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- ‘Goa requires a bottom to top approach for farming policies’
‘Goa requires a bottom to top approach for farming policies’
Goa is a small state. Land is scarce and maximum utilisation of this scarce resource can only be done by optimal use of resources available with us. VIKANT SAHAY spoke to stakeholders in agriculture to know the ground reality
With Modi 2.0 government taking its first cabinet decision on farmers’ welfare schemes, it is clear that the government wants to send a message to all the states that for the next five years they will prioritise agriculture and welfare of farmers, which was being ‘neglected’ for several decades.
Goa has so far been seen as a state with potential in tourism, mining and lately the buzz around Information Technology. However, agriculture in Goa contributes at least seven per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State. Prime Minister Modi has promised that by 2022 the income of the farmers will be doubled.
In response to the Prime Minister’s call a sensitization session was conducted last year by the Government of India where two senior functionaries from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) had come to Goa and had briefed the officers and the farmers about the seven point strategy for doubling the farmers’ income. In another meeting with ICAR, the line departments were also called at Old Goa and it was a brain storming session, based on which certain recommendations specifically for Goa were finalised.
However, the debate now is whether Goa should retain its own way of agriculture or take a leaf out of the Israel way of farming, which includes drip irrigation, customised farming etc. In fact, water melons produced in Israel is square in shape so that it could be packaged well and exported to United Kingdom and United States of America. The question arises as to whether Goa is prepared to emulate this?
Father George Qudros of Don Bosco Society of Loutolim who is also popularly known as ‘Paddy Man’ said, “According to me the delivery system of the government first needs to improve. The schemes about Kazan land is still not clear in Goa. The statements are there and appreciated but what we farmers need is delivery. The agriculture department needs to set all things right as they carry it forward. The Goan farmers know exactly what is good for Goa, not the Israelis farmers or their technocrats. Any policy should be from bottom to top and not top to bottom. This bottom to top approach will help Goan farmers a lot.”
Chairman of the Agriculture Committee of the Goa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Miguel Braganza said, “We do not need Israeli technology. We have to organise people here in Goa who are experts and know the work. For example, in Santo Estevam island, more than 25 lakh square meters of paddy field was being lying fallow for more than 20 years. Last year one electronic engineer combined with the local youth, parish and the panchayat to cultivate about five lakh square meters of land. They all put in their own money and this year they are heading for a target of ten lakh square meters.”
Braganza further added that, “It is about motivation and not about technology. Farmers in Goa need motivation more than imported technology. We have to do it ourselves. In Vengurla research station for last 15 years we are growing Maya variety mangoes through Israel technology which was accepted well. Israel already has a Center for Excellence in Ratnagiri district and you do not need to go to Israel to learn from them. It is hardly 200 kilometers to go and get all the technology you want and it is a Government of India funded Center for Excellence.”
Nelson Figueiredo, former Director of Agriculture said, “They (Israel) are trying to only market their technology and product. They do not build you up and you become dependent on them. Whatever should be done has to be studied and should suit the Goan conditions. I agree that we use a lot of pesticides in tomatoes and capsicum. We have our center for excellence which has a great conglomeration of scientists and experienced agriculturists. Why do we have to go to Israel to learn from them? India is an agrarian society and nearly 50 per cent of the people in this country of 1.3 billion depend on agriculture business and activity. If we import agricultural technology from abroad our own varieties and produce will be lost in future.”
The new technology also says to introduce technical poly-houses which can prove very expensive and the produce will cost more in the market which will impact the lower middle class and middle class buyers a lot. Nowhere in the West Coast whether it is Maharashtra, Karnataka or Goa, such poly-houses have been constructed.
“All such protocols of these poly-houses have pesticides and it should be made transparent both to the farmers and consumers,” said a source from the agriculture expertise. When health sector advises us to ‘go back to the villages’, ‘eat what your grandparents used to eat’ to avoid new forms of lifestyle diseases, it contradicts the push for technology.