Sudan Could Tap "Marine Capital."
Hoes, Jeanne, African Business
Sudan is one of the countries which, according to a World Bank study, are particularly well placed to make use of their "marine capital". The sea offers a treasure chest of potential clues for solving some of humanity's worsening problems, the study contends.
Investing more in marine research and in the growing field of marine "biotechnology" could deliver big payoffs, especially for poorer developing countries which need the help the most.
"The tremendous diversity of life in tropical and subtropical seas represents the world's most abundant but least utilised living resources," the study maintains. Entitled Marine Biotechnology and Developing Countries, the study adds that "while biotechnology undoubtedly holds enormous promise for developing countries", much more needs to be done to reap those rewards.
Marine biotechnology, or the use of science to produce goods and services from marine life, could be a boon, especially for those developing countries with long coastlines, the study contends. Island countries such as Haiti, Indonesia and the Philippines and coastal countries like Chile, China, India and Sudan all stand to gain from drawing more on their "marine capital".
Through marine biotechnology, developing nations can produce variations of species that could boost food supplies, improve the nutritional status of their populations and notch up export earnings. Learning more about marine life could also yield compounds that can fight diseases in humans and in valuable sea creatures, such as shrimp. Shrimp is already a major source of revenue for Mozambique.
Developing countries could also use marine biotechnology to find micro-organisms that help break down pollutants and waste in water without leaving toxic residues. Some marine life could also help industry. Currently, scientists are seeking a substance that could help rid ship hulls of encrustation instead of applying protective paints which leach heavy metals into the water.
Applying lessons from marine life can also help to improve land crops. For example, natural antifreeze found in flounders that live in extremely cold water has already been blended into varieties of tomatoes to protect them from freezing.
But despite the promise which marine biotechnology holds for developing countries, much work lies ahead, the study cautions. International agencies like the World Bank, it urges, must help developing countries to improve their ability to do research and development and then use that know-how in their economies. …