Polyhouse farming as rural entrepreneurship : Experience of Telangana state polyhouse farmers

Abstract :

Villages are backbone of the country and majority of population lives in villages. Village or rural industries play an important role in the national economy, particularly in the rural development. Changing climatic conditions is the major challenge faced by the farmers to produce the food for growing population. Rapid growth in industrialization and urbanization has reduced the cultivable land. Technological innovations in the agriculture sector has reduced input cost with profitable yields and filling the farmers pockets all through the year. Poly house is a major innovation supported by the state governments by providing subsidy in establishing the structure. The poly house farming requires less water (per drop More crop) and good planning, management skills in order to fetch profits. The area under poly house cultivation is increasing since formation of the Telangana state. The poly house farming has become Rural entrepreneurship generating employment opportunities in the rural areas with low capital cost and raising the real income of the people. The study finds out prospects of poly house as rural entrepreneurship in relation with the Gandhian theory and model and analyse the farmer level of understanding the technology, managing cultivation process. The study also reveals farmer's strategy in linking up market and the government role in implementing Polyhouse subsidy scheme in the state of Telangana.

Keywords :
Polyhouse, Rural Entrepreneurship, technology, subsidy, rural industries
Introduction :

The climate change has both positive and negative effects on the farming community. The positive effects such as new and advanced innovation of technology for coping the climate change situation for achieving sustainable agriculture. Negative effects are the decrease in area under cultivation and increased input cost. The Government has to make an intervention in the agriculture and its allied sectors for encouraging farmers to continue the agriculture occupation. The Government is presently encouraging the farmers for implementing the technology for cultivation at an affordable price by decreasing farmer's burden on input cost.

Indicators of Rural Development :

ACDA (Ibid) identified the following indicators of rural development,

  • Increase in agricultural productivity,
  • Increase in rural employment,
  • Equitable distribution of wealth and income,
  • Fair distribution of power and influence and participation in decision making,
  • Removal of social barriers to have access to public facilities,
  • Welfare indicators such as levels in literacy, schooling, mortality rate, life expectancy, rural roads, electrification and level of nutrition, and
  • Change in the values, beliefs and attitudes of people.

United Nations (1996) made the following suggestions for the successful implementation of rural development programmes.
1) Adopt institutional arrangements that promote collaboration and cooperation among key agencies and interests; build consensus, educate the public through community level campaign and mobilize local resources.
2) Adopt the concept of “think globally, act locally”.
3) Emphasize the role of partnership agreement – strengthening business and industry involvement and accountability.
4) Promote public participation in the planning and decision-making process with special reference to women and community based organizations.
5) Facilitate information dissemination, education, etc.

State of Agriculture in Telangana

The Economy of Telangana is mainly driven by agriculture. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the economy of the state and the better performance of this sector is vital for inclusive growth. Sustainable growth in Agriculture continues to be core agenda of the Government and occupies center stage in state economy embodying three thrust areas viz., (i) to promote inclusive growth, (ii) to enhance rural income, and (iii) to sustain food security. About 55.49 percent of the State's population is dependent on some form or the other on farm activity for livelihoods. The share of agriculture to state GSDP in 2014-15 is 9.3 percent at current prices. The pressure on agricultural land is ever increasing for industrialization, urbanization, housing, infrastructure and others. All these factors are forcing for conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. The scope for expansion of the area available for cultivation is coming down to that extent, ultimately decrease in net area sown. Paddy is the major food crop and staple food of the state. Other important crops grown are Maize, Jowar, Red gram, Green gram, Bengal gram, Groundnut, Soya bean, Mango, Cotton, Chillies, Sugarcane etc., and agriculture has been the chief source of income for the state's economy. During 2013-14, production of total food grains was recorded at 107.49 lakh tonnes. Of the total food grains production, production of cereals and millets was 102.78 lakh tonnes, pulses 4.71 lakh tonnes. Production of oil seeds was 8.81 lakh tonnes, Chillies 2.80 lakh tonnes, Turmeric 2.52 lakh tonnes etc.

The total geographical area of the State is 112.07 lakh hectares, of which the area under forest cover is 27.43 lakh hectares, constituting 23.89% of the land. About 43.20% area is under cultivation (49.61 lakh hectares), 8.36% is current fallow lands (9.60 lakh hectares), 7.79% of land is put to non-agricultural uses (8.95 lakh hectares), 5.36% is barren and uncultivable (6.15 lakh hectares) and 6.24% falls under other fallows (7.17 lakh hectares). The remaining 5.16% is under culturable waste, permanent pastures and other grazing lands, and land under miscellaneous tree crops and groves are not included in the net area sown (5.93 lakh hectares).

