Protected Cultivation – A Door to Opportunities for Sustainable Profitability

Naved Sabir, Principal Scientist, CPCT, IARI, New Delhi - 110012

We are witnessing transformations in agriculture on all fronts – Climatological, in terms of transgressions in ranges of temperature, precipitation, pollution etc.; Technological, in terms of improvisations and newer products; Professional, in terms of human resource availability to ability; Commercial, in terms of startups to conglomerations; Socio-economical, in terms of awareness, acceptability, affordability, profitability and last but not the least, Environmental, mainly in terms of sustainable goals. In the gamut of these multitudes, though we affront challenges on all counts, yet the human spirit, supplemented with technological developments and in pursuit of addressing these challenges, there always remains a positive energy towards future, that, while being vacant all the time, is still fullest with hope, only if we had a will.

Amidst the quintessentiality of agriculture for human survival, the show has to go on whole hog, affronting any exigencies and contingencies. With fragmentations of land, eroding soil base and nutritional status, vagaries of climate, farm, family and food requirements, besides entrepreneurial expectations from and for agriculture, all bring forth colossal level of challenges but with equal level of opportunities. Indeed protected cultivation is one such arena that ensures to touch upon virtually all these facets. You have environmental stesses, you modulate the climate structurally and technically to suit the crop, region, people and pockets; you have technical and commercial challenges, protected cultivation provides better choice to address them through technologies, expertise, collaboration and cooperation.

We need to reiterate to those who are interested in protected cultivation to address each and every aspect of the technology, in practical, on-ground situations, to take a comprehensive overview and preview on- plan, priorities, pricing and partners…….well going down to even pipes and plastics too.

While agricultural institutions including financial bodies have been working hard on research gaps, technologies and support to the growers amidst whatever the infrastructural, financial, operational and professional constraints, they have done a commendable work to establish this sector in the country, particularly down south; besides, various social media platforms, apps, blogs, sites, have done wonders in the extension of technologies. To name a few, YouTube-based technical exposure and operational modalities have been opened to people at large like never before. Indeed social media and information technology have supplemented, rather virtually sidelined the official channels to a minuscule level in terms of content, coverage, consistency and frequency and overall freedom of outreach. Such models and means of outreach have really enriched, enabled and emboldened more and more startups by young entrepreneurs but also newer ventures by the big industrial outfits. And fortunately, such regime and regimens are here to stay.

Establishments of newer startups as well as novel approaches by existing industry are creating a highly formidable base of players. This rich base of players beginning with entrepreneurship-oriented growers, fabricators, suppliers, professionals, academia, workers, will together do their level best to bring the best out of technology. All the stakeholders need to put things together in terms of climatogical, social, economical, entrepreneurial, regional and agronomical crop requirements for bringing the best out in the open. Only then the entrepreneurial opportunities will harness the sustainable profitabilities to all stakeholders. Indeed, such entrepreneurial proliferation will increase efficiency to address not only productivity, but also quality, sustainable livelihood, job creation, women empowerment, cluster-based farmer producers and self-help groups and last but not the least, an organized set of standards and markets at national and international level. Each loop of such domain will soon evolve and enable newer loops of success through rich interaction of such players.

We shall sure come across these interactions in more than one way in furthering the form and formidability of this sector in as constructive a manner as possible. It ought to invoke us at our personal capacities and limitations, to sure indulge in this endeavour and keep spelling out these opportunities not only through our connected efforts but also vide sharing the ideas and plans through such blogs only to keep looking for, with bated breaths, for policy makers to accommodate all stakeholders with support wherever most needed to smoothen the work environment for this specialized ecosystem of protected cultivation.

Looking forward for suggestions and ways forward to exploit the opportunities in as much of their right earnest as possible.

* Please note that the views of the author are strictly personal and do not, in any capacity, reflect the views of any organization, any statutory authority or any governmental body.