13 Aug 2017 06:01am IST
The just concluded Assembly session had a session where in our youthful leader of Fatorda constituency and Hon. Agriculture as well as TCP Minister spoke at length about his plans to infuse new concepts and launch several schemes to reach the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s clarion call to “Double the Farmers income by 2020”.On previous occasion, I had heard him speak as the Chief Guest at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s Annual Review Meeting held at the campus of Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute CCARI [Previously ICAR] located at Old Goa, wherein I came know that he is the product of KKV [Konkan Krishi Vidyapith, Dapoli] and I was a bit relieved to note that he being an Agriculture Graduate which may enable him to understand the technical problems faced by the farmers and would try his best to launch pro-farmer schemes visa-vis+- his knowledge and power at his command as the Minister of this noble but neglected sector i.e. Agriculture which has been neglected by the previous regimes His aggressive and optimistic stance in recently concluded Assembly made me think to write this piece of article this article and express my point of view as a retired Agricultural Subject Matter Specialist. I keenly watched the Demands for Grants for Agriculture and the Budgetary Demands as a Post Graduate in Agriculture and having spent 33 years in public service specially in Transfer of Technology programmes of ICAR. I thought I would pen my views on a regular basis with twin objectives of creating an awareness among the farming community and also help the policy makers take cognizance of some of my views if not all so that we move towards the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Agriculture is a wide subject. Doubling of income of farmers is a herculean task. At the national level, it appears to be a Herculean task and a huge challenge to all the extension functionaries be it subject Matter specialists of over 600 Krishi vigyan Kendras spread in all the districts of the country.
Let us now examine the various reasons why I feel the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s clarion call will not meet success in Goa unless everyone involved in this noble task work in tandem. As of now, there is no clear cut agriculture policy in place Scientists, departmental extension officials and KVK subject Matter Specialists in each of the districts of the country get involved right away to galvanize the resources and potentialities of resources that are available or frame a time bound plan to make “Doubling of farmer’s income by 2020” a reality.
As far as Goa is concerned, the state is horticulturally dominant state with over 60% cultivable area under crops like Cashewnut Coconut, Arecanut, Mango(no commercial plantations), Jackfruit, Banana, Pineapple, Bread fruit and other minor and lesser known fruits like Kokum and not to forget the Breadfruit which is being sold atRs150/to300 a piece depending on size.,……….
The area under rice and rice based cropping system like seasonal vegetables, sweet potato, pulse or legume crop like Alsando and groundnut constitute the agrarian scenario in the state.
Let us in the beginning see what is the present status of Income of the farming community of Goa. The agricultural commodities marketed in Goa has a well knit marketing infrastructure in the Goa Bagayatdar Sahakari Kharedi Vikri Kendra (GBSKVK) with it’s Head quarters at Ponda as well as Societies for maketing cashewnut at Balli and Pernem.
Doubling farmers income in 30 months is a mammoth task. My take on this is that it will remain only on paper until and unless drastic mind set change is brought about by the farmers themselves equally supported and executed by the extension agencies that are involved There are a afew things we may have to consider both at the policy making level and at the extension agencies, scientists and also at the farmer’s level.Can we really bring about this change in 900days time frame ??
Till date, though the Government has now assured in the Legislative Assembly that the Agriculture Policy it would be in place soon following factors needs consideration.
• The per unit productivity of all the crops in Goa is far below the National averages thereby making farming exercise non remunerative
• High labour cost and timely availability cuts into the total income of the farmer since the cost of cultivation of the crop increases
• The productivity of all the crops is low because of suboptimal dose of fertilizer or the majority of farmers do not possess soil health card as emphasized by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
• Other then nutrient deficiencies organic carbon of soils in Goa is very low This interferes with the uptake of nutrients and food uptake by microrganisms (mineralisation) leading to low yield
• Bring about a system in place like raita bazar in Tamilnadu and Karnataka wherein the farmers get premium or maximum price for their produce.
• In Goa things related to agriculture are taken very lightly like there is a talk of Organic farming. I myself have been the propagator of organic farming and understand the seriousness of Business of Organic farming. There have been and there will be attempts from scrupulous elements to market their agricultural produce as “Organic” and charge premium price in shopping malls.
• We have to eliminate the middle men or the reduce the marketing chain from grower to consumer and that would require Government resolve with suitable advisor /consultant.
• The most important factor to fructify the mission of the Hon. Prime Minister is the marketability of the produce from the production point to the consumer table
(The author is retired Subject Matter Specialist (Agronomy) in ICAR now re- designated as Central Coastal Research Institute with post graduate degree in Agriculture 37 years of service in various capacities.)