Kurukshetra March 2024

Chapter 1- Adoption of Digital and Innovative Farming Techniques

  • The present decade has been witnessing the emergence of a ‘digital agricultural revolution’ as the latest transformation, due to addressing the challenges of agriculture and the food sector by a growing population.
  • To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal of a ‘world with zero hunger’ by 2030, the existing agrifood system must be transformed into one that is more productive, sustainable, efficient, and resilient.
  • Digital Agriculture has the potential to generate economic benefits by increasing agricultural output, improving cost efficiency, and expanding market prospects.
  • Digital agriculture benefits the environment by improving resource utilization and promoting climate change adoption.
  • India ranks first in the production of milk, jute, and pulses, and second in wheat, rice, groundnut, vegetables, fruits, cotton, and sugarcane production.
  • It is also one of the largest producers of fish, livestock, poultry, spices, and plantation crops.
  • While output is not the most serious issue in Indian agriculture, small holdings lead to insufficient revenue for farmers.

Digital Agriculture is“ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and data ecosystemsto support the development and delivery of timely, targeted information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable while delivering safe nutritious and affordable food for all.”

Innovative Farming Practices

  • These are more sustainable, efficient, and resilient. It brings a remarkable transformation through the combination of cutting-edge technologies and novel approaches.
  • Some of the emerging farming practices are-
  1. Precision Agriculture- It is a management approach that involves collecting, processing, and analysing temporal, spatial, and individual data by utilising Global Positioning System (GPS), sensors, drones, and data analytics to improve numerous areas of farming.
  2. Smart Farming- It combines Internet of Things (loT) devices with connectivity to form a networked and automated agricultural ecosystem comprised of sensors, actuators, and intelligent equipment that collect and exchange data in real time.
  3. Vertical Farming and Controlled-Environment Agriculture- Vertical farming maximizes land use efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact of traditional farming operations.
  4. Blockchain Technology in Agriculture- It will help in improving transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain.

Digital Farming Techniques

Some important characteristics of digital farming and related techniques are discussed here:

  1. Technologies in Precision Agriculture: A key element of precision agriculture is GPS technology. It enables farmers to plan their fields precisely, which makes it easier for machines to navigate and applies resources in the right places.
  2. Drones- High resolution photographs of fields are taken by drones fitted with cameras and sensors (crop monitoring).
  3. Automated Technology: automated equipment with GPS and sensor technology can carry out operations including planting, harvesting, and ploughing.
  4. Variable Rate Technology (VRT): It enables the application of inputs such as water, herbicides, and fertilisers to a field at different rates.
  5. Smart Irrigation System: Soil moisture sensors are used by smart irrigation systems to calculate the amount and timing of water that crops required.
  6. Data-driven Farm Management: Software will assist farmers in managing several facets of their businesses. Farmers can plan their planting, watering, and harvesting operations with confidence.
  7. Robots for Agricultural Operations: Robotics decreases the need for physical labour while increasing efficiency.
  8. Machine Learning: To forecast crop yields, disease outbreaks, and market trends, machine learning algorithms examine both historical and current data (crop prediction models).
  9. Blockchain: Supply chains may be made transparent and safe with the help of blockchain technology. It will promote consumer confidence in the origin and quality of agricultural products.
  10. Digital Twins: Digital twins create virtual replicas of physical farms. It will also contribute to efficient planning and resource management.

Digital Divide


  • It represents a significant challenge that has far-reaching implications for the equitable adoption and benefits of technological advancements in farming practices.
  • This divide manifests in disparities related to access, connectivity, and technological literacy among various stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
  • Promotion of the FPOs is a potential option to tackle the issue of the digital divide.

Conditions for Digital Transformation

  • The digital transformation of agriculture is influenced by various factors across different contexts.
  • The fundamental conditions necessary for technology utilization encompass availability, connectivity, affordability, integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in education, and the implementation of supportive policies and programmes, such as those related to e-government, to promote digital strategies.
  • Additionally, there are enabling conditions, often referred to as 'enablers, which contribute to the smoother adoption of technologies. These include the widespread use of the internet, mobile phones, and social media etc.

