meeting with officials of the Republic of the Sudan to arrange the creation of the world’s largest irrigated farm – 2.4 million acres. To put the size of this farm into context imagine a farm that is 1 mile wide and runs for 3,750 miles – the distance from San Francisco to New York plus another 850 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. On average, it takes 1 million gallons of water to grow an acre of potatoes or other water-intensive produce. For perspective, the largest U.S. vegetable farm has only 64,000 acres.
So why the Republic of the Sudan? Sudan is the third largest country in Africa – about three times the size of Texas. It is one of the places in the world where land and water are available for foreign ownership in such quantities. In addition, the Sudan is bisected by the Nile River – the longest river in the world and the source of agricultural water.
In order to bring this super farm into reality, the Sudanese government is requesting Al Dahra Holding to present a technical feasibility study for their review. The Sudanese government has entered into a number of successful agricultural projects with Arab companies and is open to considering the project.
Al Dahra Holding plans to start with a $1 billion investment and work up to a total of $10 billion needed to create this super farm.
According to the Land Matrix – a non-profit which maintains a public database on foreign farmland deals – UAE investors already have 25 farm projects in 14 different countries totaling 7 million acres.
Uploaded here is a short video from the other side of the equation – the local Sudanese people who are in the path of untold wealth locking for farming assets.
The message to Americans – don’t be too hasty in giving up the opportunity to garden on your own or with others. ▪