Thursday , 24 October 2019
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Growing Green and Organic

Miguel Braganza

The 28th edition of the ‘Festival of Plants and Flowers’ last weekend saw the participation of students of 14 high schools and six higher secondary schools display high quality projects on ‘Biodiversity’ and ‘Composting’ with a fresh selection of vegetables and fruits as also of earthworms and composting stations. There is hope on the horizon: the farmers of Goa have been able to grow green chillies in surplus of the state’s daily requirement, the first batch of students have graduated from the first college of agriculture that was set up in Goa four years ago and a number of farmers’ markets are mushrooming to boost urban vegetable cultivation. More and more people are beginning to realise that the most important part of being organic is to grow and eat.

That a school has been able to sustain a plant festival for 28 years is indeed commendable and the award it received at the hands of the Governor of Goa last year was definitely
well deserved.

Poison-free vegetables are an important consideration when thinking of healthy food for oneself or one’s family, especially the children whom we have unknowingly poisoned all these years with sub-lethal doses of insecticides. Now that we know that the insecticides and herbicides like organo-phosphorus compounds cause cancer and a host of other illnesses, we should not have to live with the guilt of knowingly causing sickness to our loved ones by forced-feeding them poison-laced vegetables while exporting certified ‘organic’ vegetables and pulses to Europe and America.

After all is said and done, ‘education’ developed by corporate-supported western universities, agriculture scientists and extension officers (me included) have been a part of the hard-sell for the agro chemicals that the European countries have long banned in their countries of origin and across the ‘developed’ world. It is for this reason that we incorporated the organic practices in the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) syllabus adapted for Goa.

Traditional farmers have grown cucumbers, muskmelon, pumpkins, gourds, ladyfinger and dioscorea air-potatoes organically on the hillsides from Satari to Canacona. Shouldn’t educated people living in the cities be able to grow their own vegetables, green chillies and coriander? Over the last few years we have shown the people of Goa how all these can be grown – and grown organically right down to sea level at Calangute and Candolim or on rocky plateau at the International Centre Goa, near Goa University. The Directorate of Agriculture and its Zonal Agriculture Offices across Goa are getting converted to organic, thanks to the Paramparagat Krishi Yojana or PKY.

The conversion from industrial or chemical agriculture to organic agriculture is not merely a replacement of synthetic insecticides and fertilisers with natural ones, it is actually a complete ‘conversion’ of one’s set of beliefs.

The philosophy changes from profit maximisation at all costs to counting the cost of making the profit on other people, animals, birds, bees and even microbes in the environment.

A little bit of gardening by many people means a lot of gardening in a village or a city. Just do your bit for yourself. It helps in the national
mission.

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