Cashing in on Cashew

Dr Deviya Rane, Chairperson of Goa Forest Development Corporation has injected interest and capital into the humble Goan fruit with CASHEW FEST 2024, that turned out to be a runaway success

About yourself…
I grew up in Margao, surrounded by a large, loving family and many cousins. I was particularly close to my grandmother, who played a significant role in my upbringing. My early education was at Manovikas, followed by Model English High School. I then attended Chowgule College for my higher studies and went on to earn my MBBS from Goa Medical College. Throughout my life, some of my school and college friends have remained my closest companions. Although they now live in different parts of the world, our friendship remains as strong as ever. I was born into the Timblo family, originally from Assolna but later settled in Margao, where we entered the mining business. In school, I had a passion for sports and dance, and I dedicated ten years to learning Bharatnatyam. I enjoyed painting and reading fiction, which provided a perfect balance to my academic and professional pursuits.
My parents instilled in me the importance of hard work, integrity, and compassion. My father’s steadfast values and my mother’s incredible sacrifices for her children have been a guiding force in my life. She devoted herself entirely to our well-being and education,  ensuring that we had every opportunity to succeed. Her dedication and love has been a constant source of inspiration for me.
These experiences have shaped who I am today, blending my love for tradition, my commitment to my profession, and the enduring relationships that continue to support and inspire me.

You are a doctor by profession, what made you get into medicine?
Psychology and biology have always been my favourite subjects, and that naturally drew me towards a career in medicine. My maternal side of the family, the Kenkres, includes several doctors, and my mother herself is a doctor. This strong medical background inspired me from a young age. My passion for medicine, particularly the healing aspect, further fuelled my desire to become a doctor. At that time, there were limited streams to choose from, so I pursued a medical degree with the intention of specialising in dermatology and cosmetology.
However, life had other plans for me. I got married in 1998, and by 1999, I had my older daughter, Aishwarya. A few years later, my younger daughter was born, and I devoted my time to raising my children. Even though my career took an unexpected turn, my passion for medicine and the desire to help others heal has always remained strong. These experiences have only enriched my perspective and commitment to the field.

What were the early years like in the profession?
The early years of my medical profession, particularly my time at Goa Medical College (GMC), were some of the most memorable and cherished moments of my life. It was a fascinating period, where I delved deeply into the intricacies of the human body and its functions. The friendships I have formed during those years have lasted a lifetime, and participating in inter-collegiate events added a dynamic and enjoyable aspect to my studies. Every exam was both a stressful and a valuable learning experience. The one-year internship was especially memorable, with my posting in Mandur standing out as an unforgettable experience. Joining the dermatology department and working under the guidance of the late Dr Rege was incredibly enlightening and enriching. Working as a junior resident in the Outpatient Department (OPD) and wards allowed me to engage directly with patients, providing me with hands-on experience in healing and patient care. This period was profoundly satisfying, as nothing compares to the fulfillment of helping and healing others. These early years laid a solid foundation for my career and deeply reinforced my passion for medicine.

What made you enter politics?
Getting married into a political family was a new and unique experience for me. In the early years, I often accompanied my father-in-law, Pratapsingh Rane and my husband, Vishwajit while they engaged with constituents. I spent a lot of time quietly observing, absorbing the dynamics, and understanding the community’s needs. This
immersion deepened when Vishwajit prepared for his first election in 2007, a process that we started well before the actual campaign. During this time, I actively contributed by campaigning and working behind the scenes, focusing on creating self-help groups and programs to skill women in various fields. Empowering women has always been a passion of mine, and I found fulfillment in helping them become self-reliant and confident. Over the years, my
involvement grew, and I realised I needed to step into active politics myself. I saw an opportunity to stand on my own feet, establish my i nd i v i du a l i t y, and make a significant impact. My background in social work and my experience as a doctor, where I treat and heal people, naturally extended to my political aspirations. I approached politics with the same dedication, aiming to work closely with people, understand their needs, and help improve their lives. Entering politics was a way for me to channel my passion for social work and community service into a broader platform where I could affect real change. If I wanted to bring about transformation, I needed to be the change, and that belief propelled me into the political arena.

