Green Choices: Food Security vs. Industrial Tiger

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Many developing countries today are in a dilemma over the direction to be taken in terms of development.  The debate is one about choosing between becoming an industrial tiger ready to take on the industrialized nations of the world or becoming a food self-sufficient powerhouse by ensuring food security.  We can name Vietnam as a good example of such a dilemma.

Shrinking Farmlands and Migrating Farmers

It is truly alarming that even in the United States, the number of farmers actually farming the land has seen significant declines in the past few years.  This can be attributed to many reasons like the continued losses from negative climate conditions, the increasing use for industrial purposes of farmlands and the mounting allure of life in the city.

If this is true in the United States, a country that prides itself on food sufficiency, then it is all the more true in developing nations.  Furthermore, government policy has a helping hand in it because of the political thrust towards national industrialization by a certain date.

Thus, the national and local governments will enforce laws reassigning farmlands to industrial uses.  You will see rice fields behind high-rise office buildings and factories in many parts of Asia as evidence of such an industrialization policy.

All this is well and good except that food security is at stake.  Keep in mind the general rule that before a developing country can progress to become a developed nation, it must be able to feed its population from its own farms and fields.  Otherwise, the gains of industrialization can be offset by the costs of importation.  Even the United States had a strong agricultural sector before it made its leap to becoming an industrialized nation.

And so, the dilemma begins.  Food security is very important in becoming an industrial tiger but one must be sacrificed for the other and not without cost to the environment either.

Solutions in Unexpected Places

Or is it necessary to sacrifice one for the other?  Well, maybe not with the innovative solutions being presented by scientists and farmers alike.  For one thing, the option of seed hybridization is available.  Basically, two crop varieties of the same produce are cross breed to eliminate their negative qualities and highlight the positive properties.  As a result, a better variety of crops is produced, be it for rice, wheat or potatoes.

For another thing, there is nuclear energy.  Fortunately, we are not referring to the nuclear energy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as we know it.  This time, nuclear energy is used in a process called mutation induction where the crops specifically rice are bombarded with radiation.  In turn, a variety of genetic mutations result in new varieties that are chosen for their specific properties like height of stalks, size of seeds and length of germination.

These methods of selective breeding of crops also have their environmental impacts, of course.  But with the right balance between ensuring food security while giving way to the advances of industrialization, we have hope that developing nations will not fall into the negative effects of the march towards industry without regard for agriculture.

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