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AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Scenario in Goa

The staple produce of Goa is Rice (Oriza Sativa) followed by coconut trees (Cocoa Nucifera) which accounts for variety of uses to which their products are applied. They grow abundantly in groves all along the coastal stretch of the state, at many places interspersed with horticultural plantations. Hilly places and inferior soils are used for cultivation of cereals and pulses as Nachne (Eleusine coracanal, Urid (Phaseolus radiatus), Culit (Dolichus uniflorus),Orio (Panicum miliaceum), Mug (Phaseolus mungo, and Tori (Cajanus indicus); or fruit trees, the most important of which are the mango (Mangifera indica), the jackfruit (Artocarpus integrifolia), the Cashew (Anacardium occidentale), and the Banana (Musa paradisiacal); of oil and fibrous plants, as Till (Sesamum indicum), Son (Crotolaria juncea); and of various kinds of vegetables, as Potatoes (Convolvulus batatas), Radishes (Raphanus sativus), Yams (Dioscrea sativa), Ladyfingers (Abelmoschus esculentus), Melons (Cucumis melo), watermelons (Cucurbita citrillus), cucumbers (Cucumis sativus), pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo), bottle gourds (Cucurbita lagenaria), and Snake gourds (Trichosanthes anguina). Besides these, Chillies (Capsicum frutescens), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Onions (Allium Cepa), and certain vegetables of daily consumption are extensively cultivated in some villages.

Over the last few decades, although agriculture in Goa is in a state of steady decline, it is one of the dominant economic activities of the state. As per the government estimates for 2001-2002, out of the total reporting area of 36.11 lakh hectares, 13.93 lakh hectares of the area is sown. Further, as per the Economic Survey 2001 conducted by the state Government contribution of agriculture alongwith livestock to the net domestic product (ndp) of the state is only 15%. Such a decline from primary sector is attributed to static agricultural production, decline in fish catch, falling output from forest sector etc. Goa is heavily depending on neighboring states for food grains, cereals, vegetables, milk etc. The Salaulim dam provides irrigation to a command area of 11,749 hectares in south Goa. Anjunem irrigation project provides irrigation facilities to 2100 hectares. The Tillari dam, under construction, which is as a joint venture between the state of Goa and the State of Maharashtra is expected to irrigate 16,978 hectares of land in North Goa.

Major Plantation Crops

Cashew

Cashew is one of the largest plantation crops in Goa. They are grown on hilly sides, mixed with other vegetation or scattered on open pastures. The largest size is reported from Sattari, Bicholim and Bardez talukas. Cashew was introduced in Goa by the Portuguese during 16th Century basically as a soil conservation crop. Today a total of 44,520 hectares (28%) of the total crop area is under cashew plantation. About 10 lakh litres of cashew feni are produced annually which fetches the State of Goa around Rs. 80 - 90 lakhs / year.

Coconut

The second major plantation crop in Goa is the coconut. Most families in Goan villages rear coconut trees. The staple diet of Goans being Fish Curry & Rice, coconut curries are an essential ingredient of the daily diet and Goans are generally incapable of making curries without the use of coconut. Most sweets in Goa are generally made out of a mixture of rice and coconut. The other element of the coconut tree is that the toddy is used in the production of jaggery and vinegar as well as in the manufacture of feni, another variety of liquor.
Coconut is one of the nature's wonder trees and is responsible for a sustained generation of a varied number of biodegradable products, still largely used in the villages. Besides oil and oilcakes, which are fed to the animals, the trees produce fibres for ropes and matting. Coconut tree trunk is used to make rafters for roofs. Leaves both dry and green are used for making baskets and thatches to protect Goan homes, particularly windows and balcaos during heavy monsoon. The ribs of the leaves are used to produce brooms.

Arecanut

The area under arecanut is around 2000 hectares and almost half of it is in Ponda Taluka. The areca palm is much more delicate than the coconut tree. It requires abundant irrigation during the hot summer months and could therefore be beneficially cultivated in kulagars. Areca is basically a shade loving tree and grows best in the company of other fruit bearing trees.

Other plantations

Other plantation crops grown in Goa are the bamboo, the banana and mango. Bhirand / kokum is also an important plantation crop which forms a part of daily diet. It is used as a garnish to give an acidic taste to curries and vegetable as well as in the preparation of cooling kokum syrup during the hot summer months.

Toddy Tappers

The toddy tapping community is one of the major occupational groups in Goa. It secures its livelihood by tapping toddy from coconut trees, distilling into liquor known as feni and selling it to the public. The toddy is collected twice or thrice daily from the tree and is distilled later. Distilling involves a shed on distillery locally known as 'batti' using certain typical vessels for distilling.

There are nearly 6000 tappers in the state at present. Tapping the unopened flower bunch (spadix) of the palm for the extraction of toddy is a common practice in most parts where coconut is cultivated. Tapping in Goa is normally done by slicing of the apex of the unopened spadix gradually and beating it with a tapping rod everyday to rupture the cells and induce the flow of the sap or juice. It is usual to tap successive infloresence in a tree for about 6 months. Trees which yield a large number of nuts also yield a large quantity of juice. Tapping is found to improve the yield of nuts of poor bearing palms. The juice can be converted into sweet or fermented toddy. Vinegar, jaggery or sugar or arrack can also be made from the juice.

Kumeri Cultivation

In Goa, shifting cultivation is locally known as 'Kumeri' and it is this form of agriculture that is largely responsible for producing Goa's output of nachne, other millets and pulses. However, agriculturally trained farmers, scientists or foresters condemn kumeri cultivation as ecologically damaging and sustained effort have been made by the forest and Agriculture department to discontinue such cultivation.

There are basically 5 stages in Kumeri cultivation. Felling an area of forests, fixing the dead vegetation, planting or sowing seeds without the plough, weeding; and eventually harvesting. Though virgin forests give higher yields, kumeri cultivation prefers a secondary forest for cultivation. This is because clearing primary forest is quite an dangerous task, requiring more manpower and demanding a larger drying period for the felled vegetation.

In Goa, Kumeri cultivation became a problem for 2 reasons. First, during Portuguese regime, large chunk of hilly areas have been declared as forests and later by the Goa government thus reducing drastically the Kumeri cycles of the tribals. Secondly forest Department cleared felled forest with in the non-protected areas and converted these to monoculture species of eucalyptus and teak, thereby affecting forest availability to Kumeri cultivation. The elimination of Kumeri cultivation has led to a drastic decline in the availability of millets like nachne which have remained the traditional diet of the economically unprivileged population in Goa.

Awadhis of Madkai

In Goa, Madkai village in Ponda Taluka of North Goa district has a peculiar feature as far as agricultural practice is concerned. The history of these mud heaps, locally known as Awadhi, does not go beyong 80-90 years.
The interpretation of local farmers is that inputs like cow dung and dry fish manure when used in bulk create an imbalance in the water-field level. To regain the earlier level, excess soil has to be removed. As such, every year some excess soil is removed bringing this field on par with the water level (tank/stream). This flattered tops of Awadhi's are utilized to grow vegetables and bananas. However, Awadhi's has proved to be uneconomical for farmers as it has consumed a major part of their paddy fields.