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]