Mining closure helps farming thrive in Dharbandora

Ponda: The mining dependants of Dharbandora taluka, who have been severely affected by the mining closure, have turned to farming. And the fallow farmlands have come to life, giving a ray of hope for turnaround of the agriculture sector.

More than 400 hectares of land surrounding the mining pits have been brought under the plough in the taluka after the closure of mining operations.

In the last seven years, around 650 farmers have returned to farming. They have been raising chiefly three crops – cashews (220 hectare), paddy (120 hectare) and vegetables (70 hectare).

Interestingly the number of farmers going back to farming has been on the rise.

“The mining closure had deprived the villagers of their livelihood. Many villagers had farmlands, which had been left fallow for years. As there was no other option, many of us decided to go back to agriculture,” a farmer from Dharbandora says, adding that they are happy that their farmlands have turned green again”.

Vegetable cultivation has been picking up at a rapid pace in the taluka, which has emerged as the second largest vegetable cultivation zone in the state.

From 10 hectare in 2012, the area under vegetable cultivation has gone up to 70 hectares in 2019.

Upbeat by the feat, agriculture officials say the taluka will emerge as a hub for vegetable cultivation in Goa.

Around 250 farmers, including women, have been growing vegetables in the taluka. The farmers have joined hands under the community farming initiative.

Around 70 hectare of land is under vegetable cultivation as of 2019. The farmers supplied around 147 tonne of vegetables to the Goa State Horticulture Corporation, earning around Rs 73 lakh.

A large quantity of vegetables like ladies’ fingers, cluster beans and chillis are being supplied to the corporation.

The farmers are keen on raising crops like carrots, watermelons, tomatoes, and also flowers.

Zonal agriculture officer Nagesh Komarpant say that in 2012-13 vegetable produce in the taluka was around 2.03 tonne which fetched an income of around Rs 73,000 for only 35 farmers, who had raised the crop in around 10 hectare of farmland.

But 2019 saw the vegetable yield rising to 187 tonne in the taluka, giving the returns of around Rs 73.50 lakh to over 200 farmers who had raised the crop on more than 70 hectares of farmland.

It is pertinent to note here that the return to farming after the mining closure has helped some farmers shine in the field.

Nagesh Samant and his son Varad Samant of Dharbandora have emerged as progressive farmers owning around five hectare of farmland, which is surrounded by mining pits.

The Sawants had raised the crop of around 70 tonne of vegetables in 2018, which has gone up to 100 tonne of vegetables.

Cashew cultivation has also been picking up in Bandol locality of Kirlapal-Dabal village, where some 45 farmers have brought 220 hectare of land under the plough.

The mining closure saw around 120 hectare of land coming under paddy cultivation. Some 360 farmers are engaged in the raising the food crop.

Some 128 farmers have brought around 38 hectare of farmland under paddy cultivation at Avkon in the taluka. In Sangod village, around 24 hectare of farmland has been brought under the plough by around 94 farmers.

In Metawada-Collem, around 12 hectare of farmland has been brought under cultivation by around 50 farmers. Some 60 farmers have given a new lease of life to around 30 hectare of land at Vakekon-Collem.

Around 15 hectare of farmland has been brought under cultivation by 30 farmers at Tatodi in Dharbandora taluka.

The farmers use mechanised method of farming,and have availed government schemes, especially for solar fencing. [NT]