Harvester weakens paddy stalks, say Salcete farmers
A harvester that cuts and gathers the grain weakens the paddy stalks in the process. Farmers of Salcete taluka, who swear by mechanised farming, have to live with this drawback of the modern agricultural equipment.
Farmers gather the stalks once the grains are harvested, dry it and stock it in haystacks to feed the cattle. Strong hay is the only hope for these farmers in absence of grazing grounds and high cost of cattle feeds. A lot of dairy farmers from Salcete, who have been dependent on hay to feed their cattle, have to either serve other feeds to their cattle or get the hay from other states.
In Salcete around 5000 hectares of land is under paddy cultivation and of which 80 per cent is harvested with mechanised harvester, while remaining 20 per cent is manually done. As a result, less hay is generated. “The mechanised harvesters cut and damage over 35 per cent of the stalks,” the zonal agriculture officer, Mr Sandeep Phaldesai said.
He said that farmers prefer machanised farming to reduce cost of cultivation and to get around labour scarcity. He urged the farmers to harvest their paddy manually to save strong stalks.
A dairy farmer, Mr Caitano Fernandes from Raia, who has been into dairy farming for the last 30 years, said that machines have brought about various changes in agriculture sector.
“The hay price has gone up in Goa. While mechanised farming gave boast to farming as it reduces the cultivation cost, the dairy farmers are affected by the damaged stalks. The hay which is weakened by the harvester can’t match with the hay which is generated manually,” he stated. He disclosed that hay prices have gone up in Goa up to Rs 6000 to Rs 7000.
A man who operates the harvester explained that the machine cuts the stems of grains slightly above the ground so that it can easily move forward along with the harvested grains.
The Curtorim MLA, Mr Reginaldo Lourenco, who has sponsored service to operate harvesters to farmers of his constituency, agreed that harvester weaken the stalks. “There are machine available which can fully save the stalks, but they are costly and practically not suitable for waterlogged paddy fields,” he said. He added that if the state government supports we can try out such a machine in Goa. [NT]