Special Correspondent

40,000 hectares of land to be brought under cultivation in five years

Watershed projects taken up with the involvement of seven NGOs Schemes aimed at rejuvenating water sources in rural areas

PANAJI: The coastal State, where traditional farming is on the decline for various reasons, is poised to witness a silent "green revolution", thanks to a series of watershed development projects which would bring 40,000 hectares of rain-fed land as well as wasteland under cultivation in the next three years. The beneficiaries under these projects would be growers of cashew, coconut and paddy. It is a public-private partnership involving seven non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with the State Government agencies, led by Agriculture Department and Rural Development Agency funding the ventures through National Water Development Programme for Rain-fed Areas, Integrated Wasteland Development Project and Western Ghats Development Programme.

Most of these projects, which were aimed at developing natural resources (soil, water and vegetation) and social resources (local people), were past the midway five-year mark, said officials of Agriculture Department.

The NGOs are trying to rejuvenate the water resources in villages. As for instance, Gram Vikas Kendra is working at Savoiverem, Pale Kothambi, Verem, Vagurme, in Central Goa, (Tata) Energy Resource Institute in Maulinge-Bicholim, Nirmal Vishwa in and around Ponda taluka in central Goa, Goa State Council for Science and Technology under Department of Science and Technology at Morpilla-Quepem and at Khola in Canacona and Don Bosco's Konkan Development Society at Sulkarna, Nune in Sanguem-Quepem taluks, and zonal agricultural office at Varkhand, Pernem have been associated with various projects.

Goa Mineral Foundation (GMF), a body set up by iron ore mining houses to take up socio-economic projects for the people of mining areas as well as environmental and ecological regeneration projects in the mining areas has joined the race. Two such projects, one each in North Goa's Mayem area and one in South Goa's Pirla-Cavrem and Rivona have involved self-help groups in watershed projects.

Sachin Tendulkar, Project Officer of GMF, said: "The real beauty of these projects is that we all work in partnership with local villagers by building their skills and establishing community based organisations ( involving different sections of society."