Thirvananthapuram: Eminent Agricultre Scientist M S Swaminathan has suggested declaration of Kuttanad wetlands in Kerala as a Special Agricutlural Zone (SAZ), an area which is being considered by FAO to be conferred the status of a "Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site."
"While in the case of Special Economic Zone (SEZ),prime farm land is often diverted for non-farm uses, SAZ is intended to conserve prime farm land for agriculture", Swaminathan said in a message on the occasion of the launch of the special package for Kuttanad at Monkompu at Alappuzha yesterday.
Swaminathan, who hails from Kuttanad and familiar with the unique features of the area, said more research was needed on rice-fish cropping systems, soil and water management systems and post-harvest technology for reviving farming and fisheries
activities in Kuttanad, he said.
Known as the `rice bowl` of Kerala, Kuttanad covers a sprawling wetland region, most of which lies in Alappuzha district with its rims touching Kottayam and Pathanamthitta.
The ecology of area had suffered heavily due to flawed water management, introduction of fertilisers and pesticides and real estate and tourism boom. The Rs 1841-crore package for Kuttanad comprises several schemes worked out on the basis of in-depth studies conducted by experts from the M S Swaminathan Foundation.
Swaminathan said it was due to its unique eco-system that Kuttanad was declared a Ramsar site and proposals were underway for declaring the area as Globally Important Agriculture Heritage by the FAO.
Uniqueness of Kuttanad is that this is the only region in the country where rice is cultivated below the sea level and the technology of cultivation of rice under such conditon was developed by farmers in the area 150 years back.
Swaminathan said the agricultural expertise of Kuttanad farmers would be of great value to nations like the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh facing threat of sea-level rise as a
result of global warming.
The first phase of the package was launched jointly by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and Union Water Resources Minister P K Bansal.