Margao based, Laban D’Souza’s passion for cultivation made him turn to farming post-retirement where he is the winner of several state awards for agriculture, reports Abdulla Khan
The coconut trees on the fringes of the property sway in the cool wind in between green paddy fields of Kirbhat-Nuvem. The silence is broken by the noisy African boer- a high breed goat. Right above the pond is a small hut where hens peep out. Snowy rabbits greets every visitor to KOCL research farm where you meet Laban D’Souza in his 70s practising integrated organic farming for last 15 years.
Laban an award winning farmer from Comba-Margao had worked as quality assurance manager with United Breweries, Bethora. After retiring from his high profile job he decided to invest his hard earned money into farming activity and bought a property measuring area 3000sqm.
“I wanted to do farming so I got this land and was doing paddy cultivation, but I found my entire hard efforts go waste as stray cattle venture into the field during harvesting time and end it,” lamented D’Souza, who says he did not have any farming experience before he purchased the prime property in the year 1979.
After this incident D’Souza decided to do land filling and convert the area into an integrated farm where currently he grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables ranging from rambutan to velvet apples to avocados and graviola. “You will find papaya, pineapple, velvet apple, chinook, rambutan, custard apple, avocado, love apple, six varieties of bananas, passion fruit, star fruit, sour sop, jackfruit, cocum , jambul, guava, peanut fruit, cherries, limes, pomelo, boram, jagoma, cacao, mangostin, egg fruit, nutmeg, pepper, Adams apple, bottle gourd, lady fingers, graviola, here. I do prepare wines for my consumption and even serves my close friends and relatives,” informs D’souza who is also a brew master.
Recalling his initial days, D’Souza adds that, he joined United Breweries as chemist and was promoted to quality manager. But somewhere he wanted to fulfill his desire for agricultural activities. His passion drove him into cultivation including rearing of goats and poultry farming. “I am fond of fishes and here you can find fresh water fish in abundance. I have rohu, cutla and tilapia” he says, pointing towards pond.
He also shares the variety of fish the pond contains which reveals his deep knowledge in pisciculture. Describing his new business of rearing of goats, D’Souza says that his farm at present has various breed of goats for sale ranging in price from Rs 8000 to Rs 30,000. “I had invested money on this new business and got high breed variety of goats including Usmanabadi, Shirohi, Sojat and African Boer and to do rotation of this investment I also involve myself in local breed poultry,” he mentions. With Bakr-Eid is approaching D’Souza hopes for good business this time and has more than 50 high breed goats in the farm which are to be sold.
D’Souza was by far the biggest contributor to the biodiversity at the Konkan Fruit Fest 2013 and 2014 at Margao and bagged prizes. He was adjudged best farmer of Salcete taluka for the year 2008-2009 by the directorate of agriculture. He was recipient of awards at the Konkan Fruit Festival from the year 2013-18 and Krishi Bhushan in recognition of meritorious contribution and unstinted efforts for promotion of cause of agriculture rendered during 2015-2016. He bagged Trinity’s Goan Hospitality award of notable achievement 2016 in the category of best home-made wines.
Sharing his family life, D’Souza says, “Kevin, my younger boy who is at presently in UK is coming down to take over the farm. While elder son Owen, is an executive chef on Holland America Lines, a cruise vessel. He too will settle in Goa after a few years. I will offer them the platform and plan to take up this farming activity into ecotourism”. He was very enthusiast in passing this knowledge to younger generation. “School and college students often visit to my farm. It gives me pleasure to pass on my knowledge in medicinal plants. I will be now naming all the plants so that whoever visits they can acquire the information about these plants” says D’Souza.
He further urges youngsters to cultivate a passion for growing something. “Once there is a passion to grow something the rest will automatically follow,” he says while adding that the government needs to support the youth and frame policy to provide subsidy for labour which he claims is very costly in Goa.