We just finished celebrating World Environment Day in the United Nations-designated International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) 2021. The good news is that Truthfully Labelled (TL) vegetable seeds are now produced and packed by the Farmers’ Science Centre or Krishi Vigyan Kendra of ICAR-CCARI at Ela Farm, Old Goa. In just 15 months that he was posted in Goa, my classmate at the Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) course and now principal scientist and head of KVK-North Goa, BL Kasinath set up a seed processing and packing unit. It is the first of its kind in Goa.
The moment it begins raining, the people of Goa think of plants. Ladyfingers, okra, or bhendi (Abelmoschus esculenta) is a hot favourite. Kasinath tried various varieties at KVK-North in 2020 and selected Arka Anamika as the most promising. Earlier known as Selection-8, this variety is from IIHR-Bengaluru and has been grown in Goa from the late 1980s when I was doing research there while in the Goa Government service. On my return to Goa, this variety was included in the vegetable kits subsidised under a Government of India scheme that became very popular in Goa. It is not as good as the local ‘sath xiramcho bhendo’ but it is largely tolerant to the Bhendi Yellow Vein Mosaic Disease (BYVMD). More work in the local selections for resistance breeding needs to be done.
The Goa brinjal-1 and brinjal-2 have been found to be good and are of the popular local land races. These seeds have been multiplied and packed for sale at KVK-North Goa. Cluster beans (tidki) grow well in the monsoons and it also fixes nitrogen in the soil. The Thar Bhadvi variety has been chosen over the popular Pusa Nav Bahar or PNB. Radish grows well during the monsoons, too, and the popular Pusa Chetaki has been packed as well. Arka Suryamukhi is a high yielding pumpkin variety from IIHR that is now available in Goa. Each of the seed packets is priced at `50 and the quantity of seed varies depending on their price per kilogram. A box containing five vegetable seed packets, namely, bhendi (50 grams), brinjal (9 grams), cowpea (30 grams), coriander (30 grams) and radish (30 grams) is priced at `200 instead of `250 that it would cost if purchased individually. Cluster beans (30 grams) can be bought for `50 extra. For larger farms, seeds are available by the kilo.
The Agricos Alumni Association, Goa, is doing a wonderful series of webinars on agriculture every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a Q&A session at the end plus answers to queries in the chat box while the presentations are on. The presenters have five to six years of exposure to organic agriculture and most of them are passionate about growing plants. Serving and recently retired agriculture officers right up to former deputy director have presented in the webinars that are backed by students of Biotechnology at the Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar and professionals in agriculture. The webinars are open to the public. Join in and grow your vegetables better this monsoon season.