Goa is becoming greener again. On Goa’s Liberation Day, we can celebrate the vision of its first Chief Minister, Bhausaheb Dayanand B Bandodkar, of universalizing primary education and establishing the first degree college in Goa. It does not bear his name, or even that of the Goa Education Society.
The Goa College of Agriculture, Ela, likewise does not bear the name of the founders of the first college of agriculture in Goa, nor does the Goa University mark it “Founder’s Day” as it used to.
Goa, the land, its people, culture and language are important, not individuals whose names will forever be the topic of futile and inconclusive discussions like the ‘Father of the Opinion Poll’. Success has a thousand fathers, failure dies an orphan!
CHANGING THE AGRI SCENE
The introduction of mechanized paddy seedling transplanters and combine harvester-thresher with ‘custom service’ subsidy started a flow of farmers back into the fields. The ‘father’ of the mechanized transplanter process is Fr George Quadros sdb.
Time will tell if he will have a memorial award like the ‘Fr Inacio Almeida sfx State Award for Organic Farming’ that has been instituted by the Government of Goa in honour of the ‘father’ of organic agriculture in Goa, and is awarded on every Liberation Day since 2015.
It is a rare honour. Fr Almeida was a doer and suffered transfers because of his achievements. He was banished to the remote village of Bhirondem in Sattari, which he brought to the centre stage before taking leave from the GMC Hospital on New Year’s Day in 2014. He was returned to his Dharti Mata, on Pilar hill, where he had earlier wished to die.
THE WAY FORWARD
The earliest State Agriculture Universities (SAUs) accredited to ICAR began in the mid-1960s. Technical graduates were needed to coax or browbeat local farmers into using fertilizers. New, fertilizer-responsive varieties were introduced. They were invariably susceptible to insect pests and chemical insecticides found a market.
Chemical herbicide toxicity is a cause for concern since the era of Glyophosate, from Monsanto, and now Almix, from DuPont. Fortunately for Goa, the paramparagat krishi or natural farming bug has bitten deep like the eriophyid mite in the coconut. The Goa College of Agriculture will need to take forward the natural farming practices.
We are happy that the ‘Green Revolution’ made us self-sufficient in foodgrains, and we are also able to export food grains from India. That is good in a country that had famines till the time of Independence and was not self-sufficient in foodgrains even when it liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan in December, 1971.
It is now time to review our food production systems. The farmers of Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have seen their fields go barren and indebtedness due to failure of insecticides to save their cotton crops which has made thousands of farmers drink a cup of insecticide to end their misery.
For too long, we have lived believing that “Goa is mine”, the land of the tambddi mati. The casino era has partly changed the connotation. Natural farming, with mechanization and processing, is the answer for Goa to build a USP of great tourism with safe food and a clean and green environment. The Goa-educated agriculture graduates are ‘future-ready’ to lead by example.
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