Way Forward-

  • India's National Al Strategy seeks to unlock the economic and societal advantages presented by the technology.
  • It acknowledges agriculture as a key sector for the deployment of Al-driven solutions
  • With the advent of FPOs in India, there is a great opportunity for digital agriculture to cover the whole agricultural value chain.
  • The FPOs facilitate the connection between farmers, their produce, and the market.


Using a comprehensive strategy that incorporates multiple technologies to improve production, sustainability, and efficiency in agriculture is what digital farming entails. Farming appears to have a bright future as long as the agricultural sector adopts these innovations and finds sustainable ways to feed the globe in the years to come.


Chapter 2-Bamboo Farming

  • Bamboo can be grown both as a main crop as well as subsidiary crop.
  • It is an environment-friendly crop, requires less maintenance, and has a variety of diverse uses.
  • It has a fast-growing market where people with higher spending capacity are ready to spend more.

Climate Requirement

  • Bamboo may be grown in a broad range of soil types and climates.
  • Bamboo grows well in valleys, around streams, rivers, ponds, and other sources of water, as well as on the lower slopes of hills.
  • They grow in temperatures between 7°C and 40°C.
  • Rainfall generally encourages bamboo growth, but it also benefits from the combined effects of high temperatures and rainfall.
  • The ideal annual rainfall varies from 1200 mm to 4000 mm.
  • They are temperature-adaptable, withstanding sporadic frosts with lows of -5°C and summer temperatures as high as 45°C. It can spread throughout regions with yearly rainfall ranging from 750 to 4,000 mm.
  • They grow best in soil with a pH range of 5.0 to 6.5, while certain species can tolerate a pH of only 3.5.
  • Their optimal growth of bamboo culms is encouraged by soil that is high in nitrogen, P205, K20, CaO, and Si02.

Manuring and Fertilization-

  • Three essential ingredients of fertilizer are potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
  • Incorporating wood ash, organic compost, and green manures into fertilizer applications maximize yield.
  • NPK composition should be 4:1 or 5:2:1 in normal soil conditions.

Bamboo Uses

Some popular usages of bamboo are as follows-

  1. Fabrication- Bamboo is incredibly light and delicate so it is most appropriate for use in the production of textiles. Bamboo fibre material is naturally glossy and antibacterial. Bamboo fibre fabric is environment-friendly and possesses hydroscopic properties as well.
  2. Bamboo as Medicine: Bamboo has several therapeutic uses. Cold, flu, and other common illnesses like nausea and nasal congestion can all be promptly cured with it.
  3. Bamboo Utensils: Using bamboo cookware is a long-standing and traditional method of cooking food.
  4. Others- Bamboo is also used in the manufacture of musical instruments, cutlery, knife-holders etc.

Economic Contribution of Bamboo to India

  • As per the 2020 data, bamboo held a 35% market share in the industrial goods area.
  • Bamboo's growing contribution and share have resulted in an estimated 5.7% annual growth rate in compound interest.
  • It is now considered a ‘fast-growing market’ because of its increasing rate.
  • Bamboo flooring, pulp, paper, and plywood are among the items that are dominated by bamboo.
  • At 75% of the total revenue, the Asia-Pacific area made the largest contribution. India, China, Vietnam, and Myanmar make up these regions.

Chapter 3- Mushroom Cultivation

  • Mushrooms are edible fungi that grown natural habitats in the wild, on soil, and on wood.
  • Mushroom cultivation is one of the most profitable agriculture entrepreneurs.
  • Integrating mushroom cultivation in the existing farming systems will supplement the income of the farmers and promote proper recycling of agro-residues.
  • Mushrooms can supplement and contribute in achieving nutritional and food security.

Production Scenerio

  • Global mushroom production was 44.2 million tons in 2021 (FAOSTAT, 2023).
  • The highest contribution from shiitake mushroom (26%), followed by oyster mushroom (21%), blackear mushroom (21%), button mushroom (11%), Flammulina (7%), paddy straw mushroom (1%), and others mushrooms (13%).
  • India produces around 0.28 million tonnes of mushrooms every year.
  • In India, per capita consumption is about 90 g, which is less compared to other countries, including the USA (1.49 kg) and China (1.16 kg).

