Ladakh, known for its harsh winters and a limited cropping window of four to five months, faces challenges with low food production and high prices.

However, the researchers at the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), led by senior scientist Dr Tsering Stobdan, have developed a new model of the Ladakh Greenhouse for local farmers.

The newly developed passive solar model features triple-layer polycarbonate sheets and stone walls, placed three feet below ground.

It uses a transparent UV-stabilised triple-layer polycarbonate panel to cover the greenhouse’s south face and has better heat retention capacity.

It also has a sloped (to the north) Polyurethane Foam (PUF) roof which is durable; has better insulation properties as compared to conventional wooden roofs; and does not allow the growth of molds and fungus.

The government launched it in three different sizes to cater to a farmer’s various needs — commercial, medium, and domestic, with approximate costs ranging from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 9.5 lakh as per the size.

“During the installation process, the farmer’s job is only to construct the walls. The department has to provide cladding materials (polycarbonate sheets), frames, doors, windows, ventilators, etc,” explains Tsetan, the chief agricultural officer of UT (Union Territory) Ladakh.

The temperature inside these greenhouses remains above freezing, even in December and January, enabling farmers to cultivate crops throughout the year.

“A variety of crops have been successfully grown inside the greenhouse during winter months — cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, knol-khol, tomato and even mushroom,” says Dr Tsering Stobdan.

“Our target is to ensure locals have access to green vegetables during the peak winter season. We have seen in these greenhouses that when the temperature outside is -30 degrees Celsius, inside it’s 10 degrees Celsius,” he adds.

The Ladakh UT administration’s target is to establish 1,000 greenhouses in Ladakh, including Leh and Kargil districts, in the next two years.