Farmers by choice

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Educated and with professional qualifications, Nita Joshi and her son Vithal Joshi in Valpoi are among the few Goans who have taken to farming and growing organic vegetables, finds out Abdulla Khan

Bathed in abundant sunlight and blooming with an array of colours, the Shrusti Farm in the midst of lush greenery is spread across 22 acre at Nagargao, Sattari.

There, Nita Joshi and her son Vithal Joshi grow all types of locally grown vegetables like radish ,spinach, lady fingers, cucumbers, etc. using organic methods of cultivation. What is unusual about the mother and son is their non-traditional background. Nita Joshi is a BPharm graduate, while son Vithal Joshi is an M.Tech in civil engineering. 

Nita Joshi a progressive farmer says that her liking towards agriculture activities pushed her to take up organic farming. She added that numerous initiatives by the state government to take up organic farming in the state also encouraged her towards cultivation.

After marriage Nita was staying at her in-laws place in Gawane village of Sattari taluka and from where she was going to her workplace at Ponda. But due to the difficulties in commuting due to poor public transport she decided to quit her job. While her batch mates were busy finding jobs in pharma companies, Nita preferred to take her chance in agriculture activity.

“It was not new for me because I come from the same environment as my parents too are involved in farming activities. Sometimes you need to take up new things and adjust yourself and adapt to new things. So here I am happily working at our farm land fulfilling my childhood hobby,” explains Joshi.

She adds that the farm is also open to tourists. Sattari is now emerging as a hot destination for hinterland tourism and Shrusti Farm offers a complete package of stay with homemade tasty food (cooked by Nita) within lush greenery and the concept of horticulture to add novelty to visitors.

It took the Joshi family nearly 10 years to develop the farm where they planted cashew crop, mangoes, coconut and banana plantation. Initially they also cultivated paddy and Ragi but due to vermin and wild animals the crops were damaged and they had to bear the loss.

“To create awareness on healthy eating habits and make organic food accessible to all, my son and I took organic farming,” Joshi said when asked how suddenly they thought of organic farming in their property.

Meanwhile, the entire property is surrounded by coconut trees and cashew plantation. “When asked why both professionally educated mother and son started farming activity in their farm, she said, “Honestly, both of us like doing farming but since my son is busy with his construction work, I manage mostly and he always loves to work on the farm whenever he is at home.” 

Both mother and son had taken around 1000sqm of land for doing horticulture and have successfully reaped leafy vegetables which are fresh and organically produced.

“It is not only good business but a way to ensure that people were eating chemical-free food. People who visit our farm, especially youth, do help us and liking towards farming activity can be noticed in them,” says Nita who also takes pre-order for desi ghee ladoos.

The marketing of the produce is handled by Vithal Joshi who travels 6-kilometres at Valpoi and distributes to their outlet located near Unity School and also to nearby vegetable vendors.

When asked how feasible is horticulture activity in Sattari, she says “While the results are good, I realized very early on that it wouldn’t be viable. Labour cost and transportation is a little expensive. Besides, people preferred quantity over quality, without realizing that these greens are  chemical-free.”

However she is optimistic that if the government under initiatives of the ‘Swayampurna Goa’ programme will provide help to budding farmers to encourage small farmers on a large scale.