Herald: The pandemic has united us: Xetkar
The pandemic has united us: Xetkar
Without substantial cash, without loans, without land, without labor, without help in the beginning, and yet the agricultural domain turns lush green. The work of seeding the paddy using mechanized transplanters began on June 16 and it brought smiles to three passionate young employees of companies turned farmers who were destined and determined to succeed in the field of agriculture. It all happened when business was down and the pandemic was on. Father George Quadros played a key role and helped to help these three enthusiasts realize their dream. VIKANT SAHAY and SAGUN GAWADE spoke to them to find out what inspired them to venture into the muddy fields from their plush head office
VIKANT SAHAY and SAGUN GAWADE
An aircraft maintenance engineer by profession who did his engineering at the Nehru College of Aeronautics in Coimbatore, Goencho Xetkar’s journey began in November 2020 before working for airlines including Jet Airways for ten years. As airlines were not operational due to the pandemic, Kenneth Lopes, 41, came to his homeland amid the virus and was at home with virtually no work to do. Meanwhile, Kenneth’s relative, Neville Luis 41, was getting into farming in Goa. Neville received his master’s degree in geology from the University of Goa and worked in Australia for a private company that engages in oil rigs. He too returned home during the pandemic and with his childhood friend Stanley Fernandes, 40, who graduated in science with geology as a specialty from Dempe College and worked for a telecommunications company for over a decade. in Mumbai and Pune, came together to fulfill their childhood dream of cultivating.
Neville Luis, who initiated this movement, was inspired to return to the fields when he was only six years old. He accompanied his grandmother to the fields to “work”. “The pandemic came as an opportunity for me as I stayed at home after returning from Australia. Stanley and I are college friends and we were riding bikes surveying the lush green fields of Goa and it gave us a idea. “Why can’t we do it ourselves?” I asked who Stanley was okay with. Thanks to his relative in Aldona, Stanley bought 3,800 square meters of land on lease for the agriculture. It was for one season and it was basically for experimentation. It happened last year in 2020. It all started there, “said Neville Luis.
Stanley and Neville both started out manually in farming. They both realized there was no labor, no machinery, no tractor, no tiller and for two weeks they experimented manually. “However, we Google searched and found that mechanical farming was possible in Goa, saving time, money, manpower, etc. Father George Quadros’ name appeared on Google. We approached Father Quadros and his hand held us and pulled us along, ”said Neville Luis.
He further added that the purchase of the Japanese-made Kubota machine was a problem. “We all pooled our savings to buy this machine which cost us Rs 14 lakh. At the same time, we had to buy other machines, which was an additional cost. However, we succeeded without any support from anywhere. Father helped us buy the Kubota machine. Moreover, it was even difficult to find a place to set up the rice nursery. Finally, we approached the Vicar General of the Archdiocese and with his help the parish priest of Carambolim was kind enough to lend us a place behind the church of Carambolim. This is where all of our backhand operations take place. Despite having the machines, but no room, we wouldn’t be able to start, ”Neville said.
In fact, Father George Quadros wrote a letter to the Directorate of Agriculture on September 15, 2020 asking for help on subsidies for Kubota machines but there was no encouraging response from the Directorate. All these three members of Goencho Xetkar discussed among themselves. “It won’t happen, so let’s use our savings to help buy the machine and that’s exactly what we did,” the team members said.
The Goencho Xetkar team, which now owns a Kubota machine, rents it to interested parties at Rs 1.5 per square meter. “We accept reservations one month in advance by phone. Right now the machine is booked until mid-July and the estimated area our machine will cover is approximately 320,000 square meters, ”Neville Luis informed.
When Herald approached Father George Quadros, who is popularly known as “PaddyMan of Goa”, said that “the mechanization of rice cultivation is the need of the moment. It has become a popular movement and the Directorate of Agriculture must take advantage of it and be proactive. Management should move from a program approach to a process approach in the field of rice cultivation. The Don Bosco Society team is making sure we have rice on our plate in these times of COVID, taking all the risks and leaving to help our farming community. “
Kenneth Lopes, one of three Goencho Xetkar team members and an aircraft maintenance engineer, told Herald that: “Father George Quadros is our guru. We just follow in his footsteps and reproduce his technique. We all had on-the-job training with Father for a full year. The three of us put all of our savings into this. We did not receive any financial support from anyone. We launched on June 16 of this year. We will harvest the paddy in 3-4 months and I am convinced that the product will be much bigger than the manual product.
Stanley Fernandes, geologist and former business boss who quit his cushy job just to enter the muddy field as a farmer told the Herald that “the corporate world was too arrogant and constantly moved me to different places . I resigned from the position in the company. But when we landed in the paddy field, we realized that the moon was promised by the government for the farmers but on the ground it was very difficult to find support. Obtain labor, seeds, funds, etc. was like a huge obstacle. We have spent a lot to develop the area. Then mechanical agriculture came as a savior. This has saved us money, time, manpower and effort, all in one basket.
He added that now we are ready to help anyone who comes near us and we can help them from scratch. “When we tried to do it manually on our leased land in Aldona we spent around Rs 28-29,000 and if we had done it mechanically we would not only have saved time but also invested money. at least 50 percent money. With mechanized agriculture, the yield increases by 15% more than that of manual agriculture.
Joaquina Rodrigues, a farmer from Agassaim in Goa who took the help of the Kubota machine donated by the Goencho Xetkar team, told Herald: “It was so easy and the sowing of the rice is done in no time. time. About 1000 square meters of surface were sown in 30 minutes which is not at all possible when done manually. Previously we were spending Rs 4500-5000 for this same labor work and that was also unreliable. With this machine the total cost was Rs 1500. I am sure that many farmers who do not go to the fields because of the cost and labor will come back and agriculture in Goa will multiply. .