The Government of Telangana is encouraging horticulture sector for more income for less input cost. The Horticulture has over the years emerged as an indispensible part of agriculture by offering wide range of crop diversification choices to farmers and providing opportunities to semi skilled and unskilled labour force. The total cropped area under Horticulture crops with 7.39 Lakh hectares constitutes 22% of the net sown area of Telangana state. Within horticulture crops fruits, vegetables and spices constitutes close to 95 percent of the area. However, the productivity levels of vegetables around 17 MT per Ha is lower when compared to southern state like Tamil Nadu which had recorded productivity levels of 30 MT per Ha. Government of Telangana state is making serious efforts to promote productivity of horticulture crops to bridge the demand supply gap for vegetables and to provide maximum returns to the farmers & generate employment. Promotion of protected cultivation of vegetables and standardization of package of practices of specific targeted crops and developing low cost technology encouraging farmers to take up poly-houses even on small holdings are the priority intervention areas. Hon'ble Chief Minister has announced the scheme for construction of Green Houses in 1000 Acres every year.

The United Nations defines Rural Development as :

Rural Development is a process of change, by which the efforts of the people themselves are united, those of government authorities to improve their economic, social and cultural conditions of communities in to the life of the nation and to enable them to contribute fully to national programme. Rural Development is a process of bringing change among rural community from the traditional way of living to progressive way of living. It is also expressed as a movement for progress.

Establishment of Green/Polyhouses is a flagship programme in Telangana launched during 2014-15 with 75% subsidy and during 2016-17, it is being implemented with 95% subsidy for SC & ST category farmers.

Highlights of the scheme :
  • The scheme is implemented under Normal State Plan scheme in the entire state for vegetables and flowers.
  • Beneficiaries are eligible up to min. of 200 sq.mts and max. of 12000 sq. mts (3.00 acres) and preferably farmers small farmers with 0.5 to 1.0 acre area.
  • Under 95 % subsidy, maximum limit is 1.00 acre under polyhouses and shade net houses and under mulching each farmer is eligible for a max. limit of 1 acre.
  • The farmers are given choice for selection under empanelled companies and registered companies.
  • So far 38 companies were registered under the programme for speedy implementation in addition to earlier 6 empanelled companies.
Action Plan – 2016-17 :
  • It is proposed to implement Shade net Houses and Mulching besides Polyhouses during 2016-17 under State Plan schemes.
  • Budget allocated for the above components is Rs.199.50 crores.
    • Polyhouses – Rs.193.50 crores (75% subsidy for General farmers and 95% for SC & ST farmers)
    • Shadenet Houses – Rs.5.00 crores (only for SC &ST farmers with 95% subsidy)
    • Mulching – Rs.1.00 crore (only for SC & ST farmers with 95% subsidy)
Unit Cost and subsidy pattern for Polyhouses, Shade net Houses & Mulching
Polyhouse - Pattern of Assistance
i) Construction of Polyhouse ii) Plant material – Vegetables & Flowers
Shade Net Houses :

Pattern of Assistance (95% subsidy for SC & ST farmer with max. limit of 1 acre per farmer, depending on the district demand the extent of sanction may come down)

Note : A proposal for approval of flat roof net house with cable purlin with a unit cost of Rs.560/- per sq.mt for 95% subsidy is submitted to Government, instead of above slab wise unit cost. Approval is awaited.

Mulching :

Pattern of Assistance (95% subsidy for SC & ST farmer with max. limit of 1 acre per farmer)

Achievements :
  • Since, inception of the programme, during 2014-15, administrative sanctions were issued as on today for an area of 987 acres.
  • Out of the total 987 acres, planting was done in around 408 acres and the remaining area is under different stages of installation.
  • During 2016-17, admin. Sanctions were already issued for an area of 207 acres and execution is under various stages.
Literature Review

Adhrit Chandra Pati Tripathi and K.V. Nagaraj (2014) in the paper Exploring Gandhian Communication for Sustainable Rural Development in India has highlighted the role of Gandhian communication as part and parcel of human life, articulating their grievances on local problems. It attempts to explore the Gandhian model of development and examines the relevance or irrelevance of the same in the New World Order.

