These Small Greenhouses Are Helping Farmers In India Combat Climate Change

Farmers in India have struggled with rising temperatures that lead to less crop yields. It's generated crippling debts and, sadly, suicides at an alarming rate. To combat this, a startup is creating affordable greenhouses and services for higher farming efficiency.


May 20 2019, Updated 4:40 p.m. ET

Over the years, rising temperatures in India have created droughts and impacted crop growth. It’s led to farmers racking up crippling debt that’s been too much to overcome. Smaller-scale greenhouses that are more affordable has not only helped those woes, but Indian farmers are able to grow more crops than through traditional methods.

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Warming climate conditions have driven India’s farmers to suicide instead of dealing with financial woes that they’re unable to get out of. Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California, determined that higher temperatures correlated with low crop yields and high suicide rates.

In an interview with National Geographic last year, Carleton noted that once 20 degrees Celsius was passed in certain areas, “a one degree increase in a single day’s temperature caused an average of 70 suicides” during crop growth periods. That’s contributed to 59,000 suicides committed by Indian farmers over the last 30 years.

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One solution to combat this disturbing trend is to create a climate that’s more suitable to grow crops. This can be achieved with greenhouses, but traditional models are too costly for many Indian farmers. Smaller greenhouses have been developed by Kheyti, a local non-profit that helps smaller farms cope with tough weather conditions at low investment.

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Kheyti offers a “Greenhouse-in-a-Box” between 258 and 553 square yards. It takes up just a fraction of an owner’s farmland along with coming at a more attractive price. Their website suggests that it’s just half as expensive compared to traditional greenhouses. 50 farmers currently use the product in the villages of Laxmapur and Narayanpur.

Results have been phenomenal for 15 farmers that helped pilot the program for 12 months. According to National Geographic, the majority were able to yield up to eight times more produce in their greenhouses than outside of it. Part of the increase was due to Kheyti offering services to help farmers grow more efficiently and helped with transportation.

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Fast Company explains that field officers visited these small farms frequently to help them grow more efficiently with high-quality seeds and fertilizer. They were able to establish the best areas to sell their yields on the market and provided ongoing training. This year, the company plans to rapidly scale upward and by 2025, they’ve set a goal to reach one million farmers.

Through a collaboration with the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty, Kheyti will provide flexible loans for any income. Even with their special services, climate change is out of Indian farmers’ control. Their solution generates successful farming in extremely difficult circumstances, and rising temperatures will be problem in developing countries for the foreseeable future.

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