Mushroom Cultivation- Profitable Venture

  • Mushroom cultivation is one of the most profitable agriculture entrepreneurs.
  • Mushrooms are cultivated indoors and do not require arable land.
  • At present, four mushrooms viz., Button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus spp), Paddy straw mushroom (Volvariella spp.), and Milky mushroom (Calocybe indica) have been recommended for year-round cultivation in India.
  • Farmers can start cultivation even in small rooms with minimum infrastructure.
  • It is a short-duration crop, ranging from 1-3 months depending on the different mushroom species with high yield per unit time.
  • The profit margins are 25-30 per cent higher in bigger units due to controlled environment conditions.

Government Support-

  • Government of India sponsored schemes like the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and the National Bank for the Agriculture and Rural Development extend financial support for the establishment of mushroom farms.
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) is a medium-long-term debt financing facility scheme that was launched by the Central Government in 2020, which also supports the establishment of mushroom-growing units.
  • Assistance is provided to the farmers and entrepreneurs for some selected agriculture-based ventures, including mushroom cultivation by banks and financial institutions with interest subvention @ 3% and Credit Guarantee facility.

Medicinal and Nutraceutical Properties

  • Mushrooms are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and are low in fat and sugar, which is why they are considered a super food.
  • Mushrooms contain a good amount of quality proteins (30-40% on dry weight basis) and are also rich in essential amino acids required for good health.
  • Being the only vegetarian source of vitamin D, mushrooms can be very helpful in alleviating the prevalent vitamin D deficiency among the masses.
  • In 2020, India earned a total of 8.65 million USD from the export of mushrooms.
  • Morchella esculenta is one of the economically important species which grow naturally in the higher-altitude villages of Central Himalaya and is locally known as ‘Guchhi’.


Chapter 4- Apiculture Scope and Opportunities

  • Apiculture is the science and culture of honeybees and their management.
  • Beekeeping is the practice of intentional maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans.
  • A beekeeper may keep bees in order to collect honey and beeswax, or for the purpose of pollinating crops, or to produce bees for sale to another beekeeper. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary.
  • Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin: Apis ‘bee’) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans.
  • In India, beekeeping has been mainly forest-based. Several natural plant species provide nectar and pollen to honey bees.
  • Globally, there are more than 20,000 species of wild bees.
  • India is a country that inhabits four major honey bee species: two domesticated species, viz. Apiscerana (Indian or Asian honey bee) and A. mellifera (European honey bee), and two wild species, viz. A. dorsata (rock honey bee) and A. florea (dwarf honey bee).
  • Government approved the allocation for Rs. 500 crore for National Beekeeping & Honey Mission (NBHM) for three years (2020-21 to 2022-23).
  • India is one of the major honey exporting countries in the world and has exported 79,929.17 MT of natural honey to the world for the worth of Rs. 1,622.77 crore during the year 2022-23.


The following are issues related to beekeeping:

  • Beekeepers cannot obtain honey boxes.
  • There are no facilities for marketing honey; and
  • Insufficient instruction in apiary management.


  • The apiculture market is estimated to register a CAGR of 4.3% during the period 2020-25, with Asia-Pacific as the dominant producer.
  • The Indian apiculture market is expected to reach a value of Rs. 33,128 million by 2024 at a CAGR of nearly 12% by 2024.
  • India is the sixth largest natural honey exporting country.
  • The major export destinations were the USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Qatar.

Market Trends-

  • The Indian apiculture market attained a value of almost Rs. 18,836.2 million in the year 2020.
  • The Indian honey market reached a value of about INR 17.29 billion in 2020.
  • The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of about 10% between 2021 and 2026 to reach a value of nearly INR 30.6 billion by 2026.

Possible Products from Beekeeping (By-Products of a Honeybee Farm)

  1. Honey- It is a viscous fluid produced from the flower nectar by the bees. It is a whole food containing sugars, antibiotics, enzymes, acids, and minerals, and is used as a high energy source.
  2. Royal Jelly: It is a secretion from the bees and contains proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates, minerals like iron, sulphur, copper, and silicon.
  3. Beeswax: Beeswax is secreted as a liquid but solidifies when exposed to air. It is chiefly used in the candle industry.
  4. Propolis: It is a mixture of the beeswax and the resins collected by honeybee from plants.
  5. Bee Venom: It is injected into patients suffering from rheumatism. It also helps in curing neuralgia, endoarthritis, necrosis, etc.
  6. Pollen: It is a mixture of flower pollen, nectar, enzymes, honey, wax, and bee secretions. It is loaded with nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, lipids and several active substances.


