The National Education Policy 2020 has been rolled out for the FY Arts, Science and Commerce streams in Goa.
And, the new curriculum has ‘Skill Enhancement Courses’ (SEC) which are new, not just to the students, but also to the teachers since they did not have such courses when they were students.
One such SEC is Agripreneurship, or entrepreneurship in agriculture. The issue is about teaching something that one does not fully understand.
At least in the initial years, it would help to support the learning process formally, or informally, by taking the students to farms where they can interact with entrepreneurs and learn hands-on what is happening there.
There are a few young agripreneurs in Goa, from whom the students and the teaching faculty can pick up the basics.
One such farm is the RasRaj Farm at Moisal-Mollem, managed by a young couple, Vandit R Naik and his wife, Priyanka – both graduates in agriculture.
Vermicompost, Panchgavya, grafts and seedlings of various fruiting and flowering plants are produced on their farm and marketed across Goa.
A visit to this farm can be combined with a visit to the Government Dairy Farm at Dhat and the Biodiversity Park of the Forest department on NH-748 at Mollem.
One can also visit the vegetable, strawberry and coconut farm of Rajat Prabhu, and the Purva Farm of Nilesh Prabhu Velguenkar, both at Nirankal, Ponda.
Nilesh is an engineer and Purva Farm has mechanical tree-climbing devices, equipment and a unit to produce coco peat. It also has post-harvest processing of fruits.
Varad Nagesh Samant has a vegetable and chilli production farm nearby. Incidentally, each of these four farms have won the Goa State award of ‘Krishi Ratna’ for their owners.
Mahesh Naryan Gaonkar of Tatodi-Dharbandora is a Krishi Vibhushan awardee for his vegetable farm, while Hemant P Samant of Nirankal is the Krishi Ratna 2023.
Anitha Mathew Vallikappan graduated from St Xavier's College, Mapusa, and operates a holistic farm at Sal village of Bicholim with aquaculture, piggery and horticultural crops.
She is the first young lady to receive the Krishi Vibhushan award. However, her call to fame is a foul smell-free piggery, which is no mean achievement.
Gautam Govind Kamat from Agas vaddo of Khola village, in Canacona, grows Goa’s staple crops of rice, coconut, areca nut, cashew and vegetables. He distills urrak and feni on the farm and has a polyhouse in which he grows orchids commercially.
He has created a sprinkler irrigation facility on his farm and has mechanized most of its operations, including weed control with a brush-cutter.
Deelip Pundalik Narulkar of Hassapur village, in Pernem taluka, is a banker who has turned into a holistic organic farmer. He has a dairy and uses the dung for vermicompost.
He grows rice, coconut, spices, vegetables and fodder using on-farm manure. He won the Fr Inacio Almeida sfx Memorial State Award for organic farming.
It is great to see budding entrepreneurs and startups venturing into the agriculture sector and building up on traditional knowledge and organic practices to maximize returns on investment and unit area of land.
Suprajit Raikar of Raika Honey, Nestor Rangel of Goa Farms, Altaf Shaikh of Golden Leaf, Chinmay Tanshikar of Tanshikar Farms and others have been like beacons for these entrepreneurs. May their tribe increase.
The author is a former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan