I congratulate Fr Visitacao B Monteiro for his timely article on ‘Framing a new Agriculture Policy for Goa’ (O Heraldo, September 29). I very often wonder why vast paddy fields are unutilized or uncultivated. I keep saying that this is a crime, a big offence or even a mortal sin to waste God given land to Goa and Goans. We are offending the good God, the creator and giver of land to us human beings.
In the Bible (Book of Genesis), God through our first parents commanded us “in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; and you shall eat the plants of the field” (Gen. 3:17-18). We have forgotten this mandate given by God and we are cultivating only our banks. I know there is a mad exodus to UK and other countries for jobs and economical benefits. Something can still be done to get our lands cultivated either by community agricultural clubs or associations or by the Department of Agriculture itself or even given to the poor and needy.
When I see such vast uncultivated fields, I know that we have enough of money that we can easily buy rice or vegetables instead of working hard to cultivate our fields. In places such as Jharkhand or Punjab or even Kerala, their people won’t leave any piece of land uncultivated. In some parts of our country, people will cut forest areas and make place for the cultivation of paddy. But we here in Goa are wasting our fertile lands for the weeds to flourish.
As a child going to school from Cansaulim to Margao, we used to see verdant greenery all along the road side and the railway tracks. Gone are those days, now we only see barren lands with wild shrubs and weeds flourishing instead of paddy and other vegetables.
Fr Monteiro has also given various very wise and apt suggestions, since he has done a thorough study on Khazans and has authored a book Goan Village Communities. I wish that his article will bear some good fruit, at least that our village panchayats or the Agricultural Department will soon come out with some good schemes that will take care of all our barren and abandoned paddy fields.
One good suggestion that he gives is that our education system should add agriculture as one subject. I know when our children are taught from childhood to love dharti-mata, our Mother Earth and get one’s hands soiled in the land, they will surely grow up having a liking for agriculture or having their own home garden and also to cultivate their fields or the fields of those that have left Goa and gone.
We imbibed love for agriculture from our elders. We accompanied them to the fields, worked with them to help them both to cultivate the fields and also to have our own horticulture and eat fresh veggies as fruits of our labour. We also enjoyed while working and also it was fun to work and play with the soil.
Let us remember the parable of the Talents in the Bible of Mathew 25:14-30, the first two persons doubled the talents that were given to them by the Master, but the third one went and buried the talent in the ground thus yielding nothing. Then the Master took away whatever was given to him and gave it to the industrious persons and the third person was sent to eternal condemnation. Let this third person’s fate not be ours at the time of final judgment, but a reward like the first two. Therefore let us pay heed to Fr Monteiro and within the next year see some fruitful results and restore the past glory of cultivated rice fields which are soothing to our eyes.