Protected Cultivation (PC) Deserves Serious Consideration
In India some farmers have diversified into vegetable cultivation and floriculture. But their efforts have been stymied by uncertainty in both yields and prices.
This is where the option of protected cultivation (PC) deserves serious consideration, especially in the context of the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, as envisaged by the Prime Minister.
Under protected cultivation (PC), the environment conditions, temperature, humidity and light during plant growth are controlled partially or fully. Such control helps protect the crop from the vagaries of nature and pest attacks, augment supply of carbon dioxide for growth, extend the production period and, thereby, raise yields.
Besides, protected cultivation (PC) optimises use of water, fertilisers and chemicals by their application through drip irrigation and fertigation. In PC, the major investment is in the frame, made up of galvanised iron pipes, and a cover of microfilm. In the more hi-tech greenhouses, exhaust fans for ventilation and cooling pads, too, are used humidify the air within.
The other protected cultivation (PC) structures, which partially control the microclimate, are naturally-ventilated polyhouses (NVPH), walk-in tunnels and net-houses. The choice of structure depends upon the crops grown, the local climate and the farmer’s investment capacity. PC received a boost through the Indo-Israel project on greenhouse cultivation (1998-2003), exposing both scientists and farmers to the technology.
In 2004, a Centre for Protected Cultivation Technology was established under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The Government of India has also promoted PC through the National Horticulture Board (NHB), which, since 2005-06, has been extending a 50 per cent subsidy (subject to a cap of Rs 56 lakh) on investments by farmers. While Maharashtra and Karnataka pioneered the adoption of PC, the subsidy scheme has led to its spreading to other states as well.
The Haryana, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (HP) governments are today giving additional subsidy, extending it to even production expenses for the first crop. Currently, about 30,000 hectares area is estimated to be under PC.