Ladakh is a region with a cold and dry climate, with low average rainfall. This has restricted the growth of vegetables to just the summer months, which are generally just 4 or 5 months per year. As a result, most farmers use single cropping.
Due to the scarce availability of local vegetables, they must be imported from outside the region by goods trucks from Manali (480 km) and Srinagar (420 km) and cargo aircraft from Delhi or Chandigarh, where freight prices are high.
The high prices of imports and the unavailability of vegetation have become a critical issue that has led to the creation of a novel type of Ladakh Greenhouse for local farmers. Researchers at the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), led by senior scientist Dr. Tsering Stobdan, created a passive solar greenhouse.
Dr. Stobdan: “We studied the positives and drawbacks of traditional greenhouses, which are used extensively in Ladakh. Accordingly, four major changes were made. We replaced the polyethylene sheet with a triple-layer polycarbonate sheet. This results in an over 7-8 degree Celsius increase in temperature at night during the winter season since polycarbonate has much better insulating properties. Second, the unbaked mud bricks were replaced with stone walls since the latter has more heat-absorbing capacity. The heat absorbed during the daytime is released back into the greenhouse at night. Third, we have constructed the greenhouse three feet below the ground level. Therefore, the ground heat helps in keeping the greenhouse warm in winter. Finally, we standardized the length, height, and width of the greenhouse.”
Tashi Tsetan, the Chief Agricultural Officer of UT (Union Territory) Ladakh also stated that “DIHAR developed the technology, but they have transferred it to the Department of Agriculture, UT Ladakh. The installation of the Ladakh Greenhouse is being done by the department. We are providing farmers with a 75% subsidy for the construction of this greenhouse. Thus far, we have installed about 100 such greenhouses for farmers in Ladakh, which include the Medium type one and for domestic use,”
This step taken by the government to provide greenhouses on subsidy to the local farmers of Ladakh is a step that will boost food production and help in alleviating the rise in prices of farm goods in the region.
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