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Hi-tech technique of growing flowers reaps benefits in Hills

Hi-tech technique of growing flowers reaps benefits in Hills
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Kolkata: An advanced technique of growing gerbera and carnation flowers involving poly houses and using less water, which was introduced by the state Water Resources Investigation and Development (WRI&D) department at Kalimpong in Darjeeling has yielded desired results, benefiting as many as 24 farmers during off-season. The farmers are now being able to earn Rs 4,000 per month from June.

The farmers were also exposed to better markets to sell the flowers. The three year project, started in November last year with an aim to provide an alternative source of income to the marginalised farmers.

The agency that was selected through tender was given the responsibility of the farmers' hand holding for every single step like training, capacity building, cultivation, flower cutting, packaging and marketing.

"Floriculture has an excellent prospect in the Hills but the lack of scientific knowledge for large scale cultivation was affecting the income prospect of the farmers. There have been interventions at various levels from time to time, but it was felt that thorough hand holding was necessary for assuring round the year income generation model for them," said an official. The project was conceived through private-public partnership mode. It began with training and exposure visits for the farmers in the first two months.

Four Water Users Association (WUA) were formed and a bank linkage was established. Scientific practical training was imparted to the stakeholders. This was followed by installation of 24 poly houses -14 for gerbera and 10 for carnation production.

Five genap tanks were also installed near the poly houses cluster-wise to connect all those through hydram schemes for assured supply of water.

Additional sources of water were given through a "rain water harvesting system" in all the poly houses for judicious use of water.

Finally, the seed bed preparation was completed for transplanting of quality tissue culture seedlings. After three months of transplantation, the production began in June.

The poly houses have a drip system and are equipped with fogger, water tank, electric pump and rain water harvesting systems for effective use of water. If excess water is available then it can be utilised for strawberry and lilium cultivation in open fields for other nearby farmers under the hydram schemes.

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