: The concept of rain shelters for round-the-year cultivation of vegetables is growing popular in the district with even individual home-owners eagerly adopting the practice though government now offers financial assistance only to those setting up units that are over 100 sq.m.
Information from the Department of Agriculture is that Ernakulam district has been sanctioned 28 rain shelters of 100 sq.m. each.
And Rs. 5 lakh has been sanctioned towards subsidy for the units that cost Rs. 50,000 per piece. These units have evenly been distributed in the 15 blocks of the district, said an official.
The government subsidy apart, effort by officials of the department of agriculture has seen home-owners, who face space constraint, taking to the concept eagerly.
More than 100 homes have adopted vegetable cultivation using rain shelters within the Corporation of Cochin area, said an official.
Similar interest has been shown by people living in other parts of the district.
People are experimenting with rain shelter vegetable cultivation in Pallippuram panchayat, said an official. Most of them are building the rain shelters on terraces because of the lack of space.
A department of agriculture official said that rain shelters came much cheaper than high-tech polyhouses, which had mostly caught the fancy of professional farmers in a big way in the State. While high-tech polyhouses have been used mostly for high value crops, rain shelters are easy to build and maintain and are handy for cultivating vegetables of everyday use.
Promotion of vegetable cultivation using rain shelters has been taken up in the State under the Vegetable Development Programme 2014-15 with a total outlay of Rs. 1 crore to foot the subsidy bill.
They are meant to protect vegetable crops from extreme weather conditions like heat and rain.
The concept is being promoted to strengthen family farming as well as to cut down on dangerous pesticides widely used in commercial cultivation of food crops. Rain shelters are naturally ventilated and are similar to green houses, made using GI pipes or wooden or bamboo poles with roofs made up of transparent UV-stabilised low density polyethylene film.