We have a saying in Pakistan that a white man thinks a hundred years ahead of time. An Indian (i.e. a subcontinental Indian, not to be confused with other types of Indians, such as red Indians) thinks ten years ahead of time. Whereas a Pakistani begins to think while drowning. This is true about our thought process in almost any sphere of life. Thinking about food is no exception. We love to eat and we never ponder where the food is coming from. While eating we believe that Allah will feed us and shun away any thoughts about any plans we should have about our national, domestic or even personal problems.
In Pakistan we have a lot of sayings. The fact is that we like to say a lot. There is a saying for almost every thinkable event of life. Saying a lot, and saying it eloquently, is considered an integral part of our personal wisdom. It is a personal development tool to be able to say too much and to say it really well. But mere talking does not help much. Talk cannot feed a hungry stomach.
Quite surprisingly, we have a lot of food in Pakistan. You can go to any corner of the country and you would find abundant food. A lot of food and no work! No, I do not mean to say that we do not have jobs. There are quite a few jobs in Pakistan. Although they are not as many as they should have been. What I additionally want to imply is that people who have jobs don’t tend to work as much. The is absolutely true about the public sector. The very fact that Pakistani people are fed food for doing nothing is a miracle in its own right. And you can see this miracle at play in every part of our country. Any person who does not believe in a God should come and witness this with his own eyes how a creation is being fed in almost every part of the country. The sight of jam-packed restaurants and takeaways is absolutely miraculous. In Pakistan, chicken is our national bird.
Gluttony is our favorite national habit and incompetence is our most cherished national trait. This is, however, not going to work for long. With rapid urbanization in the past decade and a sudden population growth, there is tremendous pressure on many of our national resources. Food supplies, water and fuel are some of the commodities that can be expected to be in short supply given our population dynamics. This would be especially true when our population is going to double by the next couple of decades, as it is projected by the experts on demographics.
In Pakistan we love to construct a lot. Whenever someone has enough money, then, due to lack of a better idea, he would buy some land somewhere and erect a huge house on top of that. This has also been true since the past couple of decades. The truth is that many parts in Pakistan were heavenly for the real estate dealers ten to fifteen years ago. They are still not doing very badly. Moreover, all the land that was sold then is still undergoing rapid construction. People are making houses all over the country.
And what else would the people do? With not many options to spend money, they buy land to build houses. And with too many people in the country, it is also absolutely important to have as many houses as we can build. Construction has become a necessity. And even when construction was not such a dire necessity, it was our favorite national pastime.
The exponentially growing population and rapidly increasing population have given rise to additional problems. These problems are going to become worse if they are not addressed now. One of these problems is food. Food is becoming quite expensive in Pakistan. It is a very harsh fact that not everyone can afford food at reasonable prices. There is too much poverty and inflation in Pakistan. People still get fed. However, the plight is quite grim.
Construction of houses, no matter useful, has already given rise to a handful of problems. Some of them can be understood and the others would become apparent in due course. One of the problems with this rapid construction is that housing societies have been developed on lands that were previously used for agriculture. So the land that was previously used for agriculture is now being used by people to live. Building houses by curtailing agricultural activities is, thus, not a very great idea.
Agriculture can, nonetheless, be revived in these areas. I remember that I wrote about the benefits of rooftop gardening long time ago. I wrote that how building rooftop gardening can help revive vegetation in household environments. This idea is not novel. It is quite popular in western countries. However, it is close to non-existant in Pakistan. I would be extremely surprised if someone told me that someone out there is doing rooftop gardening in Pakistan. Actually I would be disappointed to learn this, as I believe that virtually nobody in Pakistan has a rooftop garden. I am going to reflect briefly on the benefits of aquaponics.
So what is aquaponics. I came to know about aquaponics through a webinar. It was an hour long presentation of an American entrepreneur who was trying to sell his ideas and solutions to people. There are plenty of other sources on the worldwide web from where you can learn about aquaponics.
Aquaponics is a simple technology. In aquaponics you grow vegetable and keep marine animals side by side. So you can have a plastic bed in which you can grow vegetables. And you can have an aquarium placed right besides it, or above it, in which you can keep some marine animals, like certain types of fish, shrimps, crabs and lobsters.
In aquaponics both plants and aquatic animals form a certain kind of symbiotic relationship as they grow together. As the marine animals excrete in the aquariums, their excretions become toxic for them after some time. These excretion can serve as elixir for the the plants instead. The water from the fish ponds is recycled into the plant beds. It carries essential micro-nutrients for the plants that helps them grow faster and stronger.
The water from the plant beds can be recycled into the aquariums. So, apuaponics is essentially a simple process.
I personally believe that who ever shall invest a little bit of effort to do aquaponics on an industrial scale in Pakistan can become quite wealthy. All you would have to do is to convince people of its benefits and motivate them to buy the required paraphernalia from you to install aquaponics systems in their houses. You can also offer after-sales services and other additional benefits.
People can adopt aquaponics as a hobby as well and they can earn a lot of money with it. I wrote some benefits of rooftop gardening some time back and they hold true for aquaponics too. I reiterate them here for your kind perusal.
- It would keep your house cooler (or less hot) as much of the heat from sunlight would be absorbed by the aquariums and plantation beds on your rooftop.
- It would revive a significant portion of agricultural land that was lost in making housing societies.
- You would get free vegetables and fish to eat. You can also sell the surplus eatables in the market.
- Food prices would come down and more people would have access to nutritious food.
- Its green!There is considerable poverty and unemployment in our country. Younger people are looking for jobs whereas older people with money are finding ways to invest. In Pakistan we love to lament and crib about our dysfunctional political system. It is a pity that we spend a lot valuable time of our lives in futile activities. But procrastination is our most deep rooted national behavior.
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