KERALA

Swaminathan for law on sea farming rights

Figures of science: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan handing over a copy of the proceedings volume of the 21st Kerala Science Congress to agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan in Kollam on Wednesday.

Figures of science: Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan handing over a copy of the proceedings volume of the 21st Kerala Science Congress to agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan in Kollam on Wednesday.  

Staff Reporter

KOLLAM: M.S. Swaminathan, chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, has called for the enactment of a ‘Fisher Communities and Traditional Coastal Dwellers (Recognition of Sea Farming Rights) Act’ to ensure that industrialisation does not destroy the livelihood of fisher families.

Addressing the gathering at the inaugural of the three-day 21st Kerala Science Congress which began here on Wednesday, Dr. Swaminathan called for the development of an integrated coastal zone management plan involving the development of mangrove and non-mangrove bio-shields. He suggested development of institutional mechanisms like bio-villages, bio-valleys and bio-parks. “I have been suggesting that the region from the Silent Valley reserve forest up to Wayanad be developed into a bio-valley based on the cultivation of medicinal plants including medicinal rice like njavara.” A bio-valley helps to develop beneficial linkages among biodiversity, biotechnology and business, he said.

On Kutttanad, Idukki

About the study conducted by the foundation on the Kuttanad and Idukki regions, he said 60 years ago more than 90 per cent of the highlands and a major part of the midlands of Idukki district were evergreen forests. But due to encroachments, deforestation and indiscriminate felling of trees, now, only 51 per cent of the district is now covered by forests. He termed Idukki district the ‘virtual roof of Kerala.’ The influence of this roof on the weather of the district and far-reaching regions of the State is phenomenal. Studies indicate that water table in the district is depleted in spite it having the largest number of dams.

On Kuttanad, he said that the punja crop (November to March) area had now decreased to 30,000 hectares from 40,000 hectares. The virippu crop (May to September) area was down from 10,000 hectares to less than 5,000 hectares.

Kuttanad and the agriculture there are unique. Rice farming is done below the sea level there.

The farming in the region demands regimented practices for protecting the sensitive ecology of the region. He suggested that Kuttanad be treated distinctly as a special agricultural zone for promoting sustainable economic activity, eco-friendly investment in infrastructure, creation of employment and conservation of nature.

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