India is one of the largest producers and consumers of honey in the world, with an estimated annual production of 1.2 lakh metric tonnes.


Beekeeping has the potential to generate income and employment opportunities for rural households by producing honey and other bee products such as wax, propolis, etc.

By fostering sustainable practices, embracing innovation, and nurturing knowledge sharing platforms, we pave the way for a thriving future for beekeeping entrepreneurs.

Chapter 5- Floriculture and Commercial Potential of Orchids

  • Floriculture, the art and science of cultivating flowers.
  • India's floriculture industry has experienced a remarkable transformation, marked by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.68% from 2017 to 2021, according to report by National Horticulture Board.
  • The commercial demand for orchids in India is on a trajectory of sustained growth, fueled by changing consumer preferences, increased urbanization, and a robust export market.

Key Factors Contributing to Commercial Success in India

  1. Local Adaptation and Cultivation Techniques: The success of such local adaptation is evident in the increased production and improved quality of orchids in India.
  2. Cultural Significance and Traditional Use: Orchids hold a significant value in various traditions and festivities.
  3. Government Initiatives and Subsidies: The Indian government has introduced various initiatives to support growers. Financial assistance, training programmes, and infrastructure development are key components of these initiatives.
  4. Export Opportunities: Orchid cultivation in India has expanded beyond meeting domestic demand, with the country emerging as a significant exporter of orchids and orchid products.

Challenges and Future Prospects in the Indian Context

  1. Infrastructure and Technology Gap: Despite technological advancements, the orchid floriculture sector in India faces challenges related to infrastructure and technology adoption. Many growers, especially in remote areas, lack access to modern greenhouse facilities and advanced cultivation technologies.
  2. Pest and Disease Management: Effective pest and disease management strategies are essential for sustaining the commercial success of orchid cultivation.
  3. Environmental Concerns and Sustainability: Adopting eco-friendly practices, implementing sustainable cultivation methods, and promoting organic alternatives can address these concerns and enhance the long-term viability of the industry.
  4. Skill Development and Training: The success of orchid cultivation requires skilled manpower, from experienced growers to technicians proficient in advanced cultivation techniques.
  5. Market Saturation and Diversification: The rapid growth of the orchid industry may lead to market saturation, emphasising the need for diversification.
  6. Global Collaboration and Research: Knowledge exchange, collaborative breeding programmes, and access to international markets can enhance the competitiveness of Indian orchids.
  7. Promotion of Sustainable Practices: Orchid industry in India should proactively adopt and promote environmentally responsible cultivation methods.


The floriculture industry, especially concerning orchids, represents a blooming frontier of commercial potential. Despite challenges, the industry thrives on factors such as local adaptation, cultural relevance, and government support. As the demand for ornamental plants continues to rise, orchids stand poised as a resilient and lucrative business opportunity, promising a vibrant future for growers, exporters, and enthusiasts alike.


Chapter 6- Organic Farming- Benefits, Present Status and Future Prospects

  • Organic Farming is a system of farm design and management to create an ecosystem of agriculture productionwithout the use of synthetic external inputssuch as chemical fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic hormones or genetically modified organisms.
  • India has witnessed significant growth in food grain production, from 50.8 million tonnes in 1950-51 to an impressive level of 329.7 million tonnes in 2022-23.
  • There has been raised concerns about their adverse impact on human health and the eco system. The indiscriminate and excessive application of chemical inputs for producing more and more.
  • In the long run, prompting the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, such as organic farming.

Need and Benefits of Organic Farming

  • It promotes biodiversity, conserves soil health and reduces water pollution.
  • Ensures the long-term sustainability of agriculture.
  • It contributes to the resilience and prosperity of farmers.
  • It provides economic sustainability to the farmers by reducing input cost on one hand and simultaneously creating better market access on the other.
  • It provides better income and market access.
  • Benefits consumers by providing them with healthier and safer food options.
  • Higher nutritional value contributing to better overall health of consumers.
  • It potentially opens up international market for organic products, thereby significantly enhancing the country's agricultural export.

