Himachal farmers set to cash in on polyhouse cultivation

The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to fund farmers,especially those in the hills,to build polyhouses— modern greenhouses,in other words...

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla | Published:February 27, 2009 12:33 am

The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to fund farmers,especially those in the hills,to build polyhouses— modern greenhouses,in other words — for growing cash crops through the judicious use of resources like land and water.

The polyhouses will be heavily subsidised and funded at a cost of Rs 352 crore.

State’s principal secretary (Agriculture) Dr P C Kapoor says,“This is the first time that the state has decided to invest such a huge amount in the agriculture sector in one go. The project that has two components — building low-cost polyhouse structures and use of micro-irrigation means like sprinkler and drip irrigation — will help farmers grow vegetables round the year and get assured incomes.

The gains are also going to be two-fold. Firstly,cultivation in polyhouses will not be affected by weather changes like excessive rains,dry spells or harsh winters. Secondly,higher production of quality crops will bring better returns. Lack of snow and rains this winter has already hit Himachal badly. The polyhouse experience in select areas like Bilaspur,Chamba and Shimla has already been successful.

In next four years,the Himachal Government will extend a subsidy of Rs 117.32 crore towards building low-cost polyhouses by the farmers as part of a project to be funded by NABARD. Another Rs 37.6 crore will be shared by the beneficiaries. Another Rs 198 crore will be invested towards micro-irrigation like sprinklers and drip irrigation for cash crops grown in the polyhouses. In all,14.7 lakh hectares of land will be covered under polyhouses and 12,320 sprinklers will be installed.

The state agriculture department,the nodal agency to implement the scheme,has issued guidelines to field officers and farmers. “The guidelines will prove very handy for the farmers while seeking subsidy and adopting the low-cost models of polyhouses. The farmers have already started submitting their proposals,” Director,Agriculture,J C Rana said.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal says,“If the targets are achieved in two years,instead of four years,the government will pump in more money to sustain the scheme for four years. It will all depend on how farmers respond to the scheme.

The annual income from vegetables and cash crops in Himachal Pradesh is around Rs 800 crore,which the government proposes to increase at least to Rs 1400 crore in the next five years.

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