Dr Deviya and Viswajit
Rane make a perfect
‘power couple’

You are the MLA of Poriem constituency. What change do you envision for your constituency and how are you going about it?
As the MLA of Poriem constituency, which carries a legacy of over 50 years, I am acutely aware of the significant history and expectations associated with this role. For decades, the people of Poriem have supported and voted for Pratapsingh Rane, the longest-serving Chief Minister of Goa, known as the ‘maker of modern Goa’. When I had the opportunity to be elected under the BJP symbol, I understood the enormity of the task and the big shoes that I had to fill. Initially, I had apprehensions about whether the constituents would accept, respect, and support me. However, during the campaign, I made it a priority to understand and address the issues faced by the people, their expectations, aspirations, and dreams. As the campaign progressed, I received tremendous support and gained the faith of the community. I envision building and developing a new and improved Poriem. My focus is on promoting eco-tourism to boost the local economy and preserve our natural heritage. Sattari, nestled at the foothills of the Western Ghats and the Vagheri Hills with the lifeline of our Mhadei River flowing through its forests, offers immense potential for eco tourism projects, including waterfall tourism and bird trails.
Additionally, I am committed to ensuring necessary infrastructure, improving and resolving water supply and electricity issues, mobile internet connection in the outskirts, is brought to Poriem so that our people do not face any inconvenience. My goal is to create sustainable development that enhances the quality of life for all residents while preserving our natural beauty and cultural heritage. By addressing both immediate needs and longterm goals, I aim to foster a constituency that is vibrant, progressive, and reflective of the rich legacy it holds.

Dr Deviya and Viswajit with Vijayadevi and Pratapsingh Rane

As a woman in politics, what is your role in empowering women?
As the MLA of Poriem, I am dedicated to being a voice for my constituency in the Legislative Assembly. I present and advocate for the issues, dreams, and aspirations of our people, with a special focus on empowering women, particularly those from rural backgrounds. My role in politics allows me to create a platform for these women, providing them with the necessary skills, market access, and training to become independent and capable. As a woman in politics, I understand the unique challenges and barriers that women face. This personal insight drives my commitment to creating opportunities for women to thrive. I actively work towards implementing programs and initiatives that focus on skilling and empowering women, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to their families
and communities. One of my key initiatives is to establish self-help groups and provide vocational
training programs that equip women with skills in various fields, from handicrafts to entrepreneurship. By providing these women with access to markets and teaching them how to manage and grow their businesses, I aim to foster economic independence and self-reliance. My goal is to create a supportive and empowering environment where women can achieve their full potential.

Dr Deviya with her parents Deepa and Prakash Timblo

You organised the Cashew Fest last year as well as this year. What made you come up with the idea of the fest?
As the Chairperson of the Goa Forest Development Corporation (GFDC), which originally started as a Cashew Corporation, I became acutely aware of the challenges faced by cashew farmers, particularly the women from rural areas who form the backbone of this industry. Despite the focus on cashew nuts, the cashew fruit and its numerous benefits were largely overlooked. This realisation led me to create the Cashew Fest, with the aim of celebrating and promoting one of Goa’s most significant and versatile fruits − cashew. Goa hosts several festivals like the wine festival and beer festival, but I felt that the cashew fruit, with its rich history and economic importance, deserved its own dedicated celebration. The primary objective of the Cashew Fest is to raise awareness about the cashew fruit and its myriad benefits, while also empowering the cashew cultivators and the women who work tirelessly in cashew plantations. These individuals have devoted their lives to this industry, and it is crucial to recognise and support their contributions. Through the festival, we aim to provide a platform that not only showcases the cashew fruit but also highlights the hard work and dedication of those involved in its cultivation. By doing so, we hope to create greater appreciation and demand for cashew products, ultimately benefiting the local economy and improving the livelihoods of the cultivators and workers. The grand success of the Cashew Fest Season 1 and 2, stands as a testament to our commitment to sustainable agriculture and economic empowerment; ensuring that this vital industry continues to thrive and grow for generations to come.

