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Farming on its last leg in Chinchinim

Margao: It appears that farming in Chinchinim is on its last leg as hundreds of farmers have given up raising paddy crop due to rising costs of fertilisers,   pesticides and labourers.

Despite the availability of nearly 170 MLD of irrigation water in non-monsoon season in Chinchinim, thousands of hectares of agriculture land remains uncultivated. 

Moreover, the government provides schemes and subsidies for mechanised farming. But there are a few takers from the village to the schemes.

The farming potential has been highlighted by a survey conducted by the water resources department, which says that there are seven large water bodies covering around 63,000 square metre with a water holding capacity of 170 MLD.

However, the villagers are not keen on continuing with farming. 

The decline in the number of farmers availing the irrigation schemes has resulted in the Santmoddi bandh becoming non-operational. The other water bodies in the village could also meet the same fate.

Highly placed sources said that there are nearly 2000 agriculture tenants with the comunidade. There were several other private landholdings which were earlier cultivated by local unregistered tenants.

However, the cultivable land remains fallow, flying in the face of government’s push on the farming.

Deputy sarpanch Valentino Baretto said that most of the village farmers have given up farming, and that whatever the land still cultivated is done so by farmers from outside the village. 

Baretto attributed the decline in farming to the rising labour cost and disinterest of the youth to take up the traditional occupation. 

In the past, the farmers used to raise paddy crop, which would give a bountiful harvest. But now this original variety of paddy is no longer raised. 

The government has come out with a lot of schemes without focussing on retaining the paddy variety that gave good ‘pik’.

A former farmer V Fernandes said that they were dependent on the fields, and that there was plenty of water throughout the year.

“Now farmhands are not easily available. The rising cost has made agriculture unviable. Moreover the children are no longer interested in farming. They want to go abroad. So I had to let go,” he explained.

Another farmer complained that government’s schemes do not reach them as they do not have the documents required to avail of the schemes.

The rising costs as regards fertilisers, pesticides and labourers have forced hundreds of farmers to abandon farming, the farmer said.  

Sources in the agriculture department maintained that the government has been pulling out all the stops to persuade the farmers to return to agriculture. Various schemes and subsidies are provided to the farmers taking up mechanised farming.

However, the farmers rued that there is no subsidy for engaging labourers, adding that it is not possible for many farmers to opt for mechanised farming as the fields are landlocked.

Officials from the water resource department said the government can work towards maintenance of the water bodies if farmers are ready to take up farming again and avail the schemes.

However, if they show disinclination towards farming then there is no justification for spending crore of rupees for maintaining the water bodies, the officials argued. 

The water bodies play a vital role and act as storage tanks, recharging   groundwater in the village which eventually act as feeders to the wells, the officials explained.

The survey has said that there are as many as 272 wells in the village, of which 244 are in use.

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