Drying up the desert one glass of milk at a time

Adding an entirely new dimension to the locavore concept, Saudi Arabia is home to “the largest single integrated dairy farm in the world”. Or, at least, has been. The desert kingdom’s 30-year old experiment with dairy farming may be winding down as the 38,000 cow facility will lose its supply of domestically produced feed in another 16 years. The dairy is operated by Danone Al Safi; Danone is better known to Americans as Dannon.alsafi

The problem, it would seem, is that the dairy operation and its support industry, has already drained one aquifer and is now at work on another with recent government approval. According to a story from NPR, the new aquifer isn’t expected to last more than a few decades at most, assuming there aren’t too many other demands placed upon it.

Saudi Arabia’s response to this problem is to look overseas. Like its neighbors, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, as well as east Asian nations such as South Korea, the 77-year old kingdom is buying huge tracts of land in desperately poor nations where it hopes to grow food to export back home. Buy local, indeed.


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