Sources of Livelihood


Even though mining has begun to gain currency in Goa in the recent past, it is said that the existence of iron ore mines was known to the Portuguese as early as 1770 CE, but was not spoken about then for fear of invasion from external forces. Over the next two centuries, several developments were made, with aspects of mining becoming mechanised, and hence larger, faster, and more efficient. Along the way, it had, and continues to have, a negative impact—through smoke spewed by trucks, paddy fields and khazan bunds being damaged, noise pollution, and water contamination. Mining concessions for iron ore and manganese were granted under the Portuguese in perpetuity.

In 1987, after a lot of effort, the Indian government passed the Abolition Act, converting perpetual concessions into fixed-term mining leases that expired in 2007. While mining was hardly profitable in the late 1970s and the early 1990s, the 2000s saw a boom with large amounts of iron ore being supplied to China. In 2014-15, in an attempt to regularise the illegal mining period, the state government retrospectively backdated 88 lease renewals.


Given its location — spanning 104 kilometres of coastline with multiple headlands and bays — fishing is one of the important occupations in Goa. The major marine fish landing centres include Malim and Chapora in north Goa; and Vasco, Talpona, Cutbona and Betul in the southern part of the state. More than five per cent of the total population of Goa is engaged in fishing and other allied activities. Apart from the actual process of fishing, a number of ancillary activities such as processing and small-scale vending also provide livelihoods to the locals.

According to the Directorate of Fisheries (Govt. of Goa), some of the commonly found fish along the coast of goa include Indian oil sardine (tarlo), Indian mackerel (bangdo), shrimp (sungtam), seer fish (wiswan), ribbon fish (balle), croakers (dodiaro), flat fish (lepo), catfish (sangot), cuttlefish (manki), shark (mori), tuna (bokdo) and crab (kurlio). The months of September-March are ideal for fishing, as the monsoon period from June-September can prove unfavourable due the rough sea.


Situated in the Western Ghats and having a significant forest cover, agriculture in Goa is, by default, largely organic. Almost 80% of the total population of Goa is engaged in agriculture and other farming-related activities, with 35 percent of the geographical area comprising farmlands. During the state’s liberation in 1961, agriculture was the primary means of livelihood for 70 per cent of the demographic. The important crops grown in Goa include cashewnut, rice, coconut and a host of spices. A variety of chillies such as tambdi baji, khola and alsane are unique to Goa; some have acquired a Geographical Indication (GI tag) too. For its requirements of vegetables, Goa mostly depends on neighbouring states.

The state has a rich and unique history regarding land ownership patterns, from independent holdings to comunidade ownership. As a result, most landowners are unable to prove an absolute ownership of the properties they own, leaving tracts of land unusable for growing crops.


With a coastline spanning 110 kilometres, Goa is replete with estuaries, creeks and backwaters, with inland waterways of about 250 kilometres. Today, coastal waters up to a depth of 50 metres are intensively being fished. ‘Khazans’—the Konkani word for a particular type of coastal saline soil—are more than 3500 years old. They are traditional farmlands specific to Goa and managed by communities. Here, agricultural lands, slightly elevated by the creation of inner embankments, are protected by outer embankments or bundhs. Khazan lands are integrated agro-aqua ecosystems and consist of four main components: bundhs, manas, rice fields and poim. Originally used for paddy cultivation or salt extraction, they have traditionally been a source of livelihood for many locals.


Fish is a staple in the diet of most Goans. About 90 per cent of the local population eat fish. Fishing in the khazan is a secondary activity, a spin-off of land reclamation. It has traditionally been an extension of the agricultural system. This traditional method of inland fish production was a natural system of low-level technology utilising local materials. It provided an efficient, inexpensive method for capturing and easier harvesting of a variety of brackish-water fish.

Some of the fish species in khazans include tiger prawns, white prawns, crabs, mullets, pearl spot, milk fish, catfish and lady fish. However, in recent years, fishing has become a threat to khazan lands, becoming the main activity driven by market forces that offer better prices for fish than paddy cultivation. Consequently, sluice gates, which are part of this ecosystem, are opened for the inflow of water which floods the land, allowing for fish to breed. While this does allow the local communities to enhance their livelihoods, the salinity can permanently damage the quality of the soil.


In the low-lying, brackish coastal floodplains and mangrove forests, bunds are constructed using locally available material such as stone, mud and clay (locally known as ‘chanoy’) to prevent the ingress of salt water. The inner bunds are made using straw, mud and stone, serving as a protection from any form of nutrient leaching. A sluice gate (made of wood or concrete) is located at the mouth of the rivulet entering the farmland so as to control the water levels. This mechanism regulates the flow of the water during high tide, maintaining salinity in the farmlands. Wooden gates need regular repair as freshwater crabs might feed on them. The gates shut automatically when the water levels equalise on both sides. At the end of the khazan lands is a depression called poim, at the lowest level of the low tide. It acts as a repository for excess water, thus protecting paddy fields from high tides.

Where the plateau meets the reclaimed land, farmers make small ponds to store water and cultivate summer crops (rabi). A particular kind of paddy known as Corgut paddy is cultivated in the monsoon. During the summer, the water near the river is saltier, hence pulses, onions and peas can be grown. People are banned from entering the khazan from June to September in order to save any damages to the poim. Moreover, they can fish only within 100 metres of the gate.

Salt Pans

The salt produced in the salt pans of Goa was considered to be of superior quality and exported to Burma, Thailand, other Asian countries and later, the Middle East too. With the Portuguese colonisation of Goa in 1510 CE, salt production gained momentum because of the increased demand for consumption. While Portuguese food required surplus salt, it was also used to balance the hull of ships on sailing.

