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Plasticulture Technology for Vegetable Cultivation: A Key for Drudgery

Reduction of Farm-Women
Dr. S.S. Lakhawat
Asstt. Prof., AICRP on APA,
CTAE, MPUAT, Udaipur (Raj.)
Introduction
The seemingly simple act of removing the husks from maize cobs by hand is tougher than it
sounds. A female worker uses her fingertips on average 522 times, her fingernails 144 times and
her palms 55 times for every single kilogram of grain she produces, according to a survey carried
out last year by India's Ministry of Agriculture.
Women whether young or old, healthy or sick can be found across the developing world
working long hours without rest. They pick tea, process tobacco, shell cotton pods, spread
fertilizers on fields and transplant rice.
In the developed world, this work is usually done by machines. But in poor countries, much of
the labour is done by hand and a woman's hand at that.
India can send up ten satellites in a single launch in different orbits. The science and
technology capacity that we have is enormous. And yet when it comes to problems that women
face, there's a huge silence, there is a huge indifference.
Can technology rescue women farm workers from drudgery?
In fact, drudgery is termed for hard work, monotony, time consuming, and use of traditional tools
with inappropriate working posture in field. So, one way of reduction of drudgery can be through
quantifying the particular field operation. For example, if work is being performed by a farm
women with traditional tools in bending/ squatting posture, which was reduced by providing
women friendly farm equipment (equipment assessed/developed considering genderperspective). So the physiological workload of same work by both the methods will b evaluated
and assessed based on output. To further add the work, a subjective scale can also be used for
performance as well as their feedback. In combination to these, drudgery can be assessed in
quantifiable term.
Drudgery can be reduced by providing gender-friendly farm tools and equipment which increase
the productivity of worker with safety and comfort to her. Time scheduling is also needed for
achieving such task.
We are far from easing the drudgery of women farm workers. But there is growing interest in
designing technologies to improve their lives. The drudgery of women's work in agriculture, its
impact on their education, food security, health and productivity, and the potential role of
technology in reducing its effects, were the focus of an international conference in New Delhi in
March 2012.

The meeting was organized by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the Indian
Council of Agricultural Research, and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research
Institutions. More than 700 participants from 50 countries attended the meeting, which took
place in the context of two reports on the role of women in agriculture one in 2010 from the
UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, and the other from the World Bank, released in 2011.
The UN report estimates that women contribute 47 per cent of global agricultural labour. But this
international average is misleading. In many countries it is far higher; in Lesotho, Mozambique
and Sierra Leone, for example, women carry more than 60 per cent of the agricultural workload.
In Egypt women make up less than half of the agricultural workforce but account for 85 per cent
of unpaid farm labour.
The nature of women's manual labour has changed little in many developing countries for
centuries, either because technologies and innovations haven't catered to their particular needs, or
because they are inaccessible or unaffordable. So part of the challenge of tackling the agricultural
drudgery endured by women is in changing ingrained cultural attitudes. For example, women are
often denied access to equipment, such as blacksmith and carpentry tools, which would make
their work easier and less physically taxing. "The rate of technological change in the tasks that
men perform has been much faster as compared to women".
Given the male-bias of tool-use, the Delhi conference heard of the need to tailor technologies to
meet the needs of female agricultural workers and to make them cheap enough for women to
access. These could include farm machines that take account of the different needs and capacities
of women's bodies, catering to their typically lower mass and muscle strength, postural
differences, load-bearing and lung-breathing capacity, and oxygen consumption rates.
Horticulture has emerged as sustainable and viable ventures especially for small and marginal
farmers. However, attempts are underway to make horticulture more and more remunerative at
the cost of per unit input used and resources utilized in course of harvesting the produce.
Hastened use efficiency of inputs synergizing more 'harvest while restoring overall health of soil
and environment and maximizing return has been focused attention in horticultural research and
development nowadays. Accordingly, initiatives are being undertaken to popularize Plasticulture
Technology/Hi-tech horticulture.
Hi-Tech Horticulture
A capital intensive less environmental dependent farming where increase productivity with
maintain the quality by the use of improved or genetically modified crops and its varieties, time
and space dimensions for inputs and resources utilization along with, use of micro-irrigation
system, use of plastics, protected cultivation, precision farming, high density planting, integrated
pest management, (IPM), mechanization , value addition etc. are important factors influence the
growth, yield and quality of the crops..

