CANACONA: Despite vast tracks of fields in Canacona, agriculture in the taluka is dying a slow death since youth are not so much keen on taking up farming. The younger generation is more attracted to jobs in the tourism sector due to fast buck.
Paddy cultivation is one of the basic occupations of the people in the taluka, however, the youngsters have shied away from it.
Seasonal vegetables and fruits are also grown; however, there is no use of scientific approach to increase the produce. Most of these are grown for consumption purpose. There are also cashew plantations at several places in the taluka.
As far as the paddy and other cops are concerned, the yields are often not so encouraging. The crops are hit by diseases and, therefore, the yields are lower. A farmer Manohar Bhomkar said that today’s youth have lost interest in farming as many job avenues are available after attaining education with degrees and diplomas.
Puno Gaonkar and Gurkho Velip said that one of the reasons that are keeping farmers away from large-scale cultivation is the non-profitability factor due to low market rates.
The frequent decline in the profit margin on agrarian products like coconuts, arecanut, bananas, sugarcane, cashew nuts and so on has rendered the farmers helpless, compelling them to look for other avenues.
When the government is laying stress on agriculture and allied activities, vast tracts of land is still lying fallow all over the taluka, while a few areas, which were dominantly used for paddy cultivation, have also turned into wastelands.
Although the government is implementing schemes to revive and modernise agriculture in the state, the scenario in Canacona is not encouraging.
A farmer said that before the monsoon the farmers used to get busy with preparations for cultivation of the paddy crop, but that is not the case today.
He said although the government’s support, for adopting modern methods of farming, has made the occupation little easier, the farmers and the younger generation are still not so enthused to take up farming on a wider scale.
Stating that farming is become less time-consuming, with traditional methods being replaced by modern ways, he said the government will still have to make more efforts to attract the youth to agriculture. As per zonal office in Canacona, the taluka has around 3000 hectare of land under paddy cultivation while the rabi crop cultivation is taken up on an area covering 200 to 300 hectare.
For instance, large tracts of land in Devbhag, within the municipal jurisdiction, used to be under cultivation some five-ten years ago, but today more than half of the land is lying fallow.
A source said that the original owners do not cultivate their fields but lease them out to farmers belonging to the ST community who cultivate the fields during the rabi season, but to a limited extent.
The source further said that the real problem is that some of these farmers fail to get subsidies through the agriculture department as the landlords from whom they have taken the fields on lease are not ready to give them the tenancy rights.
Farmers from Cotigao and Gaondongrem, during the kharif season, use the age-old methods to cultivate the fields as they are situated in the uplands. And, since it requires more labour and mostly the cultivation depends on timely rains, some farmers have abandoned the fields and taken up daily-wage jobs.
Some of these farmers said that daily-wage jobs are better than working in fields due to faster money and less hard work.
Canacona farmers are also facing problems like most of the land belongs to either landlords or comunidade, the sluice gates are not in good condition, the bunds have suffered breaches with saline water entering fields. Owing to such problems, the people are opting for fish farming which is turning out to be a lucrative business.
No doubt the government provides a subsidy for pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, machinery etc and assured price for paddy, which is now at Rs 17- Rs 19 per kg, still the youth are not convinced and opt for other jobs than the field work.
Zonal agriculture officer Shivram Gaonkar said that the farmers in Canacona should go in for agriculture-related activities which are tax free. Besides, the government allots them nearly 70 per cent subsidy if they belong to ST community, while the general category get a subsidy of 50 per cent, he said.
When the subsidy is around 70 per cent and the assured price is Rs 17-Rs 19 per kg, why should the farmers not opt for paddy cultivation, remarked Gaonkar.
Gaonkar said that under the system of rice intensification (SRI), nearly 20 plots have been identified and during this rabi season nearly 50 hectare will be covered. Besides, the farmers also sowed seeds like Karzat-3, Jyoti and Jaya for paddy cultivation.
Some youth said they prefer to work in seasonal shacks at Palolem due to fast buck. When you can earn Rs 500 per day, why miss the opportunity, said a youth Prakash Velip.
A lot of fields in Canacona are lying fallow, thanks to lack of interest in farming activity by youth, who are drawn more towards white-collared jobs after attaining education.