BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
With the southwest monsoon finally getting stronger in most parts of Goa since Friday, agricultural labourers have begun ploughing their fields in north Goa whilst transplanting has already started in the south.
“Rains started in Goa around last week and we hope we get good rains for the rest of the season. Planting of seeds was delayed in the upper areas as farmers wait till the springs come alive,” disclosed Nevil Alphonso, Director of Agriculture.
“We have finished transplanting in Betalbatim, Colva, Carmona, Chinchinim and Assolna and are expected to finish in Cavellosim today. We do not depend on the rains to develop our paddy nurseries like other farmers do and that is why we have started transplanting,” discloses Fr George Quadros who is hailed as the father of community farming in South Goa.
If Fr Quadros and his team are happy in the south, farmers in the north are still hoping the rain will continue so as to allow them to finish ploughing their fields and start planting.
“I have just ploughed my field once and hope to finish the second round today. The rains have started very late and the outlook does not appear good though I am positive and hoping for the best,” claims Pravin Pereira who gave up his job with the Department of Agriculture to take up farming.
“I follow the BBC weather forecast and must admit that even they have not been able to forecast properly this year. It is not because they are bad but because their systems are not tuned to forecast changes being brought in by global warming,” professes Pravin.
“We are coming to the end of June and still no proper rain. I had to pump water from my well to my fields and have started work. The skies appear cloudy and there is a burst of rain and it is followed by hot sunshine. This is weird but I have to continue, hoping the weather will improve,” says Remedios as he adjusts the pipe of his pump in the field.
“The government wants to convert agricultural land to allow huge constructions to come up in hilly areas and then they expect us farmers to be blessed with abundant water. Believe me, there will come a time when we will have to demolish those illegal structures to be able to grow food for us,” warns Pravin.
“Paddy cultivation has started three weeks late because of the delay in the arrival of monsoon. But we expect things to normalise now. Just because we have started late, it does not mean the output will be less. On the other hand, it will be late and that is all,” promises Nevil.
“The forecast for the output of paddy has been good based on the assurances that the monsoon will be normal this year. Farmers may have had to start with worries but the horizon looks good for all,” predicted Nevil.