11 Mar 2024  |   06:07am IST

Unsung heroes of rice production blending Goa’s age-old farming practices with innovative solutions

From planting to harvesting of ‘Korgut’ and ‘Assgo’ varieties, a band of likeminded people touches upon how this culminates in the steam boiling process
Unsung heroes of rice production blending Goa’s age-old farming practices with innovative solutions


MARGAO: In an effort to shine a spotlight on Goa’s unique rice varieties, such as ‘Korgut’ and ‘Assgo’, and to highlight the unsung heroes of rice production, Goa Panchayati Raj Institutions (GPRI) Union convenor J Santan Rodrigues along with his dedicated Agrobiodiversity team, unveiled a presentation that seamlessly blends age-old farming practices with innovative solutions.

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Rodrigues, who dubbed himself the ‘non-playing captain’, credits the tireless efforts of individuals like Jose D’Costa, a former second engineer from Nuvem, who has built his unique steam boiler system, Narendra Shirodkar, a rice mill owner from Maina-Curtorim, and two dedicated farmers, Guilherme Oliveira from Rachol and Matthew Oliveiro from Camurlim-Loutolim. The GPRI Union commended Guilherme for his steadfast commitment to cultivating the ‘Assgo’ rice variety and, similarly, Matthew for his work in cultivating the ‘Korgut’ rice variety.

According to Rodrigues, Korgut is red in colour and varies in size as compared to the white coloured ‘Assgo’ variety. Rodrigues gave the example of how ‘Assgo’ is used for ‘Kanji’ and the health benefits of consuming ‘Korgut’ rice.

Both of these indigenous rice varieties have been nurtured for centuries in the khazan fields of Goa, benefiting from the natural fertilisers present in the water-logged regions.

The farmers proudly emphasise that these cherished rice varieties are cultivated organically, devoid of any chemical fertilisers.

They also add that ‘Korgut’ and ‘Assgo’ stand as another testament to Goa’s rich agricultural heritage. According to studies, these rice varieties boast high salinity tolerance and nutritional value.

The farmers added that this is a self-sustaining agricultural model, providing sustenance for their families.

They also stress the importance of preserving traditional practices and imparting this knowledge to the younger generation, ensuring the continuation of his forefathers’ legacy.

While the farmers further elucidated about the intricate processes involved in rice cultivation, from planting to harvesting, Rodrigues touched upon how this culminates in the steam boiling process overseen by D’Costa. Subsequently, the rice is dried before being sent to local rice mills.

Here, Rodrigues drew attention to Narendra Shirodkar, the proud proprietor of a rice mill in Maina-Curtorim, who is also continuing the legacy of his father.

Shirodkar, who also accepts ‘Jyoti’ and ‘Jaya’ rice varieties alongside ‘Korgut’ and ‘Assgo’, played a crucial role in establishing Goa's first community seed bank, for which he was given a special ‘Beej Mitra’ card.

Shirodkar’s mill attracts farmers from across Salcete and its surrounding areas.

Rodrigues, who was also involved in the seed bank initiative as the Maina-Curtorim Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) Chairperson, further highlighted the continued distribution of seeds from that bank.

These collective endeavours, rooted in preserving Goa’s agricultural heritage, ensure that the State’s identity endures for generations to come. Through the dedication of such individuals, these Goan rice varieties stand as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of its people.


Iddhar Udhar