MARGAO: At a time when the tourism sector has overpowered most of the state’s other industries, the decision of several Goans to persevere with the traditional occupation of agriculture is certainly refreshing. This is particularly the case in the villages of Utorda and Nuvem in Salcete, which are presently brimming with locally grown watermelons.
Long hours of toiling in the fields under the scorching sun appear to have paid off for the farmers as the fruits of their labour dot virtually every roadside in Nuvem as well as the Margao-Panjim highway.
“Preparation of the land begins in November, and after three months of back-breaking work, it is indeed satisfying to see such a good crop of watermelons this year,” says farmer Pedro Santan Fernandes, who has been cultivating watermelons for the last 40 years. “Each melon is sold for Rs 300 and this bumper harvest has prompted many vendors to sell watermelons at various parts of the village.”
Instrumental in the success of the crop is the state’s agriculture department and the local panchayat, representatives of which often visited the farmers and offered help and guidance.
“Over the past two years, we found that the vines were being attacked by bacteria. To remedy this, we reached out to scientists from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and teachers of the Don Bosco agriculture college,” says Salcete zonal agriculture officer Sheriff Furtado. “The farmers were guided about the precautions they needed to take and were also provided with germicides. We even made water pumps available on subsidy.”
This year’s watermelon produce has been so good that the fruit has been harvested from close to 1,000 sq metres of farmland, Furtado says. “Even if the farmers are unable to sell all of it, the horticulture department will buy it from them at appropriate rates," he adds.