Karnataka

Iceberg lettuce in drylands of Kalaburagi?

Raju Teggalli (extreme left), head of Kalaburagi’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra, along with scientists and students inside the shade-net where exotic vegetables are being grown .

Raju Teggalli (extreme left), head of Kalaburagi’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra, along with scientists and students inside the shade-net where exotic vegetables are being grown .  

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Scientists are experimenting to see if foreign crops can thrive in this environment

If agricultural scientists in Kalaburagi succeed in an experiment they are carrying out, farmers of this dry northern district could soon be growing exotic vegetables such as iceberg lettuce and broccoli in their farms.

To help farmers of the backward district get better income, scientists of Kalaburagi’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) are experimenting if high-income yielding foreign crop varities can thrive in this environment. In the first phase, they have imported five exotic vegetable seeds — iceberg lettuce, straight lettuce, cherokee lettuce, broccoli and red cabbage — from the Netherlands and planted them on the campus.

“These vegetable seeds can be produced only in cold environments, in areas with less than 20 degrees Celsius temperature. But, they can be grown in Indian conditions during winter. We have planted half of these seeds inside the shade-net and remaining outside. We are giving organic fertilizer and water to both. If there is not much difference between those grown inside and outside, we will recommend the farmers to grow them outside the net so that the shade-net costs too can be saved,” Vasudev Naik, a horticulture scientist, told The Hindu.

The scientists have formed a couple of teams for a survey to assess the marketing potential of the new vegetables.

“Domestically grown cabbages and cauliflowers are sold at around ₹25 a kg or less as compared to ₹80 a kg that red cabbage and broccoli are sold at. Iceberg lettuce is sold at over ₹200 a kg. These are supplied from faraway places to Kalaburagi market in limited quantity,” Akshata Biradar, a student who participated in the market survey, said.

Scientists feel that the experiment could pave way for better utilisation of shade-net and polyhouse farming in the region. “The government is offering subsidies for shade-net, polyhouse and drip-irrigation equipment. But farmers are failing to use them,” Raju Teggalli, a senior scientist and the head of Kalaburagi KVK, said.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 5:32:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/iceberg-lettuce-in-drylands-of-kalaburagi/article25874659.ece

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