The success of the ‘Nachneachem (ragi) Fest’ which took place on Sunday at Duler in Mapusa propelled the nutrient-rich superfood to a position of pride, with the agriculture directorate promoting its value-added products and encouraging individuals to cultivate it.
PANAJI: Following the positive response from festival attendees to the ragi crop, the directorate wishes to promote the Goan jackfruit in a similar manner. With the majority of the crop going to waste, the directorate is promoting the wonder-cultivation of fruit and consumption in Goa by utilizing nutritional value-added products made from it.
“Such festivals help us in culturally connecting with people,” said Neville Alphonso, director of agriculture. “We are therefore looking at promoting crops that are neglected by people. “The use of jackfruit in our daily lives has yet to be discovered, and the existing jackfruit (crop) has not yet been fully utilized,” he said.
To increase demand for the crop, the department is considering promoting all parts of the jackfruit, including the seed, which can be powdered into flour, the flesh, which can be processed into sweets, and the raw jackfruit, which can be used as a meat substitute.
The department has already established small jackfruit processing units for entrepreneurs in Sanquelim and Curchorern.
“Everyone socially and culturally ignored the nachnem. However, through the festival, we have succeeded in reintroducing it to the public as the traditional crop consumed by our forefathers. Similarly, jackfruit was used in every household, but its consumption is decreasing among the current generation. So, we want to promote it through social and cultural events,” according to Alphonso.
On Sunday, Sampatti Dhargalkar, the zonal agriculture officer (ZAO), Duler-Mapusa, led celebrations of the finger millet (also known as ragi) at the ‘Nachneachem Fest. Small farmers who want to grow nachnem were given 100g packets of seeds to plant in 100-200 sqm plots.
Students from St Britto High School (Mapusa), St Anthony High School (Monte de Guirim), Chubby Cheeks Spring Valley High School (Pilerne), St Thomas Higher Secondary (Aldona), and Vidya Prabhodini College of Education (Porvorim) showcased millet through skits, dances, and street plays.
The agriculture officers of the Directorate of Agriculture performed a dance, and the ZAO, Mapusa staff performed a skit. Supporting music was provided by popular artists such as Oluv, Carlos Gonsalves, Willy Goes, Felly Gomes, and Selwyn Collaso, among others.
“People have realized the importance of nachnen in their daily diet, and we hope that this will create more demand for millets,” said the director. To expand the use of millets, the directorate will organize village-level programs, and new farmers will be identified to begin cultivation by April-May.