India: Rajasthan to take greenhouse vegetable cultivation to new level

In Rajasthan (India), modernisation faces a typical structural hurdle. The share of marginal and small land-holdings in total land ownership in the state is 40.12% and 21.90% respectively, according to the state’s Economic Survey 2017-18. Such highly skewed land distribution itself makes the use of even simpler tools, such as a tractor, uneconomical.

A document on Rajasthan’s agriculture challenges by the Niti Aayog in 2016 cites this as a “major barrier in effective intervention in the advancement of agriculture”.

Yet, India’s largest state with 61% arid or semi-arid climate and 35 million in poverty wants to do an ‘Israel’ in agriculture: make the desert bloom.

It has, over the last couple of years, set up six hi-tech centres, such as the one outside Jaipur, to disseminate cutting-edge Israeli horticulture technologies. Three more are in the works. No state has so many Centres of Excellence.

“We have got the best technologies from countries such as Israel and Netherlands for these centres of excellence,” says agriculture minister Prabhulal Saini.

The idea is to make them grow citrus fruits and vegetables with water-economising technologies. In these crops, the state could do better, just like Israel. So, it’s looking at a mixed cropping patterns. “A little math and you’ll understand,” says director horticulture VP Singh. “Input costs in traditional crops are rising. Agree? And farmers’ returns are falling,” he says.

“Greenhouse cucumber production gives an average 50 tonnes of average production. The average cost of cucumber is about Rs 20 [0.31 USD] per kg. So that’s Rs 10 lakh [15,380 USD] in total revenue. If total costs are Rs 3-4 [0.05-0.06 USD] lakh, that means saving of around Rs 6 lakh [9228 USD].”

Read more at the Hindustan Times (Zia Haq)

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