NP Singh the former director of ICAR- CCARI, Goa, had interesting observations to make on the government’s ambitious plan of doubling farmers income by 2022, reports Shoma Patnaik
“Doubling of farmers income by 2022 is easy to say but likely to be difficult to achieve,” according to NP Singh, the former Goa director of ICAR- Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute (CCARI).
Singh who was a special invitee at a national spices seminar in old Goa organised by ICAR-CCARI, said that, farmers are concerned over the cost of cultivation and marketing. “Minimizing the cost of production and providing farmers with ready market are the challenges before the programme,” he said.
The doubling of farmer income project has the ambitious target of transforming agriculture across all states. The former director of ICAR, Goa, who continues to be held in respect in the agriculture sector, remarked that, the project is not an easy task owing to the challenges it faces.
“Farmers lack the resources and unless they are provided with the resources they cannot participate in the government’s programme,” he said, adding that, another hurdle to the project is from climate change.
“Climate change poses a roadblock. There is going to be droughts and excessive rainfall. The impact of climate change on agriculture will affect the farmer, government, politicians and everyone. The recent onion crisis is an example of the challenge from climate change,” said Singh.
The former director of ICAR, who post retirement worked with the Maharashtra government in doubling of farmer income project, pointed out that, scientists have to play an important role in identifying the varieties to fight the climate change problem.
Singh said that, more than doubling of income by 2022, Indian farmers would be happy if the government ensures continuous income throughout the year. He said that, shortage of planting material is also a problem faced by farmers and it could be another reason for the doubling project going off-track.
The national spices seminar hosted by ICAR- CCARI, Old Goa and the Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development, Kozhikode, focused on emerging trends in production, processing and marketing. Singh pointed out that, several positive changes had come about in Goan agriculture over the years. Farmers in the state are comparatively better off in terms of market as they sell to Goa Bagayatdar which buys, processes and later supplies to the market, he said. However, planting material is a big issue.
“Every Goan loves to talk about Mancurad mango but provding 100 planting material of Mancurad is very difficult,” said Singh who experimented with Mancurad and planted it in Baramati where the trees produced “excellent quality of the fruit.”
According to the ICAR-Goa ex-director, the Goan system of kulagar is beneficial for farming as it results in “blending.” In kulagar the local farmer grows coconut, areca nut, spices (as intercrop) and does a bit of dairy farming fruit and keeps poultry. It is an integrated approach which needs to be replicated for doubling the farmer income, he said. Post retirement, Singh is back in Goa and plans on setting up a planting material farm.
The national seminar of spices revealed that, Goa’s contribution at the national level is meager as spices are grown as an inter-crop. Seminar participants said that, Goan farmers need to step up spice production owing to its high value and take up production on commercial scale. “Spice cultivation in Goa remains set in two-three produce such as pepper and areca nut,” pointed
The other issues that, that seminar addressed was of food safety. Like other agricultural produce, the export of spices is constrained due to the presence of pesticide residue.