Anupam Hazra (2014) in the paper The Saga of boosting Rural Development in India has found the Government's rural development programmes had absence of proper planning efficient delivery systems, which did not benefit the target groups. The author also analysed the situation of agricultural growth in the country and farmers state of being in poverty.

Arpita Sharma (2013) in the article Government initiatives in Rural Employment has given the various schemes introduced by the Government for rural India. The author has also presented the information on employment in informal sector, initiatives by training institutes and training given for skill development of rural population. Brijesh Patel and Kirit Chavda (2013) in the paper Rural Entrepreneurship in India: Challenge and Problems makes an attempt to find out the Problems and Challenges for the potentiality of Rural Entrepreneurship. It also focuses on the major problems faced by rural entrepreneurs especially in the fields of Marketing of products, financial amenities and other primary amenities, i.e. availability of electricity, water supply, transport facilities and required energy etc. Deepa Roy and A.K. Bandyopadhyay (2014) in the paper Farmer's Perception Regarding the Effect of Climate Change in Farming System it was found that all farmers (100%) express their views that, for changing cropping diversity, construction of poly house with the technical and financial support by Govt. sector, which will protect the different commercial crop from different hazards, control of the different insect and pest whose infestation rate is increasing day by day, they need proper training to overcome the said problem.

Nuti Namita (2014) in the paper Gandhi's vision of Development : relevance for 21st century has conferred that the development through state apparatus is rational and acceptable among the individuals of society. The author also brings the Mahatma's opinion regarding the power of the state to influence growth and bring transformation.

Shaheena Bano (2016) in an analytical study on Gandhian Strategies of Rural Development has revealed that the concept of development has become important as newly independent countries have tried to develop themselves following their perception of development. The author has brought in various strategies and approaches of development in light with the Gandhian approach to development. The concept of 'small industry small city model'which encourages decentralized production system creating opportunities of jobs for rural unemployed youths.

Poonam Singh(2015)in the article attempted to characterize the rural development approach evolved in Gandhian Philosophy and explained its significance in this globalised era. The series of ideas stemming from Gandhi have provided the theoretical ground for hundreds of thousands of grass root development activities all over the world. The study concluded that the Gandhian model would be much reliable to reduce the gap between the well-offs and havenots, instead of replicating the Western models of economic development.

Sonal Singh and Bhaskar Bhowmick (2015) in their paper described the conceptualization of rural innovation in rural Indian context based on field survey. The main objective was to find out the variables of rural innovation from literature review and to identify the factors of rural innovation by analyzing empirical data. The field survey revealed that there are three factors of rural innovation include knowledge sharing for enhancing economic efficiency, new learning for economic scale up and new skill development for economic scope. Moreover, the study allows for the implication to be made for rural entrepreneurship development.

H D Dwaraka Nath (2013) in his paper the strategies for employment generation in rural India has contended that the problem of unemployment in rural india can be eradicated by increasing productivity of dry land agriculture, accelerating the tempo of rural industrialization and by developing infrastructure and marketing facilities for growth of non agricultural activities.

Harender Raj Gautam and M L Bhardwaj (2013) in the paper new arenas in rural employment has focused on the need to make farming more profitable, strengthening of MNREG Act and also strengthening of vocational institutes in rural areas.

Jayabal and soundarya (2016) in the paper focused on opportunities and challenges of rural entrepreneurship in India. The authors has pointed the role of rural entrepreneurs,and stressed on the rural entrepreneurs needs to be motivated to take up entrepreneurship as a career, with training and sustaining support systems providing all necessary assistance.

R.K.Yadav et al(2014)in the paper Low-Cost Polyhouse Technologies For Higher Income and Nutritional Security has found that to enhance income and to ensure nutritional security of the small and marginal farmers, off-season nursery as well as vegetables cultivation under low cost poly houses is found to be economical and profitable enterprise.

Kushalakshi and Raghurama (2012)in the paper Rural Entrepreneurship: A Catalyst for Rural Development has analysed that Rural entrepreneurship is not only important as a means of generating employment opportunities in the rural areas with low capital cost and raising the real income of the people, but also its contribution to the development of agr i cul tur e and urban indus t r i e s . Rur a l entrepreneurship can be considered one of the solutions to reduce poverty, migration, economic disparity, unemployment and develop rural areas and backward regions.

Promila Dahiya and et al has conducted a study on Polyhouse: An alternative Farming has found the status of polyhouse in Hisar district of Haryana State. The information regarding type of polyhouses and subsidy by Central and State Government were studied during research work. Cost of operation and benefits were calculated on specific polyhouses.

