Mechanization of farming activity is expected on a large scale for the first time in the state as the agriculture department has engaged three farmers groups to provide machinery during the current season for harvesting operations.
The department issued the circular on Monday providing details of the modalities to entrust the task of providing services to farmers at a subsidized rate to groups from Saligao, Fatorda and Curtorim. “The societies which have shown willingness to carry out harvesting by using combined harvesters will charge Rs 2,000 per hour. The farmers will pay half and the department will chip in with an equal amount,” Satish Tendulkar, agriculture department director told TOI on Tuesday.
Stating that the subsidy will reduce the burden on farmers and also facilitate the mechanization process, Tendulkar said the service societies will provide combined harvesters, which can harvest, thresh, winnow and bag in the paddy fields.
While the harvesting season has just commenced, eight centres will be set up all over the state to help carry out harvesting operations, sources said. “Each centre will be entrusted specific areas to operate,” sources said. Around 20 agriculture department labourers will assist the three service societies during the harvesting operations.
The society will be authorized to collect the payment of Rs 1,000 per hour directly from farmers. It will have to produce bills of work done on an hourly basis and duly endorsed by farmers to claim the balance amount (subsidy) from the department.
“The government`s support is important at this stage as mechanization will reduce dependence on labour, reduce drudgery of the intense labour activity and make it more professional and a viable economic activity,” Darryl Pereira, a trustee member of Saligao farmers group, Reviva Goa said.
The other two groups are from Fatorda and Curtorim. “The scheme is just being implemented and we expect some hiccups,” MLA Reginaldo Aleixo Lourenco, chairman of Curtorim service cooperative society said.
The state government has floated an attractive scheme offering a 70% subsidy to farmers groups on purchase of combine harvesters. The machines which are available in a range from Rs 18 lakh to Rs 23 lakh can handle harvesting, threshing and bagging. “Goa is perhaps the only state to provide high subsidy on purchase of machinery,” sources said.
The process of mechanization in the state has been slow due to various factors. Only a few farming villages in the state, especially, Nuvem, Verna and a few villages in Bardez had switched to mechanized harvesting during the last couple of years.
Agriculture officers and progressive farmers see it as a boon to farming as rising costs on inputs and shortage of labour has resulted in a drastic reduction of area under paddy cultivation.