The Botanical Society of Goa (BSG) along with the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) as the festival partner, has been organizing the Konkan Fruit Fest since May 2003. The event was back this year, with the support of the Directorate of Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwar (UAS-D), nurserymen, fruit processors and fruit enthusiasts.
THIS YEAR’S HIGHLIGHTS
There were luscious mangoes, locally grown and naturally ripened in paddy straw, on sale. So were fruit products, from ready-to-drink (RTD) juices, squashes, milkshakes and mojitos to ready-to-drink ice-creams, cakes and pastries and take-home jams, pickles, fruit papad, desiccated products and vinegar. Obviously, they were a pleasure to eat or drink and were enjoyed by the young and the old.
There were competitions of fresh fruits, fruit products and potted fruit plants to involve the adults as participants, instead of being mere spectators, visitors or end-users of the exhibition. Fruit-eating competitions, to bring in an element of fun, with the mingling of the young in age and the young at heart together in a single event.
There was a drawing and colouring competition for small children. There were demonstrations in bonsai and in fruit carving. Fruit plants, both local and exotic tropical fruit, were on sale. Everyone had something to do, something to contribute to the festival, something to learn and something to take away, even if it was a happy memory that cost nothing to create. The event is free and open to the public, right on the footpath!
COMING TO FRUIT
A large section of the residents of Goa now live in apartments, with little or no access to the ground to grow plants. Over the years, especially during the recent pandemic, many home-makers have been growing vegetables, chillies, tomatoes and coriander in pots and trays. Some have begun growing fruit plants in pots, and the range of fruit plants grown in Goa is expanding.
Oscar Silveira, from Borda, and Laban D’Souza, from Nuvem, have large collections of them and Nestor Rangel’s Farm de Goa sold fruit plants, as did Anup Poinguinkar of Green Fingers, and Meghnath Kerekar of Shree Agro.
Two out-of-State nurseries also sold fruit plants. We hope to get a tremendous response in this section for the “Plant Utsav,” which will be held this November, in Panjim. These are what we call “expected outcomes”.
The Konkan Fruit Fest (KFF) also has some “unexpected outcomes”. After gaining recognition for his kokum or bhirinda fruits, Shrihari Naik Kurade planted two thousand bhirandd trees with irrigation at Ambaulim, close to his Cuncolim residence. He and Fr Inacio Almeida, sfx, were the mainstay of the KFF till 2012.
In 2013 & ‘14, the event was held at BPS Club, Margao, on demand from members and public from South Goa. The event would have flopped in 2013, had it not been for the participation of Laban D’Souza, with an overwhelming range of fruits from his farm in Nuvem.
In 2015, the KFF came back to Panjim and a soft-spoken young lady, named Cassie Rodrigues, volunteered to assist in the conduct of the competitions. During the course of the first day, we learnt that she had a PhD in Botany with a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. After the KFF, she agreed to lead a “Tree Survey” of Panjim and rope in some of her taxonomy savvy juniors.
Later, I requested her to assist the Salesians of Don Bosco, and to prepare for the first affiliation inspection committee (AIC) visit to approve the starting of the first agriculture college in Goa. She agreed, was a tremendous help, and ended up as the founding Principal of the Don Bosco College of Agriculture, Sulcorna-Goa! Some of the persons who she taught there were the young agriculture graduates, who powered KFF 2022. The KFF brings out the best among plant lovers 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