In Africa, the population is struggling with a life-or-life dilemma that could help infrastructure, agriculture and water-related exchange traded funds (ETFs).

For years, the countries in North Africa have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the Nile River in order to make deserts bloom, says Andrew Martin for the New York Times. The projects to do so were so expensive that importing food was more practical, and today, some countries import at least 90% of their staples.

The global food crisis today is making that a whole lot less practical, and those countries are rethinking the old ways they’ve done things.

The population of this region has more than quadrupled since 1950, to 364 million, and is expected to reach 600 million by 2050. That’s going to cut heavily into an already-scarce water supply.

Since the world markets can no longer be as relied-upon, the countries are developing new and expensive schemes to maintain the food supply. One country is growing rice in solar-powered greenhouses, fed by groundwater and cooled with seawater. The project has been called by a World Bank economist as “probably the most expensive rice on earth.”

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