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While on the one hand bamboo, a grass, is strong, versatile and a highly renewable material which grows quick and easy, it is a labour-intensive product and helps create jobs and income.  While most building materials are industry-produced, bamboo links agriculture to the construction sector.
- S.K. Pandey, retired forester, currently working as adviser to TERI andNMBA
In News

Horticulture: Lower-cost greenhouses could bring in more converts
THE INDIAN EXPRESS (July 19, 2006)

GREENHOUSES or poly-houses as they are popularly known could soon percolate down to the masses. Against the conventional greenhouse spanning one acre costing over Rs 10 lakh, the new version will cost below Rs 4 lakh. While it may not quite take horticulture to the poor farmers, the cheaper version could bring in more conventional farmers into the poly-farming fold.

The greenhouse prototype devised by Pune-based entrepreneur Rajesh Edke has bamboo instead of steel frames holding together the superstructure. Edke has already set up 11 such Polyhouses for dewdrops Agritech at Talegaon near Pune and is eyeing an international patent for his invention.

Says Girish Sannappanavar, director of Dewdrops Agritech, "While a regular greenhouse with steel frameworks spread over one acre would cost over Rs 10 lakhs to make, the one's here have been made for close to Rs 4 lakhs each. And they are as sturdy, reliablr and much more economical than the conventional greenhouses."

According to Edke, the framework of his Polyhouses use bamboos reinforced with steel at the base. "The temperature within the Polyhouse is reduced by at least 2 to 3 degree Celsius, as bamboo, unlike steel, is a poor conductor of heat," says Edke. Also, this reduces the dependence on large air conditioners, usually installed in greenhouse to lower the temperature.

Horticulture is all about controlling temperature-the lower the temperature, the better the productivity and quality of the fruit, flower or vegetable. With Edke's design, temperature in the greenhouse would settle between 20 t0 30 degrees Celsius, vital for growing flowers like roses and gerberas. "Moreover, while the steel-framed Polyhouses can only be constructed on a level ground, the bamboo ones can be constructed on land with a maximum gradient of 25 feet, over one acre. Typically, leveling uneven land costs Rs 100 per sq ft. For a small farmer, this cost is often untenable," adds Edke.

The life of polythene sheets, which usually lasts for two years, would also be doubled using this technology, points out Edke.