Agriculture is the back bone of India, since it constitutes a major contribution towards GDP. As Gandhi said “The soul of India is in the villages”, we can say that “The soul of agriculture is in our fertile lands”. Its good to hear about advanced agricultural techniques, awareness programmes, subsidized loans for farmers etc. This segment is still in doldrums even though we have an experienced manpower ,diversified topography, huge land mass and sops from government. We have witnessed many incidents on farmer suicides and climatic catastrophes. Nowadays political parties are using these issues as a ladder for their electoral benefits and political benefits.We have umpteen committees, advisory boards, NGO, banks to nullify the core agricultural issues, but all in vain, because of no intent towards the same from various outfits. Lets not politicize the issue or act like a catalyst to flame up the core issue in this forum. We should find out a permanent solution for the same and execute plans effectively, without which our food deficit and infertile land masses can pose serious threats in the near future.
SPECIAL AGRICULTURAL ZONES (SAZ)
I am not the first person to raise the need of SAZ. Many eminent personalities including M.S Swaminathan (Agricultural scientist) have already demanded for SAZ from the government through different sources and the effort is going on from 2006 onwards. There are no developments or initiatives from the government for implementation of SAZ till now. SAZ is a zone,which is marked only for agricultural purpose like Special Economic Zone(SEZ) for industrial units.
IMPORTANCE OF SAZ
Preservation of agricultural land
As I told you earlier “The soul of agriculture is in our fertile lands”, fertile land is the gift of nature which never can be reproduced. Urbanization may be a stepping stone towards development, but not at the cost of our invaluable agricultural land. Fertile land is not mandatory for creating Hi tech cities and residential townships. The development of a rural area to an urban outfit is executed by the administration based on many parameters, but Fertile land is not the part of any of these parameters for unknown reasons. Fertile land is decided by the contents in the soil and there will be a difference in the composition based on the topography. Nobody can create an infertile soil equal to natural best, but can reproduce some features by the excessive use of artificial techniques which can harm the person consuming the produce. So many people succeeded in replicating the agricultural yield in terrace gardens and kitchen gardens. These arrangements cannot replace agricultural lands, but only a mere arrangement which can’t fulfill the need of an entire country in the coming future. Preservation of agricultural land can act as a catalyst to support a perfect natural balance and think about a nation which can boast of vast agricultural land masses, which in turn can even think of catering the rest of the world also,along with our GDP and citizens.
Employment and empowerment of farmer community
India is blessed with a larger agricultural work force which is experienced and has evolved over the years. They are equipped with an abundant knowledge transferred from ancient times, in traditional farming techniques in all type of topographic areas. But they are being forced to sell their land to land grabbers, so that they can give a normal life to their family. Farmers are slowly alienated and government aids garner zero benefits in the absence of a proper system. Genetic experiments and renowned agricultural methods are not required to increase the yield, but precious agricultural knowledge of our traditional farmers clubbed with their will can create wonders. Establishment of a proper system in this segment is the need of the hour than advancement.Government can create employment to our traditional farmers by way of SAZ, thereby empowering farmer community. SAZ will instill confidence on traditional farming techniques at a low cost. Government bodies can work more closer with farmers and understand their problems. The benefits of SAZ is more rewarding than creating software platforms for agricultural awareness of a farmer,who is already struggling to make one toilet in his house because of financial crisis. SAZ will create self sustainable farmer communities across the countries with lakhs of employment opportunities created.
Diversification of Agricultural process
Agriculture is not a simple process as many say. There are so many processes and brainstorming along with experience is required to get an yield.Once the yield produced the same has to go through logistics and ware housing before reaching the end users. Diversification of the agriculture process can be executed effectively, if all the process happen in the same place. SAZ will facilitate the execution of these diversified processes in a systematic way at a lower cost. Preparation of the soil,sowing seeds,harvesting,logistics,warehousing and packaging can be done in a shorter span of time compared to the existing obsolete and time-consuming processes. Many of the foreign investors and technologies can be attracted in an easier way by showcasing SAZ. Moreover the diversification increases the revenue and profit of farmers and country than increasing the burden.
