[Answered] What is Agricultural Protection Zoning? Discuss its need and importance.

Demand of the question Introduction. What is Agricultural Protection Zoning? Body. Discuss the need and importance of Agricultural Protection Zones. Conclusion. Way forward.

Agricultural protection zoning (APZ) is a process of designating areas where farming is the primary land use and discourages other land uses in those areas. It includes separation of farming and related activities from other land uses.  It is used to preserve agricultural lands and protect working farms from conversion to non-farm uses by prohibiting or restricting development on agricultural lands.

Need and importance of Agricultural Protection Zones:

  1. Sustainable agriculture: The regulation of land uses in agricultural areas is important to help protect farm lands for long-term use and to ensure a sustainable agricultural industry. It conserves agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance for the production of crops, livestock, or other agricultural products.
  2. Discourage incompatible development: Agricultural Preservation Zoning prevents land uses that are incompatible with farming. Examples of such uses include landfills, airports, golf courses etc. APZ can help preservation of farmland and discourage development of land uses that are incompatible with agricultural uses.
  3. Protect dependent rural communities: It promotes and protects dependent rural communities through the enhancement, protection, and perpetuation of the agricultural land to produce food and provide livelihood to them by protecting property rights.
  4. Minimise land use conflicts: Zoning protects agricultural land by minimizing land use conflicts. As a region develops, the non-agricultural land uses increases and often creates conflict between the farming and non-farming activities. Agricultural zoning prevents these controversies by segregating agricultural lands from non-agricultural land uses.
  5. Maintains the vitality: Scattered development of non-agricultural buildings interferes with an agricultural operation. Agricultural zoning maintains the vitality of the agricultural sector by retaining a critical mass of agricultural land.
  6. Protect agricultural soils: Effective agricultural zoning ordinances protect agricultural soils. Agricultural sector requires soils amenable to food production for human and animal consumption. By APZ those soils that are most suitable for agriculture are protected from other development activities that make soils non-suitable.

Limitations of Agricultural Protection Zones:

  1. Limited effectiveness: 80% of farms in India are marginal to small landholdings. APZ may have limited effectiveness in areas where farming is not well established or is fragmented.
  2. Conflicts: APZ may lead to conflicts when applied to areas with intense development pressure. For instance, it may generate objections from nearby non-farm residents to routine agricultural activities that result in noise, odour or dust.
  3. Do not guarantee agricultural use: While zoning limits uses that are inconsistent with farming, zoning does not guarantee the land will remain in production. In 2017, fallow land for India was 24,848 thousand hectares, which are theoretically under agri-use but not acting as productive sites as such.
  4. Fragmentation: APZ subdivides farms into smaller parcels that are usually too small to be operated economically.

APZ has the prospect of benefiting the farming community. Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced that the Cauvery delta region consisting of eight districts would be declared as a Protected Special Agriculture Zone. The move would help in preventing the implementation of oil exploration projects and other hydrocarbon projects in the Cauvery delta region and will help to ensure food security of the State and livelihood opportunities of the farmers and other agriculture-based labourers.

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