Telangana wants rooftops to be the new 'farms'

 Telangana | Written by : Suryaa Desk Updated: Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 11:05 AM

HYDERABAD Feb 16 : The state horticulture department is asking people in the city to join hands with it in the 'Urban Vegetable Farming' initiative to promote cultivation of vegetables and fruits on balconies and terraces of houses.With agricultural land being used for non-agriculture purposes, especially real estate development, the supply of vegetables and fruits from surrounding districts such as Ranga Reddy, Medak, Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda has dwindled over the years. Currently, just about 30-35% of the total vegetable and fruit demand of the city is being met from surrounding areas.

Most vegetables coming to the city are being supplied from some pockets like Vantimamidi in Siddipet district, Ibrahimpatnam of Shamshabad district and Shadnagar areas. The rest of the supply comes from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Officials say that one of the reasons for the rising prices are increasing transport costs. This has left the state marketing department with no choice but to intervene, purchase vegetables in bulk and supply them at subsidised rates at Rythu Bazars during periods of sharp spike in prices.

Officials say the new scheme will serve several purposes. One, is that growing vegetables on the rooftop, balcony or backyard garden will help meet the demand in the city with the additional advantage of people getting organic vegetables at a much lesser cost than in the market.The other benefits include fresh vegetables at home all year round as well as greener balconies and terraces giving people an opportunity to get closer to nature.

The horticulture department has decided that it will provide seeds, seedlings, manure and implements with a 25% subsidy to prospective growers. To begin with, each family will be restricted to two vegetable growing kits."People can grow vegetables and fruits in spaces as small as 50 sft and 200 sq feet.But there should be sunlight, water facility, water leak proof terraces or balconies and more importantly interest on part of the people," Commissioner of Horticulture L Venkatram Reddy told TOI. He said the department has conducted training programmes to interested individuals and there has been good response from the public.

Apart from urban farming, the department has also taken to encouraging cluster colonies where vegetables are grown in about 2,000 to 3,000 acres in a village in surrounding districts of Hyderabad."The farmers get subsidized material and get marketing facilities to sell their produce," MV Madhusudhan Reddy , deputy director of horticulture department said.