Goa’s staple ‘Fish curry-rice’ under threat

Panaji, Oct 20 (IANS) After a marine biologist warned of a fish famine in the seas off Goa, an official Wednesday said unseasonal rains had hit paddy cultivation in excess of 20 percent — putting Goa’s showcase culinary staple ‘Fish curry and rice’ under threat.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Satish Tendulkar of the state agriculture department said unseasonal rains over the last week to ten days have caused large-scale damage to seasonal agriculture, especially paddy, which is a major crop of the kharif season.

‘We have received complaints that paddy cultivation has been destroyed by the rains from across the length of north Goa. In most cases, the farmers are in the middle of the harvesting process and these heavy rains have hit them hard,’ Tendulkar said.

‘The paddy crop in talukas (sub districts) like Ponda, Bardez and Pernem have been extremely damaged due to rains,’ he added.

Goa, which has nearly 31,000 hectares of land under paddy cultivation, produces in excess of 1.20 lakh tonne paddy annually.

‘We have dispatched our officers to determine the exact damage caused by the rains,’ the official said, adding that with the rains showing no sign of abating – the damage to the crop could be much more.

Leading marine biologist Baban Ingole, chief scientist at the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), has earlier warned that a combination of the state’s burgeoning fishing trawler industry, pollution and climate change was resulting in the fish being driven off the Goa coast, resulting in a ‘fish famine’ in the region.

‘It is both due to natural causes like climate change and decreased dissolved oxygen (in the seas) as well as man-made,’ Ingole had said, adding that popular fish like mackerel, sardines and prawns would be the first to exit the marine habitat off the state, which is flanked by the Arabian sea on the west.

Goa’s annual fish haul has steadily decreased over the years from 88,771 tonnes in 2009 to 80,687 tonnes this year.

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