Ram Gopal - exotic crop farming in polyhouse

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Mr. Ram Gopal

Revives the lost shine with exotic crops farming in polyhouse

Farmers in Shimla were struggling to make the ends meet five years back but the situation changed with change in farming system. Mr. Ram Gopal, President, Shimla Marketing Cooperative Society shares, “Villages located around Shimla experienced a major setback in farming! Open filed cultivation had issues like animals destroying the crops and untimely rains. We were desperately looking for a solution because we farmers have to do farming only. No other job suits us! Finally we got the key to change with polyhouse farming. We found out about this new technology from Shimla’s horticulture department.”
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Polyhouse farming was boon for every farmer as it could be set up even on a small land and government provided subsidy as well. “It was encouraging to see farmers taking up the new technology. Across the five panchayats polyhouse were set up in a 25,000 sq m area. Secondly we used our strength to best our abilities that is we decided to grow exotic vegetables and flowers as these are apt for our climatic condition. Further it also helped to reduce the polyhouse construction cost because we didn’t need temperature regulators as we don’t have extreme weather,” he adds. Bell pepper, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and other exotic veggies were opted by the farmers along with carnation flowers.

Some of the farmers went all the way to Pune for a training that came handy in routine managements of these new-age farms. “I started with one polyhouse but with consistent growth achieved now I have added four more. These vary in size rest crops grown are same. My revenues increased like never before. I could repay the entire bank loan too,” asserts Mr. Ram Gopal.
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“Our success attracted village youth as well who were earlier running away from farming. Some took the initial risk of investing money in polyhouse set up. They all fared well and are earning good money from farming. Even they are expanding their polyhouse cultivation area,” reveals Mr. Ram Gopal.

Farming community of these villages is getting benefitted by the adopting the new technology. Slowly the quantum of farm produce is increasing hence it has become a necessity to plan for a proper storage else in no –time the success will be short-lived. Therefore collectively members and shareholders of Shimla Marketing Cooperative Society are constructing a cold storage facility. This would enable them secure the present farm produce and give more space for experiments with other exotic crops. “We want to cultivate leek, broccoli and iceberg lettuce in vegetables while in flowers we want to experiment with lillium flowers,” he shares.
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A recent study by Nabard Consultancy Services (NABCONS) highlighted that through these polyhouses farmers are able to get the productivity approximately five times more than in the open field cultivation. Further, polyhouse farming is less tedious and more enjoyable. “And most important the yield of the crop is uniform and quality is better so our incomes have increased largely,” he claims.

Looking at the improved performance more farmers schemes are introduced encouraging farmers to stay on with agriculture. “To avail these government schemes only prerequisite is to take the polyhouse training. This condition is indirectly fruitful as farmers can manage the polyhouse more professionally that ultimately is rewarding for him,” he opines.

To assist the farmers in selling the farm produce the cooperative is thinking new ways for reaching the direct buyers. “We are sure we could scale our farming operations at community level because now we have regained our confidence in agriculture. Besides we are now working collectively so we derive strength from our unity,” he concludes.

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