Farming gets a boost in Goa post mining ban period

By TheHindu on 06 May 2017

With people in some taluks of the State getting a major jolt following the ban on mining, agricultural activities in taluks like Sanguem, coming under the Western Ghats, is mercifully showing a major revival.

New cropping method

A group of journalists on a tour of Neturli and other agricultural villages of Sanguem taluk of south Goa, on Thursday, found that traditional agriculturists and youth in these areas have taken to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The push in the form of support through mechanisation and fertilizer supplies has come from the State’s Agriculture Department.

Nelson Fiegueiredo, Assistant Director, Agriculture; Dattaprasad Dessai, Zonal Agricultural Officer; and other officials of the department accompanying the presspersons explained how they have been motivating farmers to take to new methods of cropping to enhance their agricultural productivity.

Though introduced in 2009-10, promotion of SRI on a wider scale in Goa started in 2012-13 with coverage of around 250 hectares (ha) of land. It is proposed to cover 1,000 ha during 2013–14.

Mr. Fiegueiredo said the component “promotion of SRI” provides training for officials as well as farmers and provision of incentives like free manually operated weeder and second dose of Muriate of Potash fertilizer costing up to Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 400, respectively, wherever a farmer covers 0.1 ha or more under the SRI.

Solar fencing

With the destruction of agricultural crops by wild as well as domestic animals, a common menace in these thickly forested areas of the Western Ghats, the Agriculture Department has heavily subsidised solar fencing.

The Goa government provides 90 per cent subsidy limited to Rs. 2 lakh on a standard solar power fencing system, said officials.

An enterprising farmer from Vaddem, Sanguem Antonio Silva, proudly explained to the touring presspersons how when combined with drip irrigation and intercrops, he has been able to get double the yield of sugarcane with 60 per cent to 70 per cent saving on seed material, harvesting costs and weeding by using machinery. Persuaded and guided by the likes of Mr. Dessai, Mr. Antonio said he took to improved sugarcane cultivation system on his two pieces of land wherein plantlets raised in poly bags from single eye budded (node) pieces are planted at 5’x2’ spacing.

He explained that the system enables raising of intercrops, development of more number of canes (tillers) per hill each weighing 2 kg or more.

This progressive farmer’s Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) plot is laid out as a Front Line Demonstration (FLD) by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, south Goa, Directorate of Agriculture.

Honey centre

With plans to develop Neturli village of Sanguem as ‘Honey Centre of Goa’, nearly 50 farmers of Neturli, Tudou and Gaondongrim were trained in beekeeping by experts from the National Bee Board. And, the farmers were taken on a visit to Pune and other beekeeping centres. Subsequently, Apis and mellifera variety of bees are now introduced and their performance is being studied.

Goa has three types of bees: Apri Florea, Apis Cerena and Rock Bees (Apis Dorsate), said Mr. Dessai. The State government provides 90 per cent subsidy for a Scheduled Tribe member for availing the bee boxes and 75 per cent for general farmers, he said while on a visit to Neturli. At present, 150 colonies are established in area.

With regard to promotion of vermin-compost, the Agriculture Department officials disclosed that 20 vermi-compost units have been installed in the State in two years.

The government has announced assistance limited to Rs. 935 a sq. m for construction of greenhouse, with full project constructed with a bank loan and 50 per cent assistance limited to Rs. 250 a sq. m towards planting material for flower production and Rs. 53 a sq. m towards vegetable production.

For “jalkund” project where artificially created structure on hill slope or on a plain area designed to store water or trap run off during rains to meet the critical demand of the crop for their growth is encouraged, Goa government seeks to provide 100 per cent assistance limited to Rs. 18,289 a unit of size 4mx2mx1.5m, with a capacity to 12 cubic of water.

Bank loans

The revival of agriculture and related activities in the State post mining ban has been confirmed recently at a bankers’ quarterly conclave.

The commercial and cooperative banks in Goa which are presently reeling under the pressure of mounting non-performing assets owing to heavy sticky loans to mining-related sectors and activities have done a total disbursement of Rs. 559.99 crore for the agriculture sector in the State, which is against the annual credit plan target of Rs. 384.08 crore.

At the recently held State-level bankers committee meeting, it was revealed that the banks had crossed disbursement target for both crop loans and agricultural term loans.

90 p.c. subsidy given for solar power fencing

Neturli village to be developed as honey centre of Goa