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Saudi Arabia buys up land in Arizona; using desert water after drought concerns

Saudi Arabia buys up land in Arizona; using desert water after drought concerns

By Joe Bartels for ABC15

ike a desert mirage, the Almarai hay farm about 100 miles west of the Valley sprawls out on almost 10,000 acres. Buildings rise from the dust, and an endless stream of delivery trucks come and go.

The bustle of activity is from alfalfa feeds as far as the eye can see. Saudi Arabian state-run media reports Almarai bought the land last year. That was after a Saudi government directive to conserve that nation’s natural resources.

Experts say underground reservoirs and ancient aquifers have almost dried up in Saudi Arabia after decades of modern farming. And since Almarai started operations in La Paz County, reports indicate the water tables have begun to lower. That calls into question local water supplies.

Exporting crops is nothing new, according to local farmers.

Arizona’s dry climate is ideal for growing alfalfa hay, which dries quickly in the desert sun. However, the crop requires a lot of water, more than other crops, like cotton. Locals in Vicksburg say farms have been exporting crops for years, to countries like China and Japan.

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