Oceanic agriculture: food for next century
by Nehal Adil
GLOBAL population has reached seven billion. One billion of them live in developed industrialised countries. Because of their military predominance they have control over most of the world’s resources. The control of food resources is one of the mechanisms that could be deadly, if used along with drones. But that is not the point. The world’s food crisis could affect both the developed and underdeveloped countries. Hungry masses could start moving to the West. The best way is to seek a new front to meet the global food crisis. Oceanic agriculture is such an outlet. The United States, Canada and Australia control much of the world’s food production today. Colonial Britain occupied these countries once. When the Germans wanted a part of the cake there was a world war. But the problem is far more serious today. India, China, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan and Vietnam are food exporters. But overpopulated countries like Japan and Bangladesh might face acute food crisis if they do not extend their horizon to the ocean. The problem is more acute in Bangladesh because its population, unlike Japan, is expanding.
The struggle for territorial resources in the sea is already creating tension in South China Sea, in our Bay of Bengal, in Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea as well as in North Sea in Europe. The real solution is to develop technology for oceanic agriculture in which everyone can have the cake. The United States is far advanced in this technology and can share it with the hungry world. The US played an important role in the development of genetic crops and it can also help in developing oceanic herbs that can meet the growing demand for food for the humanity.
The US alone cannot bear the world’s burden. China, Japan and even Malaysia and Singapore have gone ahead with oceanic agriculture. In our sophisticated shopping malls we can find seafood including herbs and algae. They are in general called health food and are very expensive from the point of the income of our people. Only the very rich can afford them. I saw girls in a shopping mall freely distributing soup made of sea herbs. It is popular in Scandinavia. I saw some Swedish tourist tasting it. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the Russians were going hungry, the Japanese sent them dried algae with high nutrients. The Japanese used algae as food after being devastated by the American occupation and nuclear bombs. A Japanese volunteer quipped that the Russians were far more devastated because they did not know what happened to them.
Ice in the Artic Ocean is melting. This provides new opportunity for oceanic agriculture for them. But the greater opportunity is in the warm water of the Pacific where the United States has uncontrolled dominance. Though the United States demand uncontrolled access for its warships in the Chinese reefs in South China Sea, it maintains its military dominance in the Pacific Oceans through the small reefs of Howard Islands, Jarvis Island, Baker Island, Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef. It controls politically and militarily Micronesia. The territory is four times bigger than South Asia. If oceanic agriculture could be made available, it could feed double the present world population, according to some futurologists. South Pacific nations, especially Kiribati, Fiji and Samoa, have demanded the end of American suzerainty of the region. It rightfully belongs to Kiribati and Marshall Islands.
If it was brought under the United Nations control and used for oceanic agriculture and declared a common asset of humanity like the Antarctic, it could be a hold step. Humanity has done a lot to explore outer space but very little for inner space. Bangladesh, an ancient seafaring nation, can contribute a lot to this venture. Our sailor moved to Maya (America) and Avatari (Ao Teora, New Zealand) through Malay Ocean, the so-called Pacific Ocean. We are now proudly building seagoing vessels which countries like Germany. Denmark and Norway are ordering for. We can build our own vessels for oceanic research and oceanic agriculture.
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