Before the iron ore began to be exported from Goa the only major export from this territory, for at least a century, was `Goans’ or `Goanese’ as the British and foreigners used to call them for reasons understandable, who perforce had to leave their homeland owing to lack of employment facilities. With no single major industry in the territory and agriculture being the main occupation, which was pursued by primitive methods and thus produced rice, the staple food of the people, not sufficient even for four months of the year, emigration became a must.
Thus Goans, mostly Christians, began to leave their homeland for Bombay, Poona, Calcutta and other places in India, and for Africa, the Arabian Gulf, and former Persian Gulf areas, Burma and Malaya, then the British Empire. With their easy adaptability, native intelligence and knowledge of English, which was rendered easier for them to acquire by the common script with the Portuguese language they had learnt back home, they could obtain employment. By the common bond of religion, the British were also partial to them and absorbed those educated in the offices as clerks, and those unlettered as butlers, cooks, waiters in their homes, clubs and hotels, Parsis also showed a marked preference for Goan domestics. Goans were much in demand as chief stewards, barmen, cooks, and saloon and cabin crew in Bi and P and O liners.
If these seamen worked and remained away from their homes for long periods they built some of the palatial houses in many villages of Goa, especially in Cuncolim, Velim, Assolna in the Saleete Taluka.