For better yield: Tunnel farming best to grow off-season vegetables, say agriculture experts

Technology helps save crop from severe weather and handling related wastes

APP February 06, 2018

FAISALABAD: Agriculture experts have advised farmers to adopt tunnel farming technology as it is the best method to grow off-season vegetables and for better yield.

A spokesperson for agriculture extension department said progressive farmers were earning good income by adopting tunnel technology.

He added that it was impossible for growers to grow summer vegetables during cold season and winter vegetables during hot season. However, the off-season vegetables could be grown easily and successfully by using tunnel farming method.

He pointed out the vegetables grown through tunnel technology were covered by green fibre sheets to protect them from severe cold and frost or scorching heat. With intensive care, the farmers could get early production of off-season vegetables and earn more income than seasonal vegetables, he said.

The agriculture official recommended the vegetable growers to get proper training of tunnel farming.

Tunnel farming is a low-tech procedure that helps farmers in Punjab to reap more profits from the vegetable crops that are mainly grown in summer. In recent years, tunnel farming has gained popularity in various districts of Punjab, including Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Lahore and Kasur, Gujranwala, Arifwala, Vehari, Mailsi, Faisalabad, Jhang, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan.

Farmers in Punjab have started adopting the technique to boost yield and produce high quality vegetables. This technique involves constructing tunnels like greenhouses i.e. hut-like structures with plastic that serve as cocoons for growing.

Tunnel farming operates on the principle of creating summer-like conditions during winter. The vegetables sown in summer are then cultivated in these tunnels during winter. The entire farming area is covered by transparent polythene sheath fixed over D-shaped bamboos or steel pipes. The soil is also covered with black coloured polythene sheath with small holes in which the seeds are sown.

With the passage of time, Tunnel farming is finally getting attention of the provincial government. The technology not only helps produce the crop at least two months earlier than the traditional cultivation season, it also saves the crop from all sorts of severe weather and handling related wastes.

According to an estimate, tunnel farming covers more than 200,000 acres of land in Punjab.  In June 2015, the Punjab government signed a cooperation deal with a Turkish firm that envisages Turkish support in five specific areas of agriculture, including tunnel farming.

Tunnel farming technology gives much higher produce of vegetables than those grown in open fields. Besides, their quality is also better because of direct intake of nutrients via feeding tubes.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2018. 

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