Traditional Canacona farmers are selling their produce on the roadside, putting their lives, as well as that of consumers, at risk
With bumper production of seasonal fruits and vegetables grown on the slopes of Canacona and no place earmarked to sell this produce the roadside and junctions in the Taluka are being literally converted into mini markets by those selling their goods. These vendors face constant arguments from locals and social activists for posing danger to themselves and everyone around.
Canacona, witnessing rains throughout the rainy season spread evenly till now and no prolonged dry spell, has seen many fold increase in production of seasonal fruits like muskmelon and vegetables like cucumbers, lady fingers, okra, brinjal, gourds, string peas, red amaranth and other leafy vegetables.
It is also reported that there is a huge profit for those cultivating this farm products as the input cost is low due to non requirement of artificial irrigation and synthetic fertilisers as human and cattle urine and leaf mulching provides the basic nutrients required for this plants and creepers to grow in enclosures in both private and forest lands.
Of late a lot of enterprising women from ST community have started cultivating on the slopes of the interior areas of the Taluka even whilst encroaching on the forest lands which has increased the area under this type of farming to supplement the household income which is locally called kamath.
Like Canacona cashew most of the produce of these slopes is organic and high in demand but with no respite from rains till last couple of weeks the produce had remained unsold as these fruits with lot of water content don't sell on rainy days. “This has put lot of strain on this year’s income,” said a farmer selling her goods by the roadside at Sheller highway junction in Canacona.
As one travels from Balli towards Canacona there are hoards of these farmers selling their produce by the road side risking their lives as they squat dangerously close to the moving traffic. There were assurances from various political leaders that sheds would be built by the roadside keeping in mind the safety aspect, for this type of marketing activity for a better return of their labour. But till now nothing has happened on the ground complained a farmer selling kamath produce by the highway at Barcem village.
Daya Velip, a ST leader and Sarpanch of Cotigao village panchayat, who is at the forefront for the upliftment of ST community lamenting on the plight of this traditional and seasonal farmers, said the govt has built markets all over Goa where mostly non-Goans are seen selling fruits, vegetables and flowers mostly procured from outside the State and our hard working brothers and sisters are made to sit by the roadside which is dangerous to their safety".
"It's high time that we respect the traditional Goan farmers and allow them to do business with some dignity and respect," he added.