Traditional cropping systems in open fields have been vulnerable due to unpredictability of the climate and other significant factors. The challenge is to grow a diverse array of food crops throughout the year to ensure that residents' nutritional and other needs are met.
Polyhouses can result in enhanced economic prosperity and the ability to farm in a controlled environment. This way, crops can be grown all year round without being dependent on the seasons. This method of farming has an advantage over open field farming due to the superior quality of crops produced in an enclosed growing environment, throughout the year.
The capital cost of these polyhouses was largely subsidized through the Zila Yojna, with the remainder coming from THDC and the beneficiaries. Contributions from beneficiaries was insisted upon to ensure their participation & active engagement and given the guiding principle that “nothing is given for free". Insistence on financial contribution also provided a natural selection mechanism, since only those beneficiaries who were really interested showed willingness to participate financially.
Selected farmers received appropriate training and educational exposure visits to ensure success on the ground. They were given two days of training on polyhouse management, which included a day in the classroom and a day of educational exposure. Besides, the Mrida team has been providing hands-on training and facilitating engagement with agriculture experts, the State Horticulture Department, and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs).
As many as 68 applications for Polyhouses were received from across 28 villages through Beneficiary Application Forms, reflecting an overwhelming positive response for this intervention. Based on a careful assessment of these applications, and in conjunction with the State Horticulture Department, 28 polyhouses were set up across the catchment area.
Details of Installation
The 28 polyhouses installed under Mission Nayi Kiran included 5 each in Villages Eldana and Batula, 3 each in Bhenta, Urgam, Nauligad, 2 in Saloor, and 1 each in Daswana, Naurakh, Tenduli Chak Haat, Jaisal, Dungra, Painnee and Helong, 21 of these polyhouse growers began crop cultivation and harvested a total of over 4 MT of vegetables, resulting an additional revenue of over Rs. 1 lakh during the first few months of operation of their respective pilot projects. This is in addition to self- consumption in their respective homes and distribution amongst friends, relatives and farm workers on their lands. The remaining 7 Pilot Projects are at various stages of cultivation and utilization, and benefits will be ongoing.
Off-season tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and capsicum, which are uncommon in this region and are currently sourced from the plains, are being grown by the farmers. Several beneficiaries have already seen two harvests with the third set of crops at the fruiting stage. Others are anticipating their first harvest, and a few are at the seedling transplantation stage.
By all indications so far, Polyhouses have been a visible and positive component of the livelihoods project, and hold the potential to be a huge success for the beneficiaries and stakeholders.
An important factor to be kept in mind is to ensure ongoing training, support to beneficiaries with regard to crop productivity, prevention of pests, and addressing day to day issues that may come up. This can be done with the support of the Horticulture Department, external resources, local Krishi Vigyan Kendras, and Brand Ambassadors from amongst successful Pilot Project beneficiaries.