Poiems form natural barriers between salt pans, with the flow of water being controlled by sluice gates. During the monsoon, salt pans flood with marine life—shrimp, mullet, pearl spot—giving mitkars an income from fishing. After the monsoon, water is drained from the poiems to make way for salt production. Clay and grass are used to raise the ridges around the pans, and the river water is routed into them. Mitkars shape these borders of the pans with their hands, beginning this preparation between December and January. Divided into three sections, the first set of pans form a reservoir tank holding seawater from the estuary; the second are evaporator tanks where water concentrates in salinity; and in the third set, the salt begins to crystallise. 

Spice Plantations

Savoi Plantation, Savoi-Verem, Ponda

Close to the banks of the Mandovi river, in the village of Savoi lies this spice plantation which is more than a century old. The farm is established by Mr. Shetye and maintained by the Shetye family. Apart from the farms of spices, herbs and fruits, there is also a pond here which attracts many birds. It is a great spot for bird watching. One can also experience a traditional Goan meal made with freshly grown spices.

Tropical Spice Plantation, Keri, Ponda

Located in the village of Keri in Ponda taluka, this plantation has a guided tour available where you can see the farming of black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, chillies, coriander; as well as tropical trees like cashew, areca nut (betel nut) palm trees and tropical fruits like star fruit, jackfruit, custard apple, bananas, papayas, pineapple. Open-air dining can be enjoyed where one can devour authentic Goan cuisine. Additionally, there is a lake where guests may go boating and possibly see a variety of species. A butterfly garden is a recent addition to this area.

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Sahakari Spice Farm, Ponda

Located in the village of Curti in Ponda Taluka lies Sahakari Spice Farm covering an area of 130 acres. There are a lot of cashew nut trees on this farm along with spices such as orchid spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, pepper, cloves, chilli, curry leaves, turmeric, ginger. Visitors can opt for a tour of 2-3 hours followed by lunch at the restaurant. 

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Pascoal Spice Village, Khandepar, Ponda

In 1982, this farm was started with spices, fruit bearing plants and a nursery of ornamental plants. Today, the spice plantation covers an area of 1 lakh and there is plant nursery which sells saplings and products for gardening enthusiasts. Situated in Ponda close to the Mahadayi river, this farm won the best farm award by Government of Goa in 1992. This property also has an open-air hall that can be rented out for weddings.

Rustic Plantation, Dongurli Sattari

Located in the north east end of Goa, in a valley close to the village of Dongurli in Sattari district, the farm covers an area of approximately 100 acres. Tourists can opt for a tour of the plantation and also experience a locally made meal. The famous Bicholim Pottery Studio of Goa is located close to this spice plantation. 

Atreya Vedic Farm, Mollem

In the village of Mollem, in Dharbandora taluka close to Mollem National park, this eco resort is owned and maintained by environmental activist Nirmala Sawant. It is spread across 36 acres and has orchards, medicinal plants, butterfly houses among others. There is an astrological plant park, with a wide range of trees and plants which represent zodiac signs as well as constellations. 

Tanshikar Spice Farm, Netravali, Sanguem

This spice farm is located in Netravali village in the Western Ghats of Sanguem taluka and is spread over an area of 40 acres. Visitors can trek within the property, enjoy bathing in waterfalls and experience Goan meals with organic spices. There are also cottages available for the visitor’s to stay on the property. 

Mangaal Plantation, Quepem

Located in Quepem taluka in South Goa district, the farm encourages organic farming and boats of cashew and mango plantations. A range of spices and herbs are also grown here which are used by the restaurant at the farm to prepare meals that one can devour while relaxing in the green surroundings of the Western Ghats and also have a chance to visit the Usgalimal Rock Art Heritage site which is at a distance of 18 km from here.

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At almost 89 per cent, Goa has a relatively high literacy rate, according to the 2011 Census. Apart from multiple courses in the fields of the arts, commerce, science, architecture, dentistry, law, hospitality and pharmacy, there are numerous institutions offering education in marine sciences. These include the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) in Vasco and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Dona Paula. The Goa Institute of Management is a key business school, while the IIT and NIT are important engineering institutions. There are both private as well as government-aided primary and secondary schools across the state. English is the main medium of instruction, though Konkani is also taught in some schools.


Tourism is the primary industry in Goa, helping a large population with employment opportunities and further prospects in other allied sectors such as aviation, cruises and foreign exchange earnings. Known for its forts, churches, beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, unique cuisine and several cultural offerings, Goa attracts tourists from all over India and across the world. Moreover, with the recent discontinuation of mining—one of the key sources of income for the state—tourism has been given an even greater boost.

The positive implications of the growth of tourism in Goa are manifold, including increased tax revenue, foreign exchange earnings, the redistribution of national income, development of household and cottage industries, increased employment, productive use of latent resources, increase in exports, improved public infrastructure, increase in retail businesses and small trade and a dispersion of development to non-industrial regions. However, it is not without its negative aspects, which might comprise a rise in the cost of living, high foreign exchange outflows, benefits to non-locals, wastage or shortages of resources including water, conversion of agricultural land into land used to build properties, a drop in agriculture and traditional fishing as livelihoods, and the pressure of mass and unplanned tourism on infrastructure as well as natural resources.

Main Markets

Goa’s markets provide a range of unique merchandise, from the lively flea market in Baga to the bustling night market of Arpora, as well as the always-energetic Margao Municipal Bazaar. In addition to the typical offerings found in flea markets and beachside night bazaars, shopping in Goa encompasses the opportunity to explore designer boutiques and specialised shops that offer fashionable yet unique attire and accessories. Moreover, Goa boasts a selection of bookstores that feature a wide assortment of literary genres, including folklore and fiction. There are also various government emporiums that engage in the trade of handicrafts and antiquities at affordable prices.

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