Ground water level,flora and fauna
Ground water level is an important aspect of an ecology. Ground water forms after centuries of natural process and it add-on to 20% of world’s fresh water supply. This has to be preserved and rejuvenated from depletion. Depleted ground water regions will become deserts and the soil will become infertile. Ground water preservation methods like effective canal systems and rain water harvesting systems allow us to protect this source for the consumption of people. Even if the government has made Rain water harvesting mandatory in cities, developers are less equipped and least known about the advanced rain water harvesting methods. The regulations and mandates can be changed with the help of bureaucrats and politicians as per the comfort of a developer, which will deter the real purpose. We are going through an era, where there is a scarcity of rain and constant climatic changes.Destruction of river beds are also a major concern. Government has created Development authorities for lakes but the office bearers are busy developing their personal properties. SAZ can end this by driving out cities from fertile zones to infertile zones.
Flora and fauna are very essential for ecological balance. God has created human beings as a part in an ecosystem,and not as a controller. If we are not living as a part of the nature,in coming future the nature will wipe out this race from earth. We have seen deforestation in the name of agriculture. We should know that ,we can plant crops which will grow along with the forest without destroying the same. SAZ can effectively implement agriculture suited to forest areas without destroying the Flora and fauna. Tribal community in that particular area can be used to develop effective farming techniques suitable for forest lands.
Effective warehousing and logistics
Agricultural products are perishable goods. Our country is facing serious warehousing issues with lakhs of tonnes of food products rotten to drain.We should think that our country has a major number of BPL families. Death by starvation are on a very higher side.An effective ware housing will address the issue. Logistics has always been a problem for agricultural products. Absence of better preservation techniques of food products during logistics and warehousing is a big concern to government agencies. There are private organisations who have implemented better preservation techniques like cut vegetable preservation,food grains preservation along with better packaging to end users. SAZ will open up a way to pull in these private players because of the measure of yield, which will improve the efficiency of our existing logistics and warehousing methods. This will help government to think beyond ration shop systems to reach the BPL families with quality food products. The role of middlemen can be eliminated completely.
Elimination of land grabbing
Real estate land grabbing is a nemesis nowadays. The land grabbers or their associates never think about the loss of fertile land or ecological problems ,since they are concentrated towards money making. The flaws in our existing land rules and complications in judicial systems add-on to the miseries. I have seen many articles about the need of a powerful law for stopping this crime. But the delay in drafting, fight between the political outfits and constitutional logger heads failed to decelerate land grabbing activities. I am not saying that SAZ will cut this crime, but at least this will stop the poaching of fertile land. Constitution and our lawmakers has to have the real guts to clean this mess.
Acquisition of fertile land for R&D has always costed the farmer. Indian R&D techniques will open up an array of opportunities,once the scientists and the experiments are exposed to a huge agricultural land mass. SAZ will enable the right application of lab techniques and a higher sample size compared to the present scenario. Scientists are constantly under pressure to develop agricultural technologies which will produce largest yield on a minimal land mass. These type of methods will lead to heavy use of chemical pesticides,food products with less carbohydrate and protein content and lesser life of a fertile land. SAZ will encourage experiments which will improve the traditional methods.Government will be in a place to produce nutritional food products with the help of organic manure.Chemical companies will be forced to concentrate on producing organic pesticides. Our scientists can develop advanced agricultural methods in India itself,instead of visiting European countries. Our country is blessed with scientists of high intellectual acumen, capable of creating agricultural heavens at a very small cost.Government can create a perfect environment and platform for our brilliant scientists through SAZ.
Implementation of Schemes and benefits
Government is declaring many schemes and benefits for the farmers every year.But none of these reach the farmers because of corrupt officials and ministers. If the Schemes and benefits has to reach a farmer,it should be direct,but the same is not happening because of the complex segmentation of our bureaucratic system. The Schemes prepared by our administration and decision makers are undoubtedly flawless, but the system of fund flow is like a leaking funnel.The system uses different leaking funnels in different levels of fund flow.The end use will only get an inadequate amount which will reach him after so many delays and processes.A benefit becomes a curse.if it wont be given on the right time. SAZ allows Government to channel the benefits in a simpler way to the needy on time. Families with traditional farming back grounds can be used for SAZ by allotting land to them inside SAZ. This will create more revenue to the farmers and encourages their coming generations to take up agriculture as a profession. SAZ can undoubtedly increase the labor force in agricultural segment and can act as a catalyst in reducing our food deficit.
There are many other advantages of SAZ.We need action from Government to carry out SAZ in a transparent and simple way. It shouldn’t go to drain like many other ambitious projects started earlier. This is all about existence of human race and eradication of death by starvation.Human race can’t sustain with out food. Lets start living along with nature, not by controlling nature.