According to an IRNA article about food security, which means every citizen’s easy access to sufficient and healthy food, is one of the most important concerns of every government and policymakers around the globe, including in the Asia-Pacific countries. There are two ways to achieve that objective — agriculture in the mainland or the extra-territorial agriculture.
In other words, extra-territorial cultivation, which means planting and harvesting agricultural products aimed at ensuring food security for the nations and countries food industries in lands beyond national borders that may involve hectares of agricultural lands outside the country.
Rapid population growth, water scarcity, worries about the repetition of the 2007-2008 raising food prices and a number of other factors have encouraged the Asia-Oceania region countries to get inclined towards extra-territorial cultivation.
According to the UN predictions, the world population in the year 2050 will be around 9.1 billion people. Meanwhile, the accelerating trend of migration from villages to cities and increased income of the middle class people leads to growing demand for food products and this can threaten the world food security.
Countries such as those in Africa, south and central Asia, Latin America, Russia, Ukraine and Australia that have lots of lands and water for agricultural activities, and are at the top of the list of destinations for extra-territorial cultivation.
Agricultural experts believe extra-territorial cultivation has lots of privileges, such as lowering the unemployment rate, technological development, boosting trade, establishment of new markets and contributing to the strengthening of economy of the host country.
In Asia-Oceania region countries and the Central Asian countries due to emergence of newly-independent republics on the path of development, the path towards progress is being paved, because the various capacities in those regions have attracted the attention of many countries that are eager to have presence there and develop interactions with the players there.
One of those enthusiastic countries for launching extra-territorial cultivation projects abroad is Iran, that is due to limited agricultural lands and water scarcity that has increased the Iranian officials’ enthusiasm in expansion of relations with those countries, and can play a significant role in boosting those countries’ economies and economic transactions with Iran.
Among the Asian countries China, Kazakhstan, India and Malaysia are at the top of active countries interested in extra-territorial cultivation.
According to statistics the Chinese citizens consume an average 20% of the world food products, but that country possesses only 9% of the cultivable lands in the world.
Therefore, the Chinese state officials have in order to provide food for their nation broadly resorted to extra-territorial cultivation.
Presently China’s largest extra-territorial project is underway in the African country of Mozambique. China intends to cultivate more than 20,000 hectares of lands in that country that has rich water and appropriate atmosphere for agricultural activities.
Kazakhstan is the largest Central Asian country that is Iran’s neighbor thru the Caspian Sea. This Caspian Sea littoral state whose agricultural industry is noticeably advanced also enjoys appropriate transit and transportation position and transporting goods thru Iran to that country is done with ease.
Iranian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Majid Samazadeh-Saber in an interview with IRNA referred to Kazakhstan’s potentials in agricultural, animal husbandry and fisheries, arguing that Kazakhstan is one of Iran’s top priorities for extra-territorial cultivation.
“During the past 3 years Kazakhstan has stopped selling lands to foreigners, but other methods, such as long-term renting of lands, or partnership in taking advantage of the excellent agricultural lands of this country can still be used,” he added.
Presently, in a bid to rid itself of the water scarcity and lingering draught, Iran has resorted to extra-territorial cultivation plans in various countries, including Afghanistan.
For instance, the water scarcity problem in border province of Khorasan-e Razavi that has the best privilege of being benefitted from the extra-territorial cultivation for such agricultural high water usage products as sugar beat in neighboring country, Afghanistan should be under close consideration.
This will not only strengthen friendly neighboring relations, but is also quite economically justifiable and creates greater income for the province.
Australia is among the largest renter countries of agricultural lands in Asia-Oceania region. The conditions are well at the service of agricultural activities there, making the country an appropriate destination for extra-territorial cultivation.
Presently a number of countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are engaged in extra-territorial cultivation in Australia. According to news dispatches, Riyadh has already invested 60 million dollars in extra-territorial cultivation in Australia.
India is among the top countries in the world in production of cereals.
Yet, due to variable temperatures and rapidly growing population India, too, has been faced with scarcity of cereals, that are the main food product of its nation.
Presently India has made moves in extra-territorial cultivation in Australia during the past few years and also produces some garden products there.
The Indian farmers have during the past few years bought lots of agricultural lands in Australia.
Extra-territorial cultivation in Iran
Iran is located across the world drought belt, has severe territorial temperature differences, its annual precipitations are one third of the world average, has been faced with numerous droughts during the past decades, has high water consumption rate, needs diversity of food and agricultural products, and therefore extra-territorial cultivation is one of the strategies to save Iran from water crisis.
Experts believe extra-territorial cultivation can be one of the strategies for replacing traditional ways of providing agricultural products for the nation.
The cabinet ministers in the year 2007 ratified a bylaw proposed by the Agricultural-Jihad Ministry in accordance with Constitutional Article 137 for extra-territorial cultivation to ensure food security for the nation, that is still in need of the Parliament’s ratification.
During President Ruhani’s tenure the need to resort to extra-territorial cultivation has been several times emphasized.
Various Iranian officials have stressed the need to be benefited from this method, and the US sanctions, too, have been additionally necessitating expediting measures to start extra-territorial cultivation, as a dire national need.
90% of Iran’s quite valuable drinking water is now used in agricultural activities and therefore extra-territorial activities can also lead to ending drinking water scarcity in Iran.
Yet, one of the disadvantages of extra-territorial cultivation is the losses that the Iranian farmers will suffer from if proper management is not applied.
Therefore, all the details of extra-territorial cultivation need to be studied by national programs and planners for encountering food security so that both ensuring the wellbeing of the farmers and national food security will be achieved.
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