The great plains of the Prairies grew the nation, fed the British Empire and fuelled our literary canon. Now the world’s breadbasket has a new role in a growing number of investment portfolios. Investors are buying Canadian agricultural land, betting that rising food prices, a ballooning global population and growing worldwide scarcities in farmland will mean a payoff for them. “The interest we’re seeing has gone exponential,” said Stephen Johnston of Agcapita, one of a handful of private companies in this country that are investing in land on behalf of high-net-worth individuals and creating farmland funds because, he says, compared to other parts of the world, Canadian farmland remains cheap. Prices range from about $500 an acre in Saskatchewan or $700 in Manitoba to a steeper $1,200 in Alberta (versus anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 an acre in Iowa, say, where prices have risen dramatically in the past year). Many predict that one day the land will be as precious as gold—or even better. “Unlike gold, farmland generates ongoing income,” said Johnston.