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India: Krishnagiri growers are discovering the benefits of CEA

Despite its push towards industrialization, the Krishnagiri administration has not lost sight of agriculture, the bread and butter for most people in the district. While corporates have entered the cut roses segment for exports, progressive farmers with small to medium land holdings are growing select cash crops, aided by the state. 

"We continue to focus on the core strengths of the district. We are pushing horticulture in a big way. I know of a few farmers engaged in floriculture and horticulture who make as much money as established software engineers, thanks to the incentives provided for greenhouse farming under the National Horticulture Mission along with the state," says Krishnagiri collector Dr. V Jaya Chandra Bhanu Reddy.

A one-acre crop under a controlled environment gives better returns than a 10-acre open farming," says Jagadish, 40, who grows 'Taj Mahal' red roses, cucumbers, and capsicum on his farm near Thally. "Exports are for bigger players since there is risk involved. The domestic market itself is good. Despite a slightly lower price than the market, agents pick up the produce from our backyard." He has been urging his friends to take up organic greenhouse farming. His typical day starts around 6 am after a cup of tea. "I check the farm, assign the day's work, fertilize the plants myself when needed and leave around 11 am. Have installed cameras and monitor the progress of work over the phone and pass instructions when needed," says Jagadish. Be it cut roses, capsicum, or cucumber. They are cut or plucked on alternate days.

He has hired migrant families from Uttar Pradesh as workers and has provided them with accommodation. "Though their efficiency is lower, they are available when work has to happen, unlike our local people who come up with excuses for not reporting to work when they are actually needed," he says. "Prices vary from `2-'15 for a rose, `15-'50 per kg of cucumber, and `25-`300 per kg of capsicum. There are months when we spend from our hand. But we need to maintain the farm and provide proper inputs to reap the benefits when prices are higher," he says.

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