90 percent of India’s cold arid area is in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. The cold desert is spread over 80,000 kilometres and is shut for almost eight months in a year. Most of the population, nearly 89 percent to be precise, live in these rural areas which are remote, unconnected and inaccessible. Since farming can be done only for four months, agriculture in this region is different from that in other rural areas of India. Small land holdings, low productivity, labour shortage, poor post-harvest management and marketing of produce are some of the socio-economic constraints that holds the agriculture back in the region.
The situation becomes worse in winter when vegetables worth lakhs of rupees have to be imported from other parts of the country. People suffer from nutritional issues due to no access to green vegetables in winter. Farmers store potatoes and onions underground in the vegetable cellars and take them out for consumption in winters. Since the farming season lasts only for four months farmers have to adjust with mono-cropping instead of crop rotation.
Greenhouse is the technology that has been helping some of the farmers in the cold desert to cope up with the food shortage in the winter season. Eight years ago, Tsering Angchok, a farmer from Saboo village, set up a greenhouse which he earlier used to do by covering crops with plastic sheets, blankets or logs. He spent Rs 1.5 lakh and got a subsidy of Rs 80,000 from the government as well.
Since the cost of greenhouse is high, many farmers have adopted alternatives such as the low tunnel technology to grow vegetables. The tunnel can be shifted anywhere. Costing only INR 2,000, the technology is not only portable but also cheap.