Way back in July 1993, we were in the middle of setting up the Goa State Horticulture Corporation under the leadership of Heman Karapurkar. The government of Goa had realised that marketing channels and an assured procurement was needed to boost vegetable production in the state. A quarter of a century later, direct retailing by the farmers seems to be a better option. WhatsApp groups today are much better than bulk SMSs that had replaced Yahoo groups and Google groups earlier. A general broadcast can also be made on Facebook. So one can contact one’s customers in real time and inform them about what is available and in what quantities on each day and fix a place for a flash sale, delivery or a pick-up point. Nestor Rangel and Avertino Mirada teamed up to make a successful sale of mangoes, red kernel rice, pickle and jam during the last two months.
The farmers of Majorda have selected the bold grained alsanddo or cowpea from a mixed bag that they procured at Mapusa’s Friday market some ten years ago. They multiplied it among themselves and use it as seed. The best alsanddo now comes to market from Majorda. Joao de Sa has launched a project to promote the mankurad mango, increase the availability of its fruits in Goa and a surplus to export to the middle east countries including Qatar, where he is based. Suman Anand Kurade wants mankurad mangoes in Delhi. In fact, Goans want a mankurad mango wherever they are: one only needs to get the mangoes where the Goans are. Nestor is converting his mixed plantation of mango trees to one that is largely of mankurad and the Cardoso mankurad with the Israeli maya mangoes that sell faster than hot cakes in winter!
The transformation of agriculture into agribusiness is the need of the hour. The GCCI Agriculture Committee that I chaired for the last four years has focused on ‘value addition’ through processing, packaging, branding and marketing specially in jack fruit and kokum. Kokum has been successfully re-classified from minor spice to a fruit. A similar attempt to re-classify cashew feni from ‘country liquor’ to ‘white spirit’ has not borne fruit due to lack of concerted effort. The nomenclature is as important. Doubling agriculture production without increasing the demand for the produce is counter-productive as glut in the market make the prices to crash.
There is a need for an agriculture policy for the state of Goa. When governments change, or ministers change within a government, the policy often undergoes a change. Investment in agriculture, specially fruit crops and high-value horticulture has a long gestation period. Mid-term changes in the support structure converts potential success stories like polyhouse cultivation of vegetables and flowers into NPAs for the banks and distress for the farmers. Understanding the linkages in agri-business environment needs SWOT and PEST analysis. At the beginning of my career, only SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analyses were enough but now PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological) analysis is used to assess how these factors will affect the performance and business in the long-term. We have to deal with all kinds of climate change. The one who does not change, will soon be as dead as a dinosaur.