It takes two to get greener yields

November 01, 2022 | 05:21 IST

It takes two to get greener yields

Young couples from Goa venture into agriculture and show a new side of the traditional profession. From vegetable museums, orchid farms to starting a new desi milk brand in Goa, these couples are experimenting and inventing formulas for successful green farms that are also educational for schools and students

Dolcy D’Cruz

Regardless of the educational qualifications of these couples, they share a love of intelligent and effective collaboration for an ecological way of life. Farming in Goa with diverse backgrounds is getting a modern twist as more young blood actively participates in improving the yield and taking traditional farming to another level.

In Hasapur, Pernem, Chaitanya Malik and Sawani Shetye Malik Dr. Malik’s farm together with Dr. Bhiva Malik, Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department at PES College, who just retired yesterday, October 31. While Chaitanya was still in his final year as an engineer at Goa Engineering College, Ponda, he had focused on agriculture and started paperwork and research on the country’s terrain. Using his ancestral land in Haspur, he started small in 2014 by growing a small plot of land with English vegetables such as lettuce, iceberg and broccoli in a greenhouse. He also brought three Gir cows from Gujarat and over the years the number has increased to 30 cows.

Chaitanya’s wife, Sawani Shetye Malik, is an archaeologist and shares the same passion as her husband. They share their responsibilities wonderfully. “This is a first generation farm and is two acres divided by the village road. We have used one side for the cowshed and the other side is a valley used for growing various fruit trees and vegetables. dr Bhiva has a PhD in organic chemistry and it is his dream to return to agriculture which encouraged Chaitanya to develop this ancestral land. He even made an effort to live with farmers in Gujarat and Maharastra to understand the care and requirements of Gir cows and various plantation techniques. He has added his own innovations to traditional farming,” says Sawani.

The Gir cows produce Desi milk that is unpasteurized, packaged and sold direct door-to-door from Pernem to Old Goa. “We started selling the A2 milk variety in 2016, which contains no preservatives and is also branded as A2 milk. The shed is also a modern shed with an automatic water system. The troughs are automatically refilled to the level corresponding to gravity. We wanted the animals to be comfortable with visitors to the farm as well,” adds Sawani.

Besides the cows, the farm also has a vertical garden with vegetables such as bottle gourd (konkan duddi), ivy gourd (tendli), bitter gourd (karela), comb gourd (gosalle) and cucumbers. Seasonal vegetables to be grown from this month include spinach, chili peppers, ladyfingers, radishes and red spinach (tambdi bhaji). They’ve recently added fruiting trees like jamun, mangoes, avocados, jackfruit, and pineapples. “Farming is a risk-based business. It depends on the climate and there is no certainty as bison, peacocks or monkeys can destroy crops. It can bring a sustainable income if made educational and entertaining. People who live in the cities like to bring their children to show how plants are grown. There is a natural spring on the property where the water collects in a large freshwater pool. We created the place where every family can have fun and learn from,” says Sawani.

Gautam Kamat, a progressive farmer from Agas-Khola village in Canacona, adopted 1,500 square meters of land where he used to grow G-4 and Nisha chillies in his garden using plastic mulches, a new technique in agriculture. After his 12th grade he completed a horticulture course and became actively involved in growing vegetables, rice, coconut, areca nut and cashew. Together with his wife Pradnya, an arts graduate, they are now concentrating on Sonia orchids, which they supply throughout Goa as well as other states of India.

Gautam was awarded Krishi Bhushan Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for his efforts in agriculture. “The orchid farm is a 3500 square meter greenhouse and we sell the flowers to different places in India. The first orchid plants for the farm arrived on our wedding anniversary in 2017 which made it even more special for us. Before venturing into orchid cultivation, Gautam visited various plantations in Pune. Orchids need special care and routine pesticides and fertilizers. We have suffered a tremendous loss during the pandemic as so many flowers have been wasted. We could not transport the flowers and there were no events in Goa either. There were many orchid farms in Canacona itself that were closed because of the losses,” says Pradnya, who is often seen at her husband’s side as he packs the orchids for shipment.

Another agricultural award-winning duo to receive the Krishi Ratna Prize this year is Vandit from Mollem with his wife Priyanka Naik. With Rajendra, Vandit’s father by their side, they run RasRaj Farms in Ponda. Although the land has been cultivated for the last decade, the 2000 square meter farm has been developed into a cowshed, beekeeping, fruit and vegetable museum in the last two years since Vandit and Priyanka’s marriage. Both Agricultural Sciences graduates from Don Bosco College of Agriculture, Sulcorna, Vandit is also President of the Beekeeping Society of Goa. Her farm produces 80 kg of honey for five cases a year. The farm is named as Rasraj Goa Farms after Vandit’s parents Rajendra and Rasita.

With in-depth knowledge of the soil and plants, both have made advances in agriculture, surrounded by vegetables, coconut, beca nut, bananas, and have now progressed to fruits such as rambuttan, grapefruit, guavas and chicoos. “The correct use of cow manure for worm composting offers the farm additional income in addition to reducing the pest problem. RasRaj’s Bio-Infused Vermicompost is superior to other competing brands because it not only consists of earthworm cast, but also contains beneficial microorganisms that prevent soil-borne diseases, dissolves soil minerals, and also acts as an excellent soil conditioner,” Priyanka says of the unique formula they use for Vermicompost and which is available from their shop in Patto, Panjim.

While they both live on the farm, they share the workload, alternating between marketing, work management and adding inputs to their work system. The husband and wife couple also submitted two separate research papers on “Panchagavya”, a decoction made using three direct cow products, cow manure, cow urine, cow milk and two derivatives, namely curd and desi-ghee, and for which it modified for agricultural purposes by adding other ingredients such as coconut water and bananas.

“We want to educate more people, especially students, through the various initiatives on the farm. Over the past two months, over 20 schools from all over Goa have visited the farm. We are also planning an extension with Farm Stay Cottages which should be ready by December. This region is close to the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary so the impact of flora and fauna through honey production is visible. The color of honey changes depending on biodiversity. We have also developed two formulas based on Goa soil for mango and coconut palms, ideally to be used during the months of August to October for best results.”

says Priyanka.

It is very encouraging to see young people using the unconventional methods to bring new ideas to the age-old tradition of farming and bringing so many more factors and branches of production into being, which can be a learning experience for people from all walks of life.


Comments are closed.