The state government is implementing low tunnel and mulching techniques to grow crops even in non-harvest season, in order to insulate the city’s food supply against adverse climactic conditions.
This technique, which is prominently used in Israel, is presently being used in Uncha Majra, Sherpur and Nurpur villages of Gurgaon for winter crops. The programme started in December last year and germination has begun in the area, the state horticulture department said. It added that the crop will be ready by February.
“Usually, this area gets vegetables around April, but by using this technology we can get vegetables by February. This will also meet the demand (for vegetables),” said Deen Mohammad Khan, district horticulture officer, Gurgaon.
The horticulture department said it has plans to extend the programme to crops affected by a bad monsoon too. It could stabilise the prices that go up every year around the time due to disrupted supply.
Under this method, tunnels are dug within five to six feet of each other and soil preparation is done before sowing, which started in December.
“We have sowed cucumber, melons, watermelons, bitter gourds, squashes and snake gourds that are easy to grow in these tunnels. The low tunnels get better sunlight, ventilation and get water through drip irrigation. The tunnels are suitable for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and melons,” said Khan.
In one acre, a farmer can earn Rs2.5 to Rs3 lakh per harvest and the setup can be used for three years without tilling the land, he added.
The mulching procedure involves simple techniques to create the tunnels. Bamboo sticks are tied to plastic sheets in a semi-circular structure to support the growing vegetable. Another plastic sheet is then placed on the structure to trap sunlight inside and create an optimal temperature for the crop to grow. The covered layer also reduces water loss and eliminates growth of weeds.
“At present, 160 farmers are with us in this programme. Our target is to increase this number by five times to serve the entire population of Gurgaon,” said Khan.