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Punjab to use greenhouse farming techniques from Costa Rica

Chandigarh, Sep 11 (Calcutta Tube) Punjab, the state that led the country’s Green Revolution in 1950s and 1960s and is the single biggest contributor of foodgrains to the country’s national kitty, is seeking help for greenhouse cultivation of crops from faraway Costa Rica.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is visiting the small Central American country to ‘study’ its model of ‘greenhouse cultivation that has resulted in substantial improvement in quality and yield of crops, giving better returns to the farmers’.

Badal is part of a government team to Costa Rica for an ‘on the spot knowledge and assessment of the technological intervention required for improvement of yield and quality crops’.

The team has visited four farms in different parts of Costa Rica’s Alajuela province where the farmers were growing lettuce, celery, tomatoes, sweet pepper and coriander.

During the farm visits, Badal was demonstrated how farmers in Costa Rica have adopted the new technology of ‘hydroponics’ where the plants are grown under controlled conditions in greenhouses.

Badal, in a statement that was released here Wednesday, said: ‘Punjab is facing a major problem of near stagnation of productivity of major crops i.e. paddy and wheat, and degradation of its natural resource base. There is a dire need for diversification. My visit to farms in Costa Rica was to have an on-the-spot knowledge and assessment of the technological intervention in improvement of yield and quality of vegetable crops that result in bringing better returns to the farmers.’

He was explained how under hydroponics technology the nursery was grown in trays filled with compost and the saplings later transplanted in a medium where there is no soil, and the supply of water along with other nutrients like fertilizers and minerals was maintained and controlled. The method saves the crop from soil-borne diseases through efficient use of nutrients. He was shown how the excess water was re-circulated, reducing water requirement to the minimum and preventing loss of nutrients.

The farmers in Costa Rica told Badal and other experts accompanying him that the technology has helped double productivity and improved quality. They said that it has also led to decrease in labour costs as the greenhouses were being managed mostly by their families.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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