Status of Organic Farming

  • The National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) launched in 2001, laid the foundation for systematic development of organic agricultural sector in the country.
  • NPOP provides an institutional framework for accreditation and certification of various facets of organic agriculture process.
  • The National Centre for Organic Farming, established in 2004, is a nodal organisation for promoting organic farming in the country.

Area under Organic Farming

  • India is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of total area under organic farming.
  • Currently, around 2.4 % of net cultivated area is either under certified or in conversion process of organic farming.
  • As on March 31, 2023, total area under organic certification registered under the National Programme for Organic Production reached at 101.72 lakh hectares.
  • Among all states, Chhattisgarh (due to its large wild harvest collection area) emerged as a frontrunner, contributing nearly 32% of country’s total area under organic farming.
  • Sikkim became the first State in the world to become fully organic with effect from 2016.
  • India, with 15.99 lakh organic producers, has the honour of having highest number of organic farmers in the world.

Organic Production

  • India achieved a commendable milestone by producing 2,972.39 thousand metric tonnes of organic products from both organic farms and wild areas during the fiscal year 2022- 23.
  • The organic production is not limited to the edible sector but also extends its reach to include the cultivation of organic cotton, fiber, medicinal, herbal and aromatic plants.
  • Madhya Pradesh is the single largest producer of organic products. It accounts for nearly 28% of the country’s organic production.
  • In terms of commodities, fiber crops are the single largest category followed by oil seeds and sugar crops.

Export of Organic Products

  • Organic farming in India is mainly export-intensive.
  • During the fiscal year 2022-23, the organic export volume of India reached an impressive 312,800.51 metric tonnes.
  • The revenue generated from the export of organic products amounted to approximately Rs. 5,525.18 crore (USD 708.33 million).
  • It is exported to various international markets, including the USA, European Union, Canada, Great Britain, Switzerland, Turkey, Australia, Ecuador, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and more.
  • The organic exports of India are expected to grow rapidly to reach a value of about USD 2,601 million by 2026.


  1. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture has been made operational from the year 2014-15.
  • It focuses on increasing water-use efficiency, promoting organic nutrient management and adopting climate-resilient sustainable agricultural practices.
  • It provides financial incentives, training programmes and technical support to farmers to encourage the adoption of organic and sustainable farming techniques.
  1. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (launched in April 2015) encourages the adoption of organic farming practices by providing financial assistance to farmers.
  • Under PKVY, groups of farmers are formed to cultivate organic crops and are supported with financial aid for inputs, seeds, and other essential resources.
  • This scheme not only facilitates the transition to organic farming but also promotes community participation and cooperation.


  • Limited awareness about organic production,
  • High initial costs of certification,
  • Lack of a well-established market infrastructure for organic products,
  • Difficulties in managing pests and diseases by using natural methods and traditional farming practices,
  • Issues related to quality control & certifications, etc.

Way Forward

  • The demand for organic products has been rising rapidly due to increasing health consciousness and environmental concerns.
  • Addressing the issue of low productivity under organic farming necessitates increased research and development on farming techniques.
  • Developing resilient crop varieties, exploring new organic pest control methods, and enhancing soil health through innovative techniques will contribute to the long-term sustainability of organic farming.
  • Continued policy support from the Government is essential for the growth of organic farming.


Thus we can conclude that educating consumers about the benefits of organic produce is the key to sustain the demand for organic products.


In nutshell, by effectively addressing challenges and seizing opportunities, India stands poised to emerge as a global front runner in the realm of organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices.

