Goa being a tropical state makes it next to impossible to cultivate crops grown in cold regions here. The post-success of strawberry cultivation at Verlem-Salgini has dispelled this myth. Is it possible for us to cultivate apples in Goa now? Yes! the scientists working at the Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute of Goa (ICAR) believe so. They have planted around 15 apple trees in Verlem to give shape to their belief.
If this experiment is successful, then Verlem's identity could be established as the apple village of Goa along with its strawberry status. Besides apples, research is on to see whether potatoes too can be grown here.
With the four varieties of cauliflower developed by agriculture scientists now being produced on a large scale, the ICAR has decided to look into the commercial aspect so as to benefit people.
Dr Ganesh Chaudhari, agro-scientist from ICAR, informed that the most successful experiment of ICAR at present, if any, is cauliflower cultivation in Goa. "The centre in Delhi developed four varieties of cauliflower namely Pusha Ashwini, Pusha Kartiki, Pusha Meghna and Pusha Sharad. The same saplings were planted by the centre in Verlem next to the strawberries," he informed.
He said that ICAR-Goa believes that this experiment has been more than successful. Now the centre has tied up with the State agriculture department for commercial cultivation of cauliflower and these crops are currently being cultivated at Ella (Old Goa) farm of the centre.
Coming back to the experiment related to apple cultivation in Goa, Dr Parveen Kumar, Director ICAR, revealed that the 15 apple trees planted in May have rooted well. "These trees will take another two years to bear fruit. He said that the success of this experiment will be known only after two years," he added.
The apple experiment is being conducted taking into account the success story of strawberries in Verlem, which lies around 700 metres above sea level by virtue of which it has a cool climate.
The first attempt to plant strawberries in this village was made in 2010. In the first year itself, the farmers earned an income of around three lakhs from cultivating strawberries. Ever since then, the village has become a tourist destination, informed Milan Gaonkar Zonal Agricultural Officer- Sanguem.
Meanwhile, the agriculture department has also started new experiments cultivating black rice. Many farmers in Salcete taluka have harvested this black rice this year due to high demand and price.
Dharbandora taluka too is seeing the cultivation of a variety of crops on a big scale. An agriculturist from Dharbandora taluka, Varad Samant, has cultivated cabbage and tomato on a large scale this time. Last year, he had harvested green chillies on a big scale.
Samant, who is full-time into agriculture, said, "I feel farming and eco-tourism make a good pair and there is a lot of scope for these two activities. Tourists could come and see the beautiful hinterlands of the state and at the same time experience the agricultural bounty of the State."