How have you ensured the involvement of locals in the festival?
Ensuring the involvement of locals in the festival was paramount to its success. Recognising the diverse array of stakeholders involved in the cashew industry, I endeavoured to unite everyone under one umbrella to create a significant and impactful event. From farmers to distillers, self-help groups to artisans, and designers to handicraft makers − all those who utilise cashew as the foundation of their products were invited to participate and showcase their talents. By bringing everyone together, we aimed to provide a platform for collaboration and
mutual benefit. During the three days of the festival, technical sessions were organised in the mornings, featuring key stakeholders and speakers from the cashew industry. Topics ranged from government initiatives  for cashew development to improved cultivation practices, the evolving feni culture, and the nutritional benefits of cashew. These sessions served as a forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration, further reinforcing our goal of saving and empowering the cashew industry. Through this inclusive approach, we not only celebrated the rich heritage of cashew cultivation but also fostered innovation and economic empowerment within the local community. Together, we are paving the way for a thriving and sustainable cashew industry that benefits all involved.

What were the various products displayed at the fest?
The Cashew Fest 2024 Season 2 showcased an impressive array of products, highlighting the versatility and cultural
significance of cashew in Goa. With over 78 stalls, the festival featured contributions from distilleries, restaurants, artisans, handicrafts makers, and designers, all using cashew as the foundation for their creations. To provide a glimpse of the unique offerings, we introduced elements such as the traditional Bhatti used for Feni distillation, showcased in its original form known as Launi. The earthen pots used for distillation were crafted using mud-sourced from anthills, preserving the authentic tradition. One of the highlights was the wooden cottage, Madame
Rosa Feni.. Tastic Station, built by Wooden Homes India. This structure symbolised the ecofriendly spirit of the Cashew Fest. The event featured two outstanding unsung artists, Ravikiran Parmeshwar and Shweta Solyekar, who painted live, adding a vibrant and interactive artistic dimension to the festival. Visitors experienced innovations like
the Cashew Nut Extractor Machine by Ashok Joshi from Nagargao, Sattari, providing an educational and interactive aspect to the festival. Top restaurants and distilleries from Goa curated a variety of cashew-based delicacies to eat and drink, offering visitors a taste of the culinary possibilities of cashew. A fashion show was curated to perfection by Archana Bhobe featuring Goa’s young talent who showcased their innovative designs, emphasising the creative potential of cashew and its by-products in fashion. By bringing together these diverse elements, the Cashew Fest not only celebrated the rich legacy of cashew cultivation but also showcased the innovative and creative uses of cashew in various industries.

The Fest was a success. What were the main factors that contributed to the success of the festival?
I would like to express my gratitude to Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, for declaring the Cashew Fest as a state festival and extending the necessary support. I would like to thank Govind Gaude, Minister for Art and Culture and Sports for supporting us with the required venue facilities; Babush Monserrate, Minister for Revenue and MLA of Panjim; and Rohit Monserrate, Mayor of Panjim, for all the support provided throughout the festival. I would also like to thank Vishwajit Rane, Minister for Forests for his continued support. It is the relentless effort of the entire team at GFDC that has made this event a grand success. I am immensely grateful to my teams, who have worked tirelessly, leaving no stone unturned to ensure the success of this event. Their dedication and perseverance were crucial in bringing this festival to life. A special mention goes to the team at Vinsan World for executing every aspect that was deliberated on and envisaged for the second edition of Cashew Fest. Their expertise and meticulous planning helped us curate this event from start to finish. Their attention to detail and commitment to excellence ensured the festival’s grand success. Our key stakeholders played a significant role in the festival’s success. Their support, collaboration, and active participation enriched the event and contributed to it overall impact. The Department of Agriculture and Goa Police have been really helpful to us. Their support throughout the event is really appreciated. The enthusiastic participation of the local community, including artisans, local fashion designers, and self-help groups, added a unique charm to the festival. Their contributions highlighted
the cultural and economic importance of the cashew industry. The success of the Cashew Fest 2024 Season 2 was a resultof the collective efforts of our devoted farmers, hardworking team, expert event managers, supportive stakeholders, and the vibrant local community. This festival is not only about entertainment, music and dance, but also about education and promotion of the cashew fruit and our cultural heritage through the fruit; for Goans it is not just a fruit but a way of life.

