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‘Community farming can help bring fallow land under cultivation’

Panaji: Agriculture Minister Vijay Sardesai on Tuesday said that Goa presently has altogether 13,193 hectares of fallow land and it should be the endeavour of the department of agriculture to reduce this land by at least 3,000 hectares, in a year’s time, by bringing this land under cultivation, preferably through community farming.

The Agriculture Minister also said that maximum agricultural reforms have taken place in Goa. However, the question is whether they are being seen on ground. “Some agricultural schemes are heavily subsidised, yet fallow lands are increasing due to various social factors,” he lamented.

Sardesai, who earlier released a survey report on fallow lands in Goa titled, ‘Agricultural Land Use Planning of Goa State’, at Krishi Bhavan, said that the follow-up of the particular survey report should be the study of microclimate in Goa, with area-specific details of the state covering aspects like rainfall, temperature, terrain and so on.

“This will further provide us with details as to whether an agro hub or a horti hub is to be adopted by us,” he stated, maintaining that even though contract farming cannot be brushed aside altogether, it is community farming under co-operative structure, which can be successfully used to bring fallow land in Goa under cultivation, for meeting the challenge before the government of keeping Goa green.

The report documenting the fallow land in Goa informs that fallow lands cover 13,193 hectares area in the state that is 3.6 per cent area of the state. “Of the total fallow land, current fallows occupies 4,639 hectare area that is 35 per cent of the total fallows and 1.25 per cent of the total area of the state,” it states, pointing out, “the culturable waste land involves 4,621 hectare area that is 35 per cent of the total fallows and 1.24 per cent of the total area of Goa.”

The report further informs, “Fallow lands other than current fallows cover 3,933 hectares area that is 30 per cent of the total fallow and 1.1 per cent of the total area of the state.”

“Fallow land in Goa is equal to its 10.1 per cent area used for food crops, 8.4 per cent of total area sown for other field crops, 31.4 per cent of the gross area under rice, 122 per cent of the area under other cereals, pulses and other oilseed crops, 22.1 per cent of the total area under different cash crops of the state including cashew nut, arecanut, pepper, tree spices, kokum, sweet potato and sugarcane, 115.2 per cent area of the garden crops, 183.5 per cent of the area of the vegetable crops, and 49.5 per cent of the area of the non-food crop,” it notes.

The statistics of fallow land mapping in the state indicate that in North Goa, the fallow lands cover an area of 9,683 hectares, while in South Goa it is 3,510.

Speaking further, Sardesai said that cultivation of plants like Eucalyptus and Australian Acacia are not in the interest of the state, and therefore, cash crops, which generate income for the cultivators should be promoted.

Director of Nagpur-based National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Utilisation Planning, Dr S K Singh, speaking on the occasion said that in Goa, cultivation of cashew is better as compared to other states. “However, we need to introduce scientific cultivation of cashew in the state, as there is always room for improvement,” he added, pointing out that the data in the survey report would help to find best ways of cultivation practice.

Director of ICAR-CCARI, E Chakurkar was also present on the occasion. [NT]

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