The path to food security begins by exploring the challenges, and Water being the key challenge. Crops and livestock need water to grow. Agriculture requires large quantities of water for irrigation and of good quality for various production processes. While feeding the world and producing a diverse range of non-food crops such as cotton, rubber and industrial oils in an increasingly productive way, agriculture also confirmed its position as the biggest user of water on the globe. Irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater appropriated for human use.
In the present scenario of perpetual demand for better quality vegetables and continuously shrinking land holdings, protected cultivation is the best choice for quality produce and efficient use of land and other resources. It is the future of horticulture crop production in India due to the merits that it offers with reference to open field cultivation.
Protected cultivation means some level of control over plant microclimate to alleviate one or more of abiotic stresses for optimum plant growth which can be achieved in naturally ventilated poly-house or net-/polynet-house. Crop yields can be several times higher than those under open field conditions, quality of produce is superior, higher input use efficiencies are achieved
High value crops like Tomato, capsicum, cucumber, melons, rose, gerbera, carnation and chrysanthemum can be grown under a vast range of protected structures like Polyhouses, Shade Nets, Poly-tunnels. These specialized structures allow us to regulate the agro-climatic conditions as per the needs of the crop. The most important advantage of growing crops under controlled conditions is increased production per unit area along with maintaining temperature, moisture, humidity, fertigation at an ambient level. In addition to this, it also allows us to keep the crops disease and pest free thereby improving the quality of the produce. The production per unit area from the same land and crop, can increase by 5-10 times through protected cultivation versus open field cultivation.
In spite of a wide range of the advantages of Protected Cultivation, its penetration in Indian agriculture has been very slow. The area under protected cultivation was 0.23% of the total area under the horticulture cultivation in India in FY”2012 which has now grown to ~1%. This is due to the limited exposure of this technology to a handful of progressive farmers who are aware about its benefits. Even these farmers who are trying this modern method of cultivation, are dependent on the financial assistance provided by the government under national boards such as NHM, NHB and RKVY. So the industry is mainly dependent on subsidy and incentive schemes for promoting protected cultivation. This is because of the high initial cost of these structures and lack of expertise among farmers for protected cultivation.
Envisioning the vast potential that it has in improving the financial status of an agrarian economy, there have to be more efforts from the private and corporate front to popularize this concept among not only farmers but also youth, students, industry and individuals. Harvel is a turnkey solutions provider in the agricultural irrigation and protected cultivation sector with over 30 years of unmatchable experience in serving >60,000 Indian farmers across the country with its Micro Irrigation and greenhouse solutions. Harvel PCD, the Protected Cultivation Division of Harvel has taken the lead in the greenhouse segment by accomplishing some of the best Indian projects in protected cultivation like Center of Excellence at Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalay, Raipur. This project is a Demonstration cum Technology Transfer Center where a vast range of horticulture crops like Tomatoes, Melons, Gladiolus are grown under various structures like Shade Nets, Polytunnels and Polyhouses. Not only this, disease free seedlings are raised in the same premises and are grown under controlled conditions with automated fertigation and filtration.
Harvel PCD is also going a step forward by penetrating at different levels to popularize the concept of protected cultivation to the masses. Harvel PCD’s offerings range from 160 sqm to 10 acres & above for growing fruits, vegetables, herbs for the following segments:
Schools: Setting up small sized structures at educational institutes (schools/colleges) and helping them with agronomical services for making demonstration unit successful.
Hotels: Small/ Midsized structures for Hotels where they can grow all kinds of exotic vegetables like Coloured Capsicum, Cherry Tomato, Seedless Cucumber for their self-sustenance.
Central and State Governments: For demonstration and training purposes to farmers.
Personal Growers/ Hobby Farmers: People who love gardening and have akitchen garden where they love to experiment by growing different types of popular crops.
Corporates: For producing high quality and disease free fruits and vegetables/herbs for retail and export purposes.
Another flagship program of Harvel Azud is iGrowFresh which supplements all the above by buying back surplus produce from Harvel PCD’s Greenhouse clients enabling them to get the best price for their extra produce without getting into the hassles of the marketing channels.
The underlying theme behind promoting the multiple segments to a different set of target audience is to promote and popularize this concept which has boundless potential for uplifting Indian agriculture and in turn Indian economy.