February 10, 2020: The Government of Tamil Nadu has decided to designate a few selected areas as Protected Agricultural Zone. Over twenty years ago I had suggested that as in the case of SEZ (Special Economic Zone), we should introduce SAZ (Special Agriculture Zone). At that time, my suggestion was for specific areas like Kuttanad and Wayanad in Kerala and the Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan. The then Chief Minister of Kerala Shri A K Antony took interest but had soon afterwards moved to the centre. I am therefore happy that the Tamil Nadu government is launching a programme of protected areas. We had earlier proposed that the Grand Anicut (Kallanai) area should be declared as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). The areas identified for being allotted the SAZ status should be given special facilities to ensure that agriculture remains economically viable. In any case, the idea of a Protected Agricultural Zone is important for ensuring the future of our food and ecological security leading to increased productivity in perpetuity.
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