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Reaping rich harvest in mining land

Resident of Tatodi, Dharbandora, Nagesh Samant resisted the lure of mining. Today he with son Varadh Samant are progressive farmers and earn satisfactorily from farming, reports Nirgosh Gaude

Deep in the mining belt in the Tatodi area of Dharbandora taluka, father and son, Nagesh Samant and Varadh Samant are known today as among the few progressive farmers of the state. The duo practice experimental farming and focus on high yielding horticulture crops.

At one time they were being pressurised to sell off their land to the mining industry. Now the father and son team are happy for retaining ownership of their land. They claim that, they are earning more than the offer given by the mining companies for their land.   

Nagesh Samant says that, his land measures around 12 acres and is surrounded by mining pits from all sides. His family land is under mining lease area. Despite being under pressure from the mining lobby to sell off the land he refused all offers and resisted from succumbing.

“It is our ancestral land and we wanted to retain it for our family only. As we know once we sell off land we can never hope to get it back easily even if we have a lot of money.  Knowing the odds we fought to retain our land for farming only and have succeeded effectively,” says Samant.

Earlier his ancestors would cultivate paddy in the fields. But as the mining industry in surrounding area started booming, all the paddy fields started dying. Some died due to shortage of water, while some got polluted due mining activities. “With that most agriculture activities came to stand still in these areas. In that time, mining companies tried their best to purchase the land from us and even forced legal battles on us. But we managed to win that and after keeping the land barre for some years, my son and I decided to revive farming,” he reveals.

Initially in 2003, the father and son team started with sugarcane cultivation as it was considered as cash crop and farmers earned good income from the crop. They tried it for years and even harvested 60 ton of sugarcane per season.  But with the long process of sugarcane farming and efforts required for cultivation they decided to experiment with horticulture crops.

They decided to experiment and make use of advanced technology.  In 2016-17 they planted carrot in 500 sq. meters of land and managed to produce around two tons of the vegetable.  Encouraged by the results next year they cultivated around two acres of land and harvested 15 tons of carrot.

“With assured price scheme and assured marketing of the produce by the state horticulture corporation, our vegetable farming business got off to good start and we decided to experiment in it by growing more profitable crops. The focus of activities shifted to horticulture,’ says Varadh Samant.

They attended various farming programs in neighbouring states and also did research on various crops and decided to go for chilli cultivation by using Sitara variety in 2017-18. The farm produced around 33 tons of chillies and sold it to the Goa State Horticulture Corporation under assured price scheme.  Along with that Bhindi was also grown albeit on small scale to check whether cultivation is feasible on a larger scale.

Recently the father and son experimented water melons, It was so successful that customers started visiting the farm just to eat fresh water melons. “During the initial days of water melon farming, we failed to sell the produce as we had no idea of marketing.  Some local sellers started demanding the water melon for just Rs 3 per kg. But it was so low rate that we could not even get what we had investigated. So we ready to give our water melons for free, rather than selling. But one fine day, I made one of my labourer sit outside the farm to sell the water melon for just Rs 10 each. To my surprise on the first day he sold around 150 kg and sales increased the next day. With such great response, we sold our produce to Goa Bagayatdar and got great success,” says Nagesh Samant .

They sold around 30 tons of melon in two months @ Rs 15 per kg and recovered more than what they had invested.  “Customers loved the taste of the melons which was the local variety. They gave mouth- to- word publicity,” adds Varadh.  

This season they cultivated green chillies and Bhindi on large scale and are overwhelmed with the produce.  They have cultivated variety of chillies and harvesting around three tons of it per day. So far they sold 60 ton of chilli to the horticulture department @ Rs 45 per kg.

In Bhindi they have cultivated Radhika variety and presently harvested around 600 pieces per day. As the days go, the expectation is of one ton produce per day. 

“Last year we had cultivated Jaikishan variety and this year opted for Rahhika, which is far better and high yielding.  We recommend this variety of Bhindi to the all farmers in the state as it is high resistance to pests, good for harvesting and also high yielding,’ is their collective opinion.

Nagesh Komarpant, zonal agriculture officer who often guides Samant and his son is happy with the progress. He says, “Though the father and son are of different generation they work in harmony and using advanced technology. Presently for Chilli and Bhendi farming they are using drip irrigation system, mulching of soil, tarkati system for keeping the crop straight, pesticide spraying through STP pumps and have power tiller and mini tractors.”

According to Komarpant, the habit of continuously experimenting and trying new things is resulting in good yields. “Both have  emerged as progressive farmers in very short time.  Their Chilli production of this season is almost highest produced by any individual famer in the state.. Even their Bendi yield will come out as great success, which they have just started harvesting,” said Komarpant.

In future the plan is to try with tomatoes cultivation in the winter season followed by watermelons again on a larger scale. “We want to continue with horticulture as it is more profitable than other crops,” say  the senior and junior Samant’s.

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