Goan Farmers Market: Fortifying Interest in Goan
Produce and Products
Iris CF Gomes
Good healthy food is hard to come by these days with the rampant use of pesticides and agricultural practices that strip the soil of its capacity to produce nutrient dense vegetables and fruits. This is where people like the Viegas sisters come in to change the scenario to one that yields beneficial fruit. Chiara, Sheena, and Anne Viegas along with Sheena’s husband Ian Menezes conceptualised, organised and continue to manage the Goan Farmers Market in Margao.
Chiara says, ‘The idea of the Goan Farmers Market was born over lunch one day while discussing how difficult it was to source locally grown fruits and vegetables. So we decided to start The Goan Farmers Market to promote Goan produce and to provide our farmers with a platform to sell directly to the consumer.’ This could possibly result in changing the present mindset of indiscriminately selling land for development and instead converting it into a veritable agricultural cornucopia. The market would prove that the farmers’ labour is not in vain by generating returns that satisfied them. The sisters, besides providing a leg up to Goan farmers, are trying to promote the planting of kitchen gardens.
After the first market was held in Margao in May 2016, the Goan Farmers Market has not looked back and every few months there has been a new edition held. Chiara says, ‘In the beginning, it was a bit of a challenge trying to convince some vendors to come on a Sunday to sell their things at the market. Sunday is the only day that they get to rest, and hence many were hesitant as they didn't know if it would be worth it. However, once they came, they were very happy with the results and they even brought in more vendors!’
Each edition of the Goa Farmers Market has an average of about 26 vendors. These include Dias Farms with local Goan fruits, vegetables, pulses, spices, vinegar, etc, and Rebello Farms with mangoes, bananas, oyster mushrooms and mushroom pickle, etc. Then there is Narla, a company that purveys products made from coconut such as cold-pressed coconut oil, tender coconut soaps, coconut flour and so on. Letcetra Agritech sells hydroponic vegetables (Read more about Letcetra Agritech) and Raika sells honey, beeswax, honeycombs, etc (Read more about Raika). These are just few of the amazing Goan entrepreneurs and farmers you will find representing Goan ingenuity and the love of the land.
Daddy's Home, a well-known school and home for the differently abled is most often the premises used to host the market. Chiara says, ‘Daddy's Home Special School has been very helpful for the past many markets in terms of allowing us to use their large space to organise the market.’ The Goan Farmers Market in gratitude shares its profits with the school, thus allowing Daddy’s Home to carry on with the work of enriching the lives of the differently abled.
The response from the Goan public has been encouraging, with regulars who now wait in eager anticipation until the next market. Chiara says, ‘They come to buy local produce, and they also get a chance to chat with the farmers and other people visiting the market. The food stalls and the live music add that extra zing and make their visit a fun weekend outing.’
The Viegas sisters feel that the core objective behind the market has been achieved to an extent. ‘We have been able to provide a platform for our vendors to sell their produce directly to the consumer. Many of our vendors get orders from our customers even past the market days. That's very gratifying for us to know. With regards to encouraging people to eat healthily, I think people are slowly becoming more and more conscious about what they eat,’ says Chiara.
The tremendous success of the Goan Farmers Market and the increased public demand has prompted having the market more consistently so that people have access to authentic Goan produce and products with ease and regularity.
The next Goan Farmers Market will be held on the 5th of May 2019 at Daddy’s Home, Gogol, Margao. (Watch www.pruthagoa.com’s ‘Events’ space for future editions of the Goan Farmers Market.)