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What is Khazan Farming System? Know all about estuarine agriculture here

Tulika Tandon

Meaning of the term Khazan Farming:

This type of farming is practised in estuarine parts of a geographical area. In India, it is practised in Goa’s estuarine system. 

Why is Khazan Agriculture system in News?

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary happens to be Goa’s smallest protected area. It, like many low-lying floodplains of Goa, is used as an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming. The system is now under the state of decay.

About Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

  1. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is Goa’s smallest protected area.
  2. It is built in only two square kilometres of lush mangrove forests.
  3. The location of the sanctuary is in Chorão, Goa’s estuarine islands on river Mandovi.
  4. The sanctuary hosts various marsh crocodiles, smooth-coated otter, glossy-marsh snakes feeding on crabs, mud lobsters, sap-sucking sea slugs etc.

How is Khazan Farming System practised?

  1. Khazan agriculture is a well designed topo-hydro-engineered agro-aquacultural ecosystem. 
  2. It is based on the regulation of salinity of water and tides.
  3. Bunds are made using locally available material to prevent the ingress of saltwater, in low-lying brackish coastal floodplains and mangrove forests.
  4. Openings are built in the bunds fitted with one-way gates to control the flow of tidal waters. Such channels then are filled with the incoming tide to bring in fishes, crabs and shrimps.
  5. The gates then automatically shut when the water levels equalize on both sides of it.
  6. Paddy is grown here which has a low tolerance to salt. Thus controlled gates cause the crop to be safe while retaining the necessary amount of water. 

Why are the lands decaying?

  1. It is due to the agrarian reforms of 1961, that the Khazan lands are lying useless and are in a state of decay.
  2. The mangroves are reclaiming the space due to lack of cultivation and maintenance of the bunds along with the sluice gates.
  3. The mangroves are protected by the law which is why it is illegal to cut them. Thus in case, the land is retained one cannot reuse it again. 
  4. Areas that have trees growing on them also come under the purview of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) which is why mangroves cannot be removed. Agriculture does not come under this regulation. 

How were the Khazan managed?

  1. These pieces of lands are managed by the communities of Goa. They were managed by Comunidade of the area in the pre-independence era.
  2. They used to involve themselves in the construction, maintenance and operation of bunds and sluice gates.

Benefits of Khazan Farming?

  1. In this system of farming, every bit of space is precious and used efficiently. The bunds are used to grow a variety of vegetables.
  2. The Khazan system is good as the farmer and the fisherman coexist
  3. It is the key to sustaining  Goa’s staple fish, curry and rice

Restoration of Khazan System

  1. Goa’s water resource department took up the job of repairing the breached embankments.
  2. Indigenous materials and methods were employed for repair of bunds and restoration of the land but it has not had beneficial results.
  3. The previous mud-laterite-straw bunds were replaced by concrete ones.

The government of the state will have to put in extra efforts to restore the lost art of Khazan Agriculture as the lands are in the state of decay. Moreover, this is the type of agriculture that supports Goas fish curry and rice which is why the importance of its restoration is on priority. 

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Where can you find Khazan Framing in India?

The estuarine lands of Goa are where Khazan farming is practised the most

What are the types of agriculture?

It can be classified into Shifting Cultivation, Nomadic Herding, Livestock Ranching/Pastoral Farming, Commercial Plantations, Mixed Farming, Specialized Horticulture, Subsistence Farming etc

What is agriculture?

Agriculture means the art of cultivating on the land, growing crops and producing something out of it.

What are Khazan lands?

Khazans are the reclaimed lands from the river or the sea. Farming of paddy on such fields is referred to as Khazan farming

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