Ugra Moha Jha & Naresh Jha ( 2008) in the paper the Economics of Rural Development has given various meanings, definitions and dimensions of rural development in economic point of view. The authors have given the theories and stressed on the Gandhian theory and model for rural development.

Urban and Olson (2005) proposed a Comprehensive Employment Model that includes human capital, individual, and community factors. The Comprehensive Employment Model widens the lens of examining the influences of obtaining and maintaining employment by including the barriers to the development of human capital, such as physical and mental health issues and the family environment.

Yesu Suresh Raj and Muthupandi (2016) in the paper Gandhian approach to rural development has given the dimensions of rural development which means maximum production of Agriculture and allied activities in the rural areas, including development of rural industries and cottage industries. They contended that the Gandhiji wanted to bring about rural reconstruction implementation of 18 point programme.


The purpose of the study is to understand how far the polyhouse cultivation is providing employment opportunities to the rural population and whether the poly house farmers are finding the cultivation profitable or not.

Objective of the paper

The study finds out prospects of poly house as rural entrepreneurship in relation with the Gandhian theory and model and analyse the farmer level of understanding the technology, managing cultivation process. The study also reveals farmer's strategy in linking up market and the government role in implementing Polyhouse subsidy scheme in the state of Telangana.


The research is descriptive in nature the collection of data played an important role in analyzing the facts of the study.

Sample and Data Collection

The purposive sample was choosen to understand the polyhouse cultivation and marketing feasibility of various crops. Primary data was collected from the polyhouse farmers, interaction with the Department of Horticulture staff and secondary data about the background of the scheme from the Department. The primary data is collected from the farmers who have got sanctions in 2014- 15 and also completed the construction in the state of Telangana under the scheme of Poly house construction. The sample of 50 farmers was selected randomly from the list of farmers who were sanctioned poly house subsidy during the year 2014-15.

Theoretical Framework
Gandhian Model of Rural Development.

Gandhiji's approach to India's rural development was holistic and people centered. The Gandhian model of rural development is based on some values and premises as follows :
1) Real India is found not in cities but in its villages.
2) The revival of villages is possible only when the exploitation of villages is stopped. Exploitation of villages by city dwellers was “violence” in Gandhiji's opinion.
3) Simple living and high thinking implying voluntary reduction of materialistic wants and pursuit of moral and spiritual principles of life.
4) Dignity of labour, everyone must earn his bread by physical labour and one who labours must necessarily get his subsistence.
5) Preference to the use of indigenous (Swadeshi) products, services and institutions.
6) Balance between the ends and means. From the above analysis it becomes clear that, the various paradigms and hypothesis of development are covered in the model, provide many valuable insights into the processes and determinants of rural development. The most suitable model for India rural development is a people centered strategy, akin to Gandhian model.

Gandhian View for Self –Sufficient Rural Economy

According to Gandhi every person should be provided with basic necessaries i.e. food, shelter, and clothing. He also opined that an increase in personal income is an indication of the growth of national income. But the opposite may not be true i.e. the growth of national income may not always benefit every man in society. He also said that agricultural sector alone cannot solve the problem of rural poverty and unemployment. So he gives stress on the growth of the rural industries like khadi, handlooms, sericulture and handicrafts. He opines that large-scale industries make people lazy and help concentration of wealth in the hands of few. On the contrary, rural industries are based on family labour and required less amount of capital. Raw materials are also collected from local markets and the goods thus produced are sold in the local markets. Therefore there is no problem of production and market. Gandhiji wanted diversified economic activities in the villages and thus stood for all round development of rural India.

Poly house cultivation - an alternative to rural entrepreneurship

The poly house cultivation is the new technological advancement in the agriculture scenario. Changing climatic conditions are forcing the farmers to be away from the agriculture occupation. The polyhouse cultivation is promoted by the State Government of Telangana along with Horticulture crops. The horticulture crops give good yield and generate profits under protected cultivation. The farmer living in the village can avail Government subsidy to establish the structure. The state Government of Telangana is providing 75% subsidy for General farmers and 95% for SC & ST farmers. The input cost for the farmer going for polyhouse cultivation is low and affordable. Different types of vegetables and fruits which are imported can be produced indigenously. According to Gandhi's view the village should be self sufficient and provide employment opportunities. The poly house cultivation is providing employment to rural youth by becoming entrepreneurs and also the labour can work hours together in a shade ambience without any health problems. The produce of the polyhouse is sold in the local and also open market, and farmers who are well advanced in technology link up can sell the produce through online by exporting to different places. The water usage in the polyhouse structure is through micro irrigation and the rain water falling on the structure is also diverted to the farm pond which is utilized for the irrigation. The poly house structure managing alone by the farmer is very comfortable with proper support from the technical staff of horticulture department and also scientists in the relevant field. The risk of crop loss is very low and the farmer gets support from the government in establishing the structure, supplying plant material, mulching, drip equipment, expert training and suggestions.

