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India: GPS service to boost polyhouse farming

The State agriculture department is all set to launch a GPS-based service for providing polyhouse farmers accurate information on market-based demand and nutrition needs for vegetables cultivated inside the translucent tents.

The GPS technology initiative, to be launched in September, will give a boost the fledging 375 polyhouse farmers, many of who are budding entrepreneurs, who have reaped their first harvest. "Information on all polyhouses across the state, the type of vegetables being cultivated across various districts, real time growth of crops, diseases and quality of yields would be disbursed amongst various farmer goups,'' said State Horticulture mission (SHM) director K Prathapan.

Citing an example he said that suppose a farmer has cultivated 50 kilos beans in Idukki and the Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi retail markets want to procure it, he can get in touch with the retail agencies there and deliver the vegetable stock directly, thereby making a good profit as per the market demand.

The new generation farmers say that the initial trends have shown that they have been able to get very high yield for vegetables like tomato, beans, and bittergourd, but are finding it difficult to sell it profitably in the retail market.

"The challenge is to break the monopoly of middlemen who have been fleecing both the farmer and the consumer. We need to have a good market chain so that both these segments are benefited," Digual Thomas, one of the first Polyhouse farmers in the State in Wayand.

"Though many consumers today are willing to pay extra for good quality vegetables the options are really few. This is because we do not promote cultivation in a big way. But if the polyhouse farming becomes successful, it is going to change the face of vegetable cultivation in the state,'' Joseph John , agriculture officer from Palakkad district said.

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