PERNEM: Award-winning organic farmer Shekhar Parashtekar is an inspiration to Goan youth who think there is no money in farming. This 58-year-old son of the soil from Parashte village in Pernem taluka, asserts that with patience and consistency, even a farmer can make a great living – the fact that you get to produce food crops that sustain and nourish man and beast alike, is an added perk.
After studying till the seventh standard, Parashtekar had to leave school and take up farming as his only profession, as his father died when he was only nine years old. Taking responsibility for his family, Parashtekar whole-heartedly immersed himself into farming. Initially, he started with a small plot of coconut and areca palms which were planted by his father. He slowly but steadily expanded his farm, and now, he has around five plots covering the Totak area of around 8,000 sq mtrs, where he has grown coconut trees, areca and pepper vines.
Parashtekar now has a grove of 900 areca nut palms, which produces around 1,500 kg of the cash crop each year. His plantation also yields 450 kilos of pepper a year, and 7,000 coconuts, which he uses to make coconut oil.
For the last forty years, Parashtekar has been consistent at his job, showing up every day irrespective of the weather, and has grown into a success story, with the support of his wife and family. He says that he never had anyone to guide him personally, and had to take the initiative to educate himself. “ Visiting different agricultural villages in the neighbouring states helped me learn the process of organic farming,” he explains.
Parashtekar, who was recently awarded for his sustainable farming practices, adds that people also visit his farm to study the process of organic farming.
To produce fertiliser, he uses a shredder to mulch the waste, which he further uses as manure.
Along with farming, Parashtekar also produces vermicompost and usually has an excess of six bags, with a capacity of a whopping 700 kg each, which he sells to other farmers and nurseries.