Dr Deviya flanked by her supporters after her record victory margin from Poriem in 2022

What value additions do you envision for the future editions of Cashew Fest?
For future editions of Cashew Fest, we plan to make the technical sessions more comprehensive and include workshops on sustainable farming practices, innovative processing techniques, and global market strategies for
cashew products. We aim to explore international expert participation to share global best practices and innovations in cashew cultivation and processing. This will open up new avenues for export for the Goan cashew industry. We will continue to ensure that our festival is eco-friendly by encouraging the use of biodegradable materials, recycling, and eco-friendly packaging solutions. We have been successful in connecting our farmers with the stakeholders directly for all the required necessary raw materials. These elements will help in making our future editions
of the festival more relevant, impactful, educational, and an enjoyable experience, without shifting focus from the core objective of ensuring continued growth and success for Goa’s cashew industry.

Goa is famed as a tourist destination. How would you look at synergizing with the promotion of Brand Goa?
GFDC is committed to synergizing with the promotion of ‘Brand Goa’ by enhancing and diversifying the state’s tourism offerings. As a nodal agency, GFDC has ambitious plans to elevate hinterland tourism and create sustainable tourism infrastructure.
We are enhancing bird and nature trails across the state to provide tourists with immersive experiences in Goa’s rich biodiversity. GFDC is investing in the refurbishment of existing facilities under its jurisdiction, ensuring they meet high standards of comfort and accessibility for tourists.
Recognising the growing trend towards wellness tourism, we plan to establish yoga, naturopathy, and wellness centers. GFDC is developing eco-tourism resorts that blend luxury with sustainability. We are committed to upgrading the Bondla Zoo, making it a top-tier wildlife attraction.
Goa’s waterfalls are a major attraction, and we are improving amenities at these sites. This includes better access paths, safety measures, and visitor facilities to ensure a pleasant and safe experience for all.
We are exploring the introduction of jungle safaris, allowing tourists to experience the thrill of Goa’s wilderness.
This synergy between GFDC’s efforts and Brand Goa will not only boost tourism but also preserve and showcase the unique ecological and cultural heritage of the state. This vision is in line with promotion of Brand Goa.

Your family support and inspiration
Having the tallest political leaders like Pratapsingh Rane and Vishwajit Rane in my family has been a profound source of inspiration for me. Their dedication to serving the people of Sattari and Goa has deeply influenced my own journey in public service.
Their exceptional body of work has been instrumental in bringing pioneering changes for the betterment of Goa. Pratapsingh Rane’s visionary leadership has put Goa on the global tourism map, showcasing our state’s unique cultural and natural beauty to the world. His legacy of transformative initiatives continues to inspire me daily.
Their remarkable ability to connect with and manage the people of Sattari has been a constant motivation for me. Their hands-on approach and commitment to nurturing and uplifting our community have set a high standard for public service. They have been pivotal in driving socio-economic development in our area, especially in remote regions, ensuring that every individual has the opportunity to thrive. Their combined efforts in fostering the growth and prosperity of our community of dedication, hard work, and genuine care for our constituents. I am eternally grateful for their support and guidance, which continuously inspire me to serve the people of Sattari and Goa with unwavering commitment and passion.
My daughters Aishwarya and Arundhati, Vishwajit, my parents and in-laws are my pillar of support and their encouragement motivates me to strive for excellence and do better every day.

Future Plans
I have a vision for a new and progressive Poriem which is centered on empowering women and youth, providing employment opportunities, and creating state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure.
One of my key priorities is to empower women through skill development programs, offering them platforms to showcase their talents and become financially independent. This initiative will particularly focus on women in rural areas, ensuring they have access to the resources and training needed to succeed.
In addition, my future plans involve leveraging the initiatives at the GFDC to make it a self-sustaining and profitable corporation. By implementing innovative projects and enhancing existing operations, we aim to create sustainable income streams that will benefit both the corporation and the local communities it serves.
Ultimately, my goal is to foster an environment where the women and youth of Poriem can thrive, contributing to the socio-economic development of our region. Through strategic initiatives and community-focused projects, we will build a brighter, more prosperous future for everyone in Poriem and the Goa Forest Development Corporation.
Crossed boundaries, we have made a mark locally, but we further aim to create a national mark and then go international






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