Greenhouse Farmer Association (GFA), a registered body of more than 600 greenhouse farmers in Gujarat, Tuesday alleged that the Greenhouse scheme of Gujarat government has failed due to lack of prior planning and has left hundreds of farmers in debt. They demanded the Gujarat Government to waive off bank loans of around Rs 150 crore which they had taken to establish greenhouses. Office bearers of GFA addressed the press conference at the office of Khedut Samaj Gujarat near Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad.
Vijay Patel GFA Vice president said, “This scheme was launched in 2005. Initially, it did not get much success. But, from 2011, the government announced subsidy of 65% of the project cost. Subsequently, there was an abundance of greenhouses in the state. By 2014-15, there were more than 2200 green houses in Gujarat. However, due to lack of policy level decisions by Gujarat Government, the scheme proved a failure and the future of a hundreds of young people like us who had started greenhouse farming has been jeopardised.”
He added that the scheme has failed to such an extent that today there are less than 100 greenhouse farming units in the state.
According to Vijay, there was no prior study on the kind of structure required for establishing greenhouses suitable to the climate of the state. There is also the problem of various diseases in greenhouse farming which the agriculture universities also do not have the answer to. “Instead of making profit, our greenhouse units are incurring losses,” he added.
Secretary of GFA, Tejas Patel, said that initially around 150 commercial agencies were providing consultancy to farmers to set up greenhouse farming units. “It was after our representations in 2013-14 that the state government decided rules for greenhouse farming and set up a panel of commercial agencies to assist the farmers. Now, there are only 13 such agencies in the state.”
GFA office bearers said that their repeated demand to waive off loans has remained unanswered by the state government.
Vijay said, “We met a number of state government authorities including Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. But, they never gave proper reply to our demands. Eventually, we approached the Gujarat High Court.”