Akhira is ready for harvesting after 130 days of planting and has been extensively tried in the different Indian Council of Agriculture Research farms including the one at Ella. It is claimed that this variety is well suited for Goan climate where there is salinity in the air due to its proximity to the sea.
The Zonal Agriculture Office at Margao has distributed 4,000 kgs of Akhira seeds for the current kharif crop and it is planted by farmers in different villages of Salcete.
Zonal Agriculture Officer Sandeep Phal Dessai pointed out that there is an increase in paddy cultivation in the taluka which is visible. Unfortunately, no authority is maintaining any records of area under paddy cultivation.
In fact, the survey undertaken by the Mamlatdars to identify fallow land in the State in order to help the Law Commission draft its bill on contract farming has also been kept on hold.
However, according to Sandeep the increase in paddy cultivation is due to factors – mechanized farming and support price for paddy. “Earlier people used to keep their fields fallow due to unavailability of labour. But the machines and particularly the harvesting machine has proved to be a relief to them and that is why every year there is an increase in area under paddy cultivation,” he said.
Besides, the Rs. 7 per kg support price offered by the government for paddy has also proved to be a good incentive for farmers who now earn around Rs. 16 per kg of paddy as agents purchase it for Rs. 8 to Rs. 9 per kg.
For the current kharif crop, the ZAO, Margao, besides the Akhira seed has also distributed 1,07,000 kgs of Jaya and 59,000 kgs of Jyoti seeds to farmers. While Jaya is ready for harvesting within 130 days, Jyoti matures faster and is ready after 110 days.
However, due to unscientific farming practices by the farmers in Goa, they still cannot get the expected yield of paddy. While the expected yield of paddy from one hectare is 6,000 kgs, in Goa the average is 3,500 kgs.
Sandeep attributed this to various factors including inconsistent water during the kharif season and farmers not fertilizing the crop at the right moment. The soil quality is also another factor, he said.