Protected cultivation practices are gaining momentum in Madhya Pradesh due to combined efforts of Government of India, Madhya Pradesh State Horticulture Mission and Precision Farming Development Centre (PFDC) established at ICAR-Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal. The area under drip irrigation has increased from about 90,000 ha in 2012-13 to over 2, 50,000 ha in 2017-18., similarly the total area under shadenet house and polyhouses increased from 26.0 ha to over 300 ha during this period.
The staff of PFDC provides technical support to the state government in advocating these practices amongst the farming communities. The regular training programmes organized on drip irrigation, plastic mulching technology and covered cultivation by the PFDC helped over 100 farmers of Madhya Pradesh state to establish drip irrigation, plastic mulching, shadenet houses, polyhouses etc for enhancing their income over traditional farming practices. Farmers who had been cultivating conventional field crops have adopted drip irrigation at a cost of Rs 0.8 - 2.5 lakh in an area of 1.2 - 6.0 ha for cultivation of onion, garlic, potato, tomato and chilli after undergoing training and getting financial assistance from the State Horticulture Mission. They have earned a revenue of about Rs 3.0 - 5.0 lakh/ha annually during the last two years. The visit of PFDC staff to farmers’ field and assistance over phone on the crop management practices, operation and maintenance of drip irrigation and fertigation systems from time to time have helped the farmers in adopting modern techniques. These farmers are not only saving water but also generating higher income as compared to earlier conventional cultivation practices. A network for marketing their produce has been developed in the district headquarter with the support from state horticulture mission, because of which the highly perishable vegetables are being immediately sold in the market, preventing post-harvest losses.
To promote shadenet house and polyhouse technology, farmers were given training at PFDC, Bhopal on protected cultivation techniques during 2013-15 and they started cultivating vegetables (tomato, capsicum, cucumber, broccoli) and flowers (Gerbera and Roses) under shadenet houses/polyhouses. The structure size varied from 2000 – 4000 sq.m. By availing subsidy on these structures from State Horticulture Mission/ National Horticulture Board as well as with the financial support from banks these farmers could establish these structures as a business venture for cultivation of horticultural crops. The vegetable growers understood the advantages of offseason cultivation and earned a net profit of Rs 2.0 – 5.0 lakhs in a season depending upon the type of crop from half acre to one acre land. The problems encountered by the farmers during the crop cultivation are being addressed by PFDC staff by paying a visit to the site or over phone depending upon the nature of the problem.
With the adoption of hi-tech horticultural practices the farmers’ were able to get higher revenue over conventional crops and generated employment for four to five rural labourers in their protected structures. The success that these farmers achieved has become source of inspiration for other farmers of the region to adopt modern techniques in horticultural crops cultivation.
(Source: ICAR-Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal )