Progressive farmer Minguelin D’Costa in Sanguem is reaping bounty from agriculture. His two farms are in profits and fetching handsome returns, finds out Sameer Subhash BhattGoa environment is conducive to agriculture. In fact Goa is agriculture land and the earliest economic occupation in the state is that of farming. Hinterland taluka of Sanguem was once the heart belt of agricultural activities with several families in the region earning bread and butter through cultivation. But mining ruined things as in the lust for money several farmers sold their land to mine owners.
Thanks to widespread iron ore mining agriculture is alarmingly down in Sanguem today. However the few farsighted persons who preserved their land for cultivation are not repenting. They are happy at their choice of occupation. One such person is Minguelin D’Costa who probably is the largest farmer in Sanguem.
D’Costa leads a busy life growing and harvesting cash crops and fruits. His residence is opposite to the forestry guest house while his two farms are located in interior regions. They cover a total area of three lakh sq mtr area. The larger Bharat Farm (two lakh sq mtr) is at Chudyen Ugem whereas the smaller and new Devodita Farm is of one lakh sq mtr and in adjoining area.
A progressive farmer D’Costa is primarily into horticulture crops such as areca nut, coconut, banana, mango, cashew and pepper. The Bharat Farm alone has 7,000 areca trees, 1200 coconut trees, 200 mango grafts and pineapple plants. Besides pepper creepers are grown on the areca nut and mango trees. The Devodita Farm is primarily for cashew grafts. The grafts were planted in March 2014 but they have grown well and look like five year old trees, says D’Costa proudly. The cashew trees are flowering but flowers have been cut to encourage branching.
There is big demand for pepper in the market and it is selling at average Rs 800 per kilo by farmers. This year cashew nuts have also fetched good price at Rs 100 or more per kilo. With good yield the frams are earnings income of about Rs 30 lakhs per month. After deducting expenses on account of labour, raw material, fertilizer, power, etc., the profits are decent enough to keep him motivated, reveals D’Costa.
D’Costa’s family background is of farming as his parents were cultivators of paddy. But when he took up the traditional occupation he decided to get into sugarcane cultivation. For about 22 years he was in sugarcane before venturing into horticulture.
Agriculture is profitable and rewarding which is why his two educated young sons Schubert D’Costa and Savio D’Costa are also working shoulder to shoulder with their father. They did not run after white collar jobs because he is taught them dignity of labour.
Farming is definitely satisfying but youth are moving away from it due to various reasons. The obvious reason is of course love of easy money and disinclination for hard work. But deeper reasons are the uncertainties of production because yield is totally weather dependent. Pest attack is another risk although it can be offset by having multiple crops, says D’Costa.
For instance in pepper the output was usually of 11-12 quintals annually. But a persistent pest attack brought down the yield by 75 per cent. Therefore pepper had to be stopped for about three years before restated again.
The other problem faced by farmers is of marketing and even though he sells to Bagayatdar overall there are several problems related to sales. Fruits have to be sold in the open market to traders who give a pittance for the produce. In case of mango the price is as low as Rs 12-15 per fruit and similarly banana are fetches low rate of Rs 30 per kg from traders. To address the issue D’Costa is opening a shop in the market and will be selling directly to customers.
His farms do not lack irrigation and two pumps from the river that runs throughout villages ensure continuous water supply. Non availability of labour is hindrance to agriculture in Goa however local hands are available in villages of Sanguem and therefore he is better placed for labour, says D’Costa. Sometimes he has to employ labour from border areas to help in the harvesting.
He is also started a dairy recently and it is got six cows that give milk and provide manure for the land. I would have earned excessive money if I had to opt for mining but I kept myself away from the lure, he says adding that horticulture is permanent. It gives both, money and mental satisfaction. It also helps in providing employment to locals.
A traditional and progressive farmer D’Costa is on his farms from 7 am- 7.30 pm each day. It is a full time job that is 365 days of the year. Rainy season means no irrigation but other work of cleaning, cutting, checking for pests continues. D’Costa is community oriented and freely interacts with other farmers of Sanguem. Each shares his problem and this way we provide support to one another, he says.
He is also given guidance to several youths regarding agriculture and is taken optimum benefit of government schemes. Although youth have moved away from agriculture the time is not yet gone, he says. And instead of waiting for mining to commence they should turn to agriculture and horticulture. It will make them self reliant and contribute in the progress of the state and country at large.
Several youths in his locality purchased trucks by availing bank loans or hypothecating their properties and even houses. Some earned crores through mining but they did not imagine that activities would stop so suddenly. He is hopeful that people have learnt a lesson and return back to agriculture.