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Losing control of our farmland

Rich foreign countries are buying up Thai farmland to ensure their own food supplies, said Sanitsuda Ekachai. An international nonprofit farmers’ rights group has documented “an alarming trend of governments and corporations buying up farmland on a large scale in more than 60 developing countries.” The rush began after the global food crisis of 2007-08, when rich countries realized they could avoid shortages if they owned cropland abroad. Five years on, this global land grab means that “millions of poor farmers are being thrown off their land,” as local water sources are diverted from villages to giant agro-industries that dump pesticides into the ecosystem.

Africa bears the brunt of this, but Thailand is not immune. Saudi sheikhs have reportedly bought vast swathes of rice paddies to ensure a steady rice supply for their “oil-rich but food-scarce” country. Chinese interests have planted “chemical-intensive orange plantations” in our once-pristine mountains, and investors are kicking indigenous communities out of the forests so they can sell the timber.

Our shortsighted government welcomes this interest, but I worry that the “drive to make Thailand the so-called Kitchen of the World” could end up threatening “our very own food security.”