Measures to mitigate agrarian distress in Alappuzha and Kuttanad wetland ecosystem – A study report by MSSRF

This study report by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) deals with the measures to mitigate agrarian distress in Alappuzha and Kuttanad wetland ecosystem.

Cover In spite of its natural wealth, the Alappuzha district has a high proportion of population living in poverty. 

Recognizing that the process of preparation of a mitigation plan report is as important as the product, the MSSRF team held wide ranging consultations with all concerned with the economy, ecological security and livelihood security of Kuttanad wetlands. Information on the consultations held and visits made are given in the report. It contains a malady-remedy analysis of the problems and potential solutions.

The greatest challenge in dealing with multidimensional problems in our country is our inability to generate the necessary synergy and convergence among the numerous government, non-government, civil society and other agencies involved in the implementation of the programmes such as those outlined in this report. This is why the team has suggested both high-level policy guidance and monitoring committee as well as a task implementation mechanism.

The Kuttanad Wetland Ecosystem, particularly the Vembanad Kayal (lake), is now receiving global attention because nature is at the peak of its beauty in this Ramsar site. This Wetland Ecosystem comprises not only the Vembanad Kayal but also a huge network of rivers, canals and drains. The agriculture of Kuttanad wetlands is again unique because in large areas rice cultivation is being done up to 2 m below the sea level.

The challenge now is to conserve and enhance the beauty and bounty of this ecosystem by creating an economic stake in its conservation. This will imply that the livelihood security of the farm, fisher and other families living in this area must be strengthened through better infrastructure and multiple avenues of market driven income earning opportunities. The agricultural crisis in Alappuzha district is deeper in the Onattukara and its northwestern coastal regions known for unique Pokkali rice cultivation.

The report suggests an institutional mechanism like the creation of a Special Agricultural Zone (SAZ), which will help to address in a holistic manner all links in the conservation, cultivation, consumption and commerce chain. Saving the Kuttanad ecosystem and the regeneration of the agriculture of this area has to be a joint Centre-State responsibility. The report also recommends that the Kuttanad Special Agricultural Zone is very worthy of the support the Government of India is planning to extend to State Governments for new initiatives in the field of agriculture, which can help to strengthen national food security and sovereignty.

Download the report below -

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