The South-West Monsoons have finally arrived after a long stop-over at Karwar, that reminded us of the dulpod “Aiz yetolo, faleam yetolo, pavon pavona.”
The rain is like a cue or trigger for sowing seeds, growing plants. The moment it begins raining, the people in Goa think of plants. I get flooded with queries as to where to buy what, and the standard final question, “Is it a genuine variety of seed (or plant)?” as if I would recommend a fake!
The good news is that Truthfully Labeled or TL seeds of vegetables are now produced and packed by the Farmers’ Science Centre or Krishi Vigyan Kendra of ICAR-CCARI at Ela Farm, Old Goa. In just the fifteen months that he was posted in Goa, my classmate for the BSc (Agri) course and then Principal Scientist & Head of KVK-North Goa, Dr BL Kasinath, set up a seed processing and packing unit. It is the first of its kind in Goa. He has retired on superannuation, but the seed unit continues to function.
WHAT YOU CAN GROW NOW
Ladyfingers or bhendi (Abelmoschus esculenta) is a hot favourite. Dr Kasinath tried various varieties at KVK-North in 2020, and selected Arka Anamika as the most promising. Earlier known as Selection-8, this variety is from IIHR-Bangalore and has been grown in Goa from the end 1980s, when I was doing research there while in the Goa Government service.
On my return to Goa, this variety was included in the vegetable kits, subsidized under a Government of India scheme that became very popular in Goa. It is not as good as the local Sath Xiramcho Bhendo, but it is largely tolerant to the Bhendi Yellow Vein Mosaic Disease or BYVMD. More work in the local selections for resistance breeding needs to be done.
Cluster Beans, of tidki, grow well in the monsoons and also fixe nitrogen in the soil. The popular variety is Pusa Nav Bahar or PNB. When grown with organic manure it tastes better.
Radish grows well during the monsoons and the popular variety is Pusa Chetaki.
Arka Suryamukhi is a high yielding pumpkin variety from IIHR that is now available in Goa. The pumpkin vine is traditionally trailed over the roof of a cowshed, shed or even the main house. The local term for a ‘fence-sitter’ is ‘pattna voilo dudhi’ or the pumpkin resting on the inverted-V shaped ridgeline roof tiles!
The Agricos Alumni Association, Goa, did a wonderful series of fifty webinars on agriculture every Sunday last year with a Q & A session at the end. The presenters have five to six years of exposure to organic agriculture, and most of them are passionate about growing plants.
A few of them are now helping people set up gardens and also do trouble-shooting for pests and diseases for a small fee. Social media apps and phone-based payments make it easy to share photographs, text and money.
Videos of some of the webinars (see link below) are available free to public on YouTube of the association. A book on growing vegetables organically is also available for Goa and the Konkan. Learn and grow your vegetables better this monsoon season.
CONTACT: Agricos Alumni Association, 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