Chapter 7- Opportunities in Dairy and Fisheries Sector

  • Dairy and fisheries are two important sectors in Indian economy, contributing significantly to GDP and providing employment opportunities.
  • India has one of the highest milk productions in the world.
  • National Invest Promotion and Facilitation Industry reports that India produces 126 million litres of milk per day and contributes around 24.64 per cent of global milk production in the year 2021-22.
  • The other top milk-producing countries are the United States, China, Brazil, and Pakistan.
  • It is reported that milk production in India has registered a 58% increase in the last decade.
  • It is one of the most critical sectors in terms of employment as the sector employs more than eight crore farmers directly (Government of India, 2023).
  • The interconnected growth not only strengthens the dairy sector but also bolsters the resilience and prosperity of related industries, fostering a cohesive and mutually beneficial economic ecosystem.
  • The Indian fisheries sector has been growing at an annual average growth rate of 7% since 2016-17.
  • It contributes to 1.1% to India’s gross value added (GVA) and 6.72 per cent to the total agriculture sector GVA.
  • India is the third-largest producer of fish globally, and the second-largest aquaculture producing nation, with an estimated contribution of 8% to global fisheries production.
  • Fisheries industry provides employment opportunities to millions of people, especially in rural areas. It serves as a source of livelihood for over 2.8 crore fishers.
  • The growth and vibrancy of this sector carry a story of economic resilience, global acknowledgment, and substantial impact on the lives of millions, extending beyond mere numerical data.

Development Post-White Revolution-

  • Operation Flood produced a quick result and milk production outpaced population growth after 1973/74.
  • The per capita milk production increased from 40.6 kg/ year in 1971-72 to 71.5 kg/year in 1996-97 to 154.9 kg/year in 2021-22.
  • The idea of cooperative and new technology inspired several small entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses using scientific techniques, diversifying milk products, and expanding the market through an efficient supply chain.
  • 100% FDI was allowed in the Animal Husbandry sector through an automatic route.

Development Post-Blue Revolution

  • India is the third-largest fish-producing country, contributing 8% to global fish production and ranks second in aquaculture production.
  • To give a boost to the sector and bring about a revolution, Government of India launched a centrally sponsored scheme named “Blue revolution: Integrated development and management of fisheries” in 2015.
  • The scheme is being implemented through the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).

Policy Provision for Dairy and Fisheries Sector

  • Various policy measures have been implemented to enhance infrastructure and improve livestock productivity and disease control.
  • The recent atives include introduction of Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM), National Livelihood Mission (NLM), Livestock Health and Disease Control (LHDC), National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD), National Animal Disease Control Programme (NADCP), Diary Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF), Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF), and Supporting Diary Cooperatives and Farmers Producer Organisations (SDCFPO) etc.
  • In 2019, NADCP was launched to control foot and mouth diseases (FMD) and brucellosis by vaccinating 100 per cent of the buffalo, sheep, goat, and pig population.
  • In May 2020, the Indian government introduced the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), for the fisheries sector with a total investment of Rs. 20,050 crore.
  • PMMSY aims to address critical gaps in fish production and productivity, infuse innovation and modern technology, improve post-harvest infrastructure and management, modernise and strengthen value chain and traceability, establish framework for a robust fisheries management and fishers' welfare.

Challenges and Way Forward

Indian dairy and fisheries industries have experienced growth but also facing challenges such as-

  • Disruptions in transportation,
  • insufficient cold storage facilities, and distribution barriers
  • Climate change poses a significant challenge to both the dairy and fisheries industries

Addressing the inefficiencies in the supply chain by investing in infrastructure and technology, implementing climate-smart practices, and promoting innovation can help strengthen the Indian dairy and fisheries sectors against the challenges they face.

