Wed, 21 Aug, 2019

Back to the roots

There will be a substantial increase in the production of paddy this season in the fields of Ucassaim, as more farmers have taken to cultivate their barren fields, thanks to the announcement of farming subsidies and retirement pension schemes to farmers

09th June 2019, 02:58 Hrs

BHARATI PAWASKAR


Farming is gaining momentum now and people of Goa have realised the importance of cultivating their agricultural land. The worry that if we don’t produce food today, what shall we eat tomorrow, is now looming over the heads of most traditional farmers in the villages, some of who had deviated from their family vocation and opted for paid jobs in the cities.   

A widow for the past six years, 67-year-old Agatha Vaz has gathered all her strength to cultivate her barren paddy field this year. Playing the second inning of her life, Agatha is hopeful that her 1000 sq metre field which lay barren for the past 10 years will now be lush green this monsoon. A farmer from Bela Flore waddo in the village of Ucassaim, she has been sowing her ancestral field, also of 1000 sq metre jointly with her sister-in-law to fulfil her home requirement of rice. It was the khajan land belonging to her that lay fallow for a decade, which she has decided to cultivate this year.   

Unlike Agatha, Rohidas Verekar, a traditional farmer has been harvesting paddy for half a century in his 2700 sq metre land and producing around 1000 kilos of brown rice for home consumption. “I keep enough for our family of seven and sell the rest in the market,” states Rohidas who turned 70 this March. Recalling the past practices of cultivating the fields manually, he now admits that mechanisation is the need of the hour. Rohidas has another field of 4000 sq metres which was fallow. “Since that field is on khajan land, it gets filled with salty water. The bandh that blocks the sea water from entering the field has not been repaired for years. But now I will be sowing that field too with brown rice of Jaya variety, as it has height. The varieties that we sowed in good old days like korgut, siddhi, dodgi, kharo aajgo, daamgo are now extict. Only Jyoti and Jaya exist,” states Rohidas.  

Rohidas, Agatha or Filomena are not the only farmers who have been motivated by the young, enthusiastic panch member of Nachinola, Pooja Mayekar, but many more have joined their bandwagon and will be cultivating their fallow agricultural fields in Ucassaim. “Thankfully, Dinesh Harmalkar of Modern Cultivation Technology Farmers’ Club of Chicalim Colvale has showed willingness to do the ploughing. He would also help with the planting, in case some of these farmers are unable to do it on their own,” shares Pooja.   

Adopting farming will help the locals earn an additional income besides their regular job. In the absence of labour, mechanized farming is the option. Agriculture can strengthen our economy and people will not be left out of jobs in case of crises, like closure of mining industry. Pooja explained locals how they can build their savings and raise their standard of living with the help of agriculture, how they can look at agriculture as an asset, how they can promote good health with Goan rice and alsande. She shared about the government projects that can be helpful for them.   

“Pooja has been active locally in empowering the women in the area, especially the schedule caste community. She guides them to go for self-employment. She instils self-confidence into them and also assists in getting trained in various courses that could offer employment. She also arranges Bal Sanskar programmes for the local children,” admits Rohidas.   

“We want to develop our brand of Ucassium rice which has medicinal properties, just like every land has its own speciality. We would like to export it too. If people across Goa buy our rice, the farmers would be able to offer good health to them,” says a hopeful Pooja who is trying to be a catalyst in helping the local farmers avail government projects, schemes and subsidies. Krishi Samrudhi FPO and Pragati Organic Co-op Society are trying to give market to the rice produced by Ucassaim farmers, though some of them prefer to sell in local market. Pooja is also trying to involve the zonal agricultural office in Mapusa to extend its help to farmers.   

“People here are very kind and humble but a bit neglected. They wanted to do ploughing but they didn’t have idea how to go about. Now with help of Modern Cultivation Technology Farmers Club of Chicalim, Colvale it was possible. I am really grateful to this Club,” smiles Pooja who is happy that she could transform the lives of local farmers and women who would be earning additional income and come above the poverty line. The land that lay fallow for decades and was cultivated by their forefathers to grow paddy, is now brought under cultivation this year. The whole belt is agricultural land on the left side of the road going up to Nachinola patto and more than a lakh sq metre area is under cultivation. With the locals taking serious interest in farming, the land will be all green once again, thanks to the efforts of panch members like Pooja who succeeded in inspiring them.  

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