I’m building a country located in today’s Argentina. It is as developed as Canada or Australia, and has several times bigger population than today’s Argentina.
Which brings us to the problem:
Argentina has limited cropland area (highlighted in red):
Before the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, the vast majority of the population lived in this red C-shaped fertile region (like they actually do in Argentina). The other regions (green on the map) are wetlands, deserts and other lands non-suitable for agriculture.
In the 1880-1910s, there was a huge population boom caused by the industrial revolution. The cities started to grow unprecedentedly as well. The nation’s leaders realized the country may soon run out of croplands.
To gain more land, the country would gradually start draining the wetlands that are located in the middle of the red C-shaped cropland region.
There are 2 options of what to do with the drained wetlands:
The cities located on croplands would keep growing, turning croplands to built-up land. The wetlands would be then converted into fertile croplands – which I don’t know whether it was possible at that time. Because I think that all nutrients are washed out of the wetlands.
The wetlands would be converted into urban and industrial areas, leaving the croplands for agriculture.
Which is more feasible and realistic?