20 May 2024  |   05:59am IST

Enterprising farmer Babuso Banaulikar harvests bumper chilli crop in time for purument

Enterprising farmer Babuso Banaulikar harvests bumper chilli crop in time for purument


SIOLIM: As the monsoon season approaches, the tradition of storing provisions, known locally as ‘purument’, is observed with great enthusiasm. Elders would typically stock up on essential items like kokum peels, salt, onions, curry seeds (triphala), and most importantly, chillies. Reflecting this tradition, markets are now bustling with chillies for sale.

Among the dedicated farmers focusing on long-lasting produce is Babuso Banaulikar from Siolim-Oxel. With a 3,000 square metre farm, Babuso has a long history of successful farming, consistently leveraging various schemes and benefits from the agriculture department in Mapusa to sustain and grow his agricultural business. This year, he ventured into large-scale chilli cultivation.

Babuso is not only an experienced farmer but also a community-minded individual who helps other farmers by cutting grass with his grass-cutting machine. He believes that mutual support among farmers is essential for their collective success. For years, Babuso has also been cultivating and selling marigold flowers. His produce is primarily sold at his home or used in his family’s tea shop in Xell, Siolim, making sales straightforward.

Deciding to diversify his crop this year, Babuso purchased 2,000 Sitara variety chilli saplings from the Agriculture Department at a subsidised rate. Together with his wife, he meticulously prepared the soil and planted the saplings in December-January. By March, the plants had begun to flower and bear fruit.

Although he is pleased with the yield, Babuso acknowledges that the spacing between the plants could have been better. The ideal distance between plants should be about one-and-a-half feet to allow them to branch out properly. Despite this, his diligent care, including soil treatment with cow dung, regular irrigation, and disease prevention, has resulted in a bumper chilli crop.

In addition to chillies, Babuso has cultivated various other vegetables such as bottle gourd, ladies finger, mesh melon, breadfruits, and drumsticks. He uses well water for irrigation and anticipates further benefits once the Tillari pipeline on his plot becomes operational. “Water is very important for such plants and is, in fact, a necessity. Such plants should be regularly irrigated, particularly with the onset of summer. Once you have regular water, you can cultivate good crops even in summer,” he explains.

Since his chilli plants started yielding, Babuso has been diligently harvesting, drying, and storing the chillies. He prefers to keep most of the produce for rainy season provisions and use in his tea shop, although he does sell to buyers who come to his house. To date, he has harvested about six full sacks of chillies and expects more to come. Beyond chilli cultivation, Babuso is also involved in the cashew business. He extracts cashew juice, urrak, and feni from his cashew plot and has prepared 50 mango graft saplings to plant alongside his cashew trees.

For Babuso, agriculture is a challenging field, but if one is committed to hard work and accepts challenges, one can surely prosper. “Sometimes, there may be losses, which one has to learn to bear and continuously move forward in the pursuit of excellence,” he signs off.


Iddhar Udhar