A couple of days ago, Goa marked Revolution Day. Panjim even boasts of an ‘18th June Road’, and the great professor-poet Dr ManoharRai SarDesai wrote a poem in amchi bhas, Konkani entitled Otthra Jun to commemorate the day.
The poem has been translated into English, French, and Portuguese and published as a book through the efforts of Fernando do Rego, my senior in the Directorate of Agriculture, and author of the bilingual book Mangoes of Goa.
Incidentally, Dr ManoharRai knew, spoke and taught in all the four languages, being a professor of French, and editor of the Konkani Vishwakosh, or encyclopedia, published by Goa University.
GOA'S AGRI SCENE
The mango tree, the date and the revolution are inextricably linked.
The oft quoted poem dedicated to the Goa Revolution Day, 18 June, poignantly raises the pertinent question that calls for a response from us, “Kitle oxe aile, ghele otthra Jun? Ambea-mullant kudd’kuddta Gavddeacho por ozun!” meaning “How many times has 18 June come and gone? The ST boy is still trembling beneath the mango tree.”
It is a familiar scene in Goa, both literally and figuratively, as the Schedule Tribe youth struggle to find their place in the sun, even in the Goa agriculture department. The affirmative response has been slow in coming during the sixty years since Liberation, and eighty years since the Goa Revolution Day. There have been gains, but their distribution is still not even-handed.
We have reached close to the half-way mark in the International Year of Millets or IYM 2023. Efforts are being made to boost the production of finger millet, or nachni.
It can be done if there is some enthusiasm, specially to produce pesticide-free food, combining IYM 2023 with the PKVY (Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana) that promotes natural farming with the assistance of the union government of India.
Goa needed to be self-sufficient in food crops between 1954 and 1961 due to the ‘Economic Blockade’ of the Estado da India Portuguesa (EIP) territories of Goa, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
The ‘economic blockade’ taught the people of Goa how to cultivate crops even on marginal lands just to survive and outlive the blockade till Liberation.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
With widespread cancer in Goa, where no cases of cancer were reported till the 1960s, people have begun thinking of pesticide-free food, whether organic or naturally grown.
Non-availability of labour, and high wages when available, were a deterrent to rice cultivation and fields have been left fallow since the 1990s.
The introduction of mechanized combine-harvester-thresher with ‘custom service’ subsidy started a flow of farmers back into the fields. The era of mechanized paddy seedling transplanters, started by Fr George Quadros, sdb, has been an injection of fresh blood and ideas into agriculture.
In Curtorim, Santano Rodrigues is leading in biodiversity and seed conservation, while in Chinchinim, Agnelo Furtado has shown how components of the comunidades can be a part of this revolution.
My fellow alumnus at UAS-Bangalore, Dr KK Manohara, is developing seeds at ICAR-CCARI, Old Goa. The homegrown agriculture graduates are powering this revolution into the next generation in Goa.
The author is the 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