With Goa staring at an economic crisis in the wake of suspended mining activity, agriculturists have begun tapping farming potential in the State to create an alternative livelihood for people facing displacement.

With the mining industry in a bind in the coastal State, which is the biggest exporter of iron ore in the country, due to stoppage of transportation and extraction of iron ore following Supreme Court directives, around two lakh people dependent on the sector are teetering on the brink of displacement.

Agriculturists feel that cultivation of cash crops such as cashew, cocum and spices and reclamation of mining land could help people earn a decent living should the crisis deepen.

“Mining is not going to stay here forever. So what after mining? We have (to) ensure that agriculture is strengthened in the State,” Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director (Goa) Dr N. P. Singh told PTI.

He said cash crops can be cultivated on mining soil, which can provide a good earning for people who will be displaced.

ICAR scientists are recommending crops such as cashew, cocum and spices which they say can yield good produce.

“Youths will naturally turn to tilling if they realise that it is financially paying. ICAR has already approached a few mining companies with the proposal of soil reclamation,” Singh said, adding reclamation of mining soil can be achieved in five-six years.

Dr H. R. Prabhudesai, a scientist with ICAR Goa, said testing of the soil should be done and particular crops can be recommended.

“A crop like cashew which was introduced in Goa to avoid soil erosion can be introduced in these belts.

Scientific farming can help earn money for farmers,” he observed.

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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