Results and Analysis

  • About 90% has the main occupation as agriculture
  • Since 2 years the farmers are cultivating through polyhouse and the crops chosen are fetching good profits if they are planned according to the market requirements.
  • 100% of the farmers have got training on cultivation practices in poly house with the support of the State Government
  • The poly house is managed by the farmer and his family members. And the farmers provide employment to minimum of 5 individuals for operating the daily operations at the polyhouse. During the crop cutting period the labour are required daily and the amount paid to the labour on weekly basis.
  • About 50% of the farmers have got the financial support from the bank and remaining farmers have borrowed money from the money lender or from relatives to establish the polyhouse structure apart from Government subsidy.
  • The farmers used to manage the amount through money lender mostly and borrowed from relative if the private loan was not available.
  • Experience of the farmer who availed loan from the financial institution (Rated from 1 to 5, with 1 being worst and 5 Excellent) :

    Reason for choosing polyhouse cultivation (Rated from 1 to 5, with 1 being worst and 5 Excellent):

    All the farmers sell the produce of the crop cultivated in the polyhouse to the nearby open market and only 5% of them export to other states. The open market is between 20 to 35 kilometers from the cultivation area. All the farmers maintain records of crop produce and financial transactions related to polyhouse and no farmer advertises their produce. During the last 24 months the polyhouse business has improved somewhat. In about one year the savings are accumulated. There are no regular customers for buying the produce it is just sold in the open market at the price prevailing during that particular day. The irrigation is done through borewell and since a year the Government is promoting farm ponds which is helpful for storing rain water and also the water in the gutters of the polyhouse is diverted to the farm pond and irrigated to the polyhouse crop through drip and sprinklers. If the farmers have queries regarding poly house cultivation the farmers contact horticulture department officials and also scientists. All the polyhouses are insured with the insurance company as the cost of the structure is 40 lakhs. There are no maintenance problems in polyhouse cultivation and polyhouse farming earns better income compared to the open cultivation as the crop is well protected and taken care with the required climatic conditions, hence the quantity produced by each crop increases. No farmer has faced any crop damage due to pests or insects and also due to wrong cultivation practice as the Department of Horticulture staff inspect periodically and also the scientists give suggestions and inputs by conducting trainings through the support of the state Government. The extension Horticulture Officers extend the technical support and information for polyhouse cultivation. The price of the produce is fixed depending on the market price. It is very difficult to store the polyhouse produce but still if there is low market price the farmers can manage to store for day to two. The packaging is done to the gerbera, rose crop by separating each flower with the plastic cover and the packaging is done by the 9farmer itself. About 90% of the farmers think that they are successful and success stories are shown in the regional channels.

    Experience with the company worked in the field (Rate from 1 to 5, with 1 being worst and 5 Excellent) :

    Experience with the Horticulture Department in availing subsidy (Rate from 1 to 5, with 1 being worst and 5 Excellent):


    Poly House is a solution for alternative farming which generates good yield an income for the farming community. The State Government encouraging such scheme reduces the farmer burden on input cost. Poly house farming has low risk for the farmer and gives employment opportunity for the rural mass, there is no scope for seasonal unemployment problem. The farmer gets motivated with the implementation of new technology and usage of advanced technology with reasonable cost. The study also finds out that the Telangana Government has linked up the Hyderabad city surrounding farmers produce with the Mana Kuragayalu (Our Vegetables) kiosks and centers where customers buy directly. PolyHouse farming is providing ample scope for younger generation to cultivate variety of crops indegineously and finally reaching the goal of self sufficiency. The research also provides a way for further research on economics in polyhouse cultivation, young population in poly house cultivation, how to achieve rural self sufficiency through poly house cultivation and soon. It is interesting to note that the Government of Telangana under protected cultivation is promoting Walk-in- Tunnels (total cost of structure is 7.5lakhs) with the same technology of Poly house which can be established with very minimum budget for the farmers who can afford for very less budget.

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