Polyhouse Farming

Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. The sector plays a vital role in the development of India with over 60 per cent of the country’s population deriving their subsistence from it. However, agriculture's contribution to GDP has declined in recent years due to faster growth in non-farm sectors. Agriculture constituted 17.9% of GDP in 2014.

The decline in agriculture’s share of GDP is also a result of several challenges faced by Indian farmers, such as, small land holdings, poor yields due to reliance on inefficient methods of farming, too much reliance on natural phenomena such as rainfall and lack of knowledge of modern methods of agriculture.

Polyhouse farming is an alternative new technique in agriculture gaining foothold in rural India. It reduces dependency on rainfall and makes the optimum use of land and water resources. Potentially, polyhouse farming can help the farmer generate income around the year by growing multiple crops.

Polyhouse farming enables cultivation of crops that can give maximum yield on specific days (e.g. roses on Valentine’s day) and exotic crops that can’t be normally grown in Indian conditions (e.g. coloured capsicum, broccoli, mushrooms). It also enables cultivation of regular crops off-season, thus fetching the farmer a higher price (e.g. tomato, chilli, capsicum, brinjal, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower).

Polyhouse farming entails construction of a metal structure covered by polythene. Parameters such as moisture, soil nutrients and temperature in the polyhouse are controlled to ensure timely and abundant yields. Typical polyhouses are from 500 square meters to 10,000 square meters, which makes them suitable for farmers with small land holding.

Polyhouse farming process requires expertise in three areas - construction of the structure, cultivation techniques and marketing. Through this exposure, volunteers will better understand these three elements and the opportunities and challenges provided by polyhouse farming in Kangra district.