Leh, Dec 29: Despite freezing temperatures, around 800 farmers in Ladakh are growing fresh vegetables by setting up solar greenhouses.
During the winter, due to a shortage of fresh vegetables in the Union territory, the people living here face many miseries as the Srinagar-Leh highway remains closed for about five months due to heavy snowfall at Zojila pass.
As such, the agriculture department in Leh made a plan in 2020 for both Ladakh and Kargil districts and provided solar greenhouses to people through the scheme so that even though the temperature is frozen, people can cultivate vegetables in winter.
As per the farmers, due to a lack of locally grown vegetables, they had to buy these from outside which used to reach Ladakh through trucks that come from Manali and Srinagar or by airlifting from Delhi and Chandigarh where the freight costs sometimes go up to Rs 110 to 150 per kg.
“We are cultivating cabbage, tomato, spinach, cauliflower and coriander,” a farmer told Rising Kashmir, adding, “Ladakh, being a cold and high altitude region of India has a very harsh climate and a short agriculture season. These greenhouses help farmers grow vegetables in the snowy season.”
Sub Divisional Agriculture Officer Leh (SDAO) Tashi Dolma said the greenhouse was developed by Defense Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR). She said that in the last two years, over 800 farmers have installed solar powerhouses in both Kargil and Leh.
She said despite severe cold conditions between December and February end, the farmers now have fresh vegetables to eat and sell. “Farmers can also sell fresh vegetables in the market which can also give them a means of earning employment,” she said.
The agriculture officer further informed that they are receiving good responses from farmers. The department bears the cost of polycarbonate sheets, doors, and windows while the government is installing these solar powerhouses at a subsidy of 75 percent, she said.
“These solar greenhouses help the local communities get fresh vegetables through the year and reduce the expenditure they now face buying vegetables coming in from other places,” Dolma said.