BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The joie de vivre of the Goan sun, sand and sea also extends to the high places of government offices. One person who best exemplifies it is Nevil Alphonso, Director of Agriculture. He essentially epitomises what it means to be truly Goan, whilst at work and off.
“I am hopeful in everything. I look at life from a positive angle, and I always look to see the good in everyone. Everyone is talented. One has to be able to spot the talent,” says Nevil, who believes not just in his colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, but that, humans, as a whole, need to be recognised for what they are.
As a youngster, hailing from an agricultural family in Paroda, Nevil was instrumental in starting a football club. He forged the talent of the youth in his village and, now, as director of agriculture, manages to draw the best out of his colleagues culturally.
Hence, the float with the theme “Grow millets, eat millets, stay healthy” by the Department of Agriculture, which enthused many during the Carnival.
“Most of my colleagues had not even been to any Carnival celebration before. They knew what it was to participate on stage, but not on the road. However, I knew there was talent, and after prompting, our floats took part in the Carnival festivities in Panjim and Margao,” said Nevil, with a smile of satisfaction on his face.
“We participated as a part of our duty to share with the farmers and people the importance of growing and consuming millet (nachni in Konkani and ragi in Hindi), and now they want to participate next year,” exclaimed Nevil, whilst admitting that many were tired at the end of the first day’s float in Panjim.
“The second day in Margao was more enjoyable. It appeared that we had managed to spread the message because the crowd interaction with us during the float was amazing,” confessed Nevil.
Working in the Department of Agriculture is one facet of Nevil’s life. Bolstering the fortunes of the youth in his village through football is another passion of his, and he does it through the Fr Agnel Youth SC in Paroda.
“Every individual must be given an opportunity to lead a club. It is only then that individuals and institutions develop,” Nevil had once said when he was handing over the reins of the club that he ran for thirteen years. The result of those words can be seen in the trophies being won.
And, that is why the feeling of camaraderie can be felt in his office in Caranzalem. His staff enters the office to take instructions and leave after finishing their task.
Even in the mundane routine of work, Nevil tries to see the best in all.
“The good in each individual needs to be spotted, and when one sees the good, it has to be kept alive. Most of my staff were at first reluctant to participate in the float, but I lit the spark in a few and everyone jumped on board. It took me around fifteen days to conceptualise and put the float together,” claims Nevil.
“All members from the float were staff members, and the two kids were children of two staff members. We just provided the tops to all. They wore their own pants and shoes,” states Nevil.
If not working on getting the best from his staff, Nevil is thinking of how to increase agricultural produce and how to attract Goan youth to agriculture.
“Mechanisation has helped in a big way, and now the focus is shifting to organic farming. Mechanisation helped alleviate the problem of labour shortage, whilst organic farming will improve financial returns,” observes Nevil.
Seventy per cent of agriculturists in Goa, according to Nevil, depend on machines, and harvesting is expected to be fully mechanical soon.
“Machines expedite work, and the introduction of high-yielding seeds and the use of fertilisers at right time increases production,” reveals Nevil.
Despite his schedule as director, Nevil still makes time for football and activities in his parish in Paroda, as he rattles off the number of tournaments the club he started has participated in and has won.
“The connection with my village started when I was young. I grew up in Paroda with my fellow villagers. I had fun playing and interacting with others, and I enjoyed studying. I inculcated my love for agriculture from my family as we were agriculturists, and I always felt I should give back,” concludes Nevil as he prepares to leave for another meeting.
Until then, the music composed for the float rings in the ears of the staff, on whose faces contentment is visible. Their happiness stems from a director who inspires them.