Definition of Hi-Tech Horticulture


The term hi-tech agriculture/horticulture was coined in recent years. However, there is no
standard definition for this. The Department of Agriculture and Co-operation in February 1999
defined Hi-tech agriculture/horticulture as any agriculture/horticultural technology, which is
modern, less environment dependent, capital intensive and has the capacity to improve the
productivity and quality of any agricultural or horticultural crop.
Use of plastics in agriculture
Use of plastics in agriculture is widely referred to as plasticulture. Plastic is used invariably in
production and post-harvest handling of horticultura1 produce. Green house, net house,
nurseries, roof top gardening, off-season cultivation, mulching, micro-irrigation, propagation,
packaging etc, depend heavily on plastics, Different grades of plastic material are in use. Low
Density Polyethylene (LDPE), High Density Polyethylene (HOPE) pipes for drip irrigation,
plastic sheets of varying thickness for mulch, ultra violet (UV) radiation film for cladding in
greenhouse etc. are some common grade of plastic. Plastic culture offers many benefits
minimized maintenance of the system, efficient management of water and energy, minimized
temperature and moisture fluctuations, better nutrient application, minimized wastage, controlled
soil erosion etc. Even though, leaving micro-irrigation aside, use of plastics in horticulture is
very much restricted.
Use of plastics in horticulture
Use of plastics has proved beneficial to promote the judicious utilization of natural resources like
soil, water, sunlight and temperature.
Why Plasticulture Technology?

To protect the plants against biotic and a-biotic stress.

To create suitable micro-climate inside the growing structure.

To increased production, productivity and quality per unit area.

Contents of Plasticulture Technology:

Pro-tray nursery raising technology

Poly tunnels technology

Polyhouse technology

Poly-mulching technology

Shade net technology

Insect proof net technology

Anti hail net technology

Staking technology

Rain Water harvesting technology

Drip irrigation technology

Micro-Sprinkler irrigation technology

Mist/ fogger technology

Merits of Plasticulture Technology:

Increased yield and Quality

Minimized pest & disease incidence

Used any time or Market demand based

Helps in drudgery reduction

Helpful to breeding works

Increased employment or livelihood

Beneficial for marginal or Peri-urban farmers

Play a key role to IPM, INM and Organic produced

Major hindrance of Plasticulture Technology:

Hi-cost cultivation

Lack of materials availability

Lack of technical knowledge

Long pay-back period

Additional maintenance cost

Protected cultivation
It is also called as green house cultivation. We know main constrained in field cultivation of the
crops are adverse climate if grow the crop under protected condition gave crop round the year. In
protected cultivation, attempt is made to avert incompatibility of climate using artificial means
and its benefit is harnessed in terms of harvesting produce out of their normal growing season.
Demand of a particular produce all the year round has provided due back-up to the protected
cultivation. Green house cultivation was adopted in USA and Europe during 19th century. At
present, China and Japan are leading countries in protected cultivation. Besides these,
Netherland, Israel, Egypt, Spain, Canada are another important countries where protected
cultivation is widely practiced. Green house is a framed or inflated structure constructed using

glass or plastic material in which growing environment is controlled suitably to grow the crops.
With boom in retail sector, protected cultivation is catching fast momentum in India. High value
low volume crops are preferential for green house. A variety of vegetables, short duration-short
growing fruits and flowers have been found suitable for green house cultivation. Strawberry,
capsicum, baby-corn, tomato, cucumber, rose, gerbera, chrysanthemum, cactus, anthurium,
orchids etc. are under cultivation in green house. The crop grown under remains protected from
wind and rains also. Such condition favors harvest of good quality. Green house hastens maturity
of the crops, increases yield, improves quality and in many instances reduces the load of insects
and pests. However, high investment incurred on in erecting green house is major bottleneck in
popular adoption of green house technology. The technology being worth increasing yield by as
high as 300'per cent, it needs due adoption.

Micro-irrigation (drip irrigation or trickle irrigation)


The term micro-irrigation implies to application of water to the plants by drippers/emitters. At
present many modification of micro-irrigations are available and micro-sprinklers, micro-jets,
micro-tube, misters, foggers, micro-jets, fat-jets etc. are some of them. This technology has been
found of worth increasing productivity by 30-100 per cent while saving water to the extent of
70%. To enhance water use efficiency and to fulfill rising demand of irrigation water, microirrigation is gelling popularity. Drip irrigation has got maximum coverage under fruit crops
(35%) followed by plantation crops (18.5%). In fruits maximum area is under, banana, grape,
followed by mango, pomegranate etc. About 300 lakh ha area has been brought under microirrigation.