Researchers worked on 20 farmers from diverse homesteads across four taluks

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Complex for Goa has developed model homestead farms suitable to the agro-climatic and socio-economic situations of the Goan households through a Nabard-sponsored research programme titled “Upscaling of homestead farming in different farming systems of Goa”.

The research team was headed by N.P. Singh, the Director of the Institute and was co-ordinated by B.L. Manjunath, Principal Scientist (Agronomy) of the institute along with two horticulturists A.R. Desai and Raj Narayan. The team was supported by Sunetra Talaulkar, the Home Science specialist at Krishi Vigyan Kendra attached to ICAR at Old Goa.

The major objectives of the project, which got under way two years ago, were to provide farmers a subsidiary source of income through potential homestead farming system, to increase and sustain productivity of existing homestead farms and to encourage maximum utilisation of available family labour and to create an integrated business enterprise at micro level.

A total of 20 farmers were selected representing different categories of homesteads in four taluks of Goa covering both north and south Goa districts. Existing situations of the homestead gardens of Goa were characterised before the start of the project through field survey using a structured schedule and the problems faced by the households were diagnosed. Production gaps in the farmers practice were identified for each of the farmers based on the prevailing situation and the need of the farm family. Suitable scientific interventions were identified to meet the identified production gaps, said an official of the ICAR.

A series of four training programmes were organised both at the institute and in the fields belonging to farmers and the farmers were exposed to different model homesteads being developed both at the research farm and in the fields of the progressive farmers.

A special training programme was organised for interaction among the progressive farmers so that the message was conveyed to all the stakeholders. Through the project a model homestead unit has been established on the Krishi Vigyan Kendra campus of the ICAR and the same was demonstrated for capacity building of the participants.

Allocation of crops for different household spaces including the boundary walls, house roofs, on trees, front, back and side spaces of the households, marshy areas, elevated areas, etc. were decided on scientific basis keeping in view the sunshine availability, household requirement and the marketability.

The major interventions were targeted for improving the household nutrition through round-the-year local vegetable production including leafy vegetables like amaranthus, palak , drum stick, curry leaf, mint, etc.

Cultivation of cucurbitaceous vegetables like ridge gourd, snake gourd, bitter gourd, little gourd, etc., along with the locally preferred tuber crops were encouraged during the rainy season. Common vegetables like radish, bhendi, chillies, vegetable cowpea (wal), cluster beans, etc., were encouraged for cultivation during rabi season with the supply of seeds and the total package. Tissue cultured banana saplings were supplied and the household fruit production was ensured in all the selected farmer fields.

As many of the homesteads were found with improper spacing especially in perennial fruit and plantation crops, new plantings were advised with correct spacing involving shade-loving spices like black pepper, nutmeg, etc as intercrops. Further, the farmers were encouraged to recycle the household waste through low-cost vermi composting by supplying vermi-beds and earthworm culture. Backyard poultry was encouraged with the dual purpose birds like Gramapriya and Vanaraja which are good both for egg-laying and for quick body weight gain for meat purpose with rearing on household kitchen waste.Consumption pattern

Researchers at the ICAR said the results of the study indicated that nearly two-thirds of the homestead-grown vegetables are consumed in the household with only one-fifth of the vegetable produce being sold in the market while a part it is exchanged among the neighbouring households. Further, it was also observed that most of the vegetable production in the homesteads was concentrated during November to March period coinciding with the post-monsoon period.

Nutritionally, the homestead met most of the mineral and vitamin requirement of the household family members although the carbohydrates and protein requirements were met partly by the homestead production.

The system with a mix of vegetables, flowers and medicinal plants as intercrops in fruits and plantations involving spices was able to sustain the biodiversity of vegetation around the household with a change in the local micro-climate having long-term benefits on health of family members.

The project also helped to develop model homestead units for different holding sizes of the household based on the family requirement and the marketing potential keeping in view the resource situations including part or fulltime availability of the family members to work in their gardens, said ICAR researchers.

  • The study says two-thirds of the homestead-grown vegetables are eaten in the household

  • The project encouraged farmers to recycle the household waste through vermi composting