Chapter 8- Vertical Farming and Hydroponics- Future Urban Agriculture

Vertical Farming and Hydroponics

  • Vertical farming (VF) revolutionizes traditional agriculture by employing soilless cultivation in a multi-level, protected indoor environment, departing from conventional soil-based farming and horizontal crop growth on a single level.
  • It has the potential to enhance food production, maintain quality and contribute to sustainable urban farming.
  • Vertical farming adopts a unique approach to maximize space and efficiency by cultivating plants in vertically stacked layers or inclined surfaces, often within controlled environments like greenhouses or warehouses.
  • Various shapes and sizes of vertical farms worldwide employ one of three nutrient-providing methods: Hydroponics, Aeroponics, or Aquaponics.
  1. Hydroponic System
  • It is a system of growing crops without soil, often called soilless farming.
  • In this the plant roots grow in a liquid nutrient solution or inside the moist inert materials like Rockwool and Vermiculite.
  • The liquid nutrient solution is a mixture of essential plant nutrients in the water.
  • The plant roots are suspended either in the static liquid solution or in a continuously flowing nutrient mixture.
  • The hydroponic growing system requires continuous attention to the crops, unlike the traditional farming system.
  • System uses 60-70% less water than traditional agriculture, making it widely utilized in numerous vertical farms worldwide.
  1. Aeroponics-
  • It cultivates plants in a soil-free mist environment with roots hanging down in a closed-air container.
  • This method uses 90% less water than hydroponics.
  • It is a highly efficient system of food production.
  1. Aquaponics-
  • It integrates fish production into plant cultivation.
  • The system utilizes fish-produced nutrient rich waste as a feed resource for plants, and plants, in turn, purify and recycle wastewater for fishponds.
  • This system offers ecological benefits, but complexity and higher cost make it less common in vertical farming.

Different Hydroponic Systems

The choice of the best hydroponic system for growing vegetables depends on factors like space, budget, and the specific crops you intend to cultivate. Here are some popular hydroponic systems-

  1. Deep Water Culture (DWC): Plant are submerged in a nutrient solution. This method involves suspending the plant roots in a solution of nutrient-rich, oxygenated water that promotes nutrient absorption.
  2. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): NFT involves a constant flow of nutrient solution over the roots, providing them with a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen.
  3. Ebb and Flow System: This method involves cyclic submersion of plants in the nutrient solution, providing nutrients and oxygen to the roots through periodic drainage back into a reservoir.
  4. Drip System: It directly delivers nutrient solutions to plant roots using tubes and drippers.
  5. Aeroponics: In this, plant roots are suspended in the air and misted with a nutrient solution, promoting rapid growth.
  6. Wicking System: Plants in an inert medium use a cotton rope wick to draw nutrient solution from a reservoir to the root zone.
  7. Vertical Tower Systems: These systems allow plants to grow vertically, making the most of limited space.
  8. Kratky Method: A cost-effective hydroponic system that doesn't require electronic devices or electric current. It involves an initial administration of water and nutrients, proving efficient for plant production while minimizing water wastage.
  • Combining hydroponics and vertical farming enhances the efficiency and productivity of resources used for food production.

Crop Management in Hydroponics

  • Plants grown hydroponically thrive in slightly acidic conditions, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 optimizing nutrient uptake.
  • Neutral water is preferred for the hydroponic system.
  • Maintaining the optimum conductivity for each crop is crucial for maximizing productivity.
  • A favorable temperature significantly influences crop growth, with an ideal range of 15-18°C for leafy and exotic vegetables, although they can tolerate temperatures as low as 7°C.

Crops Suitable for Vertical Farming and Hydroponics

The most commonly grown commercial crops under vertical farming and hydroponics are given in the table:

  • Some examples of hydroponics companies in India are: Nutrifresh, India’s largest hydroponic farm. Akarshak hydroponics, involved in the cultivation of hydroponic saffron and indoor saffron.

Vertical farming- Advantages and Disadvantages


  1. Hydroponics in conjunction with vertical farming utilizes 99% less land compared to traditional farming due to the concentrated root system.
  2. Hydroponics require less water compared to conventional farming practices.
  3. Enables the creation of a controlled microclimate, allowing year-round indoor cultivation of regional or seasonal crops
  4. Protects crops from soil-borne pests and diseases, and adverse weather conditions, thereby reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
  5. Flexible to set up locations anywhere, to reduce transportation and warehouse costs etc.
  6. Facilitates access to fresh produce, ensuring reliable and sustainable food sources.
  7. It enhances plant productivity per unit area compared to horizontal hydroponic methods.
  8. Automated monitoring and control systems enable growers to optimize growing schedules for crops
  9. In urban areas, vertical farming provides both environmental benefits, such as biodiversity and sustainability, and socio-economic advantages, including leisure and education.


  1. High upfront infrastructure costs pose a significant hurdle to the widespread adoption.
  2. Shortage of expertise and the need for a controlled growing system necessitate a highly educated workforce, leading to elevated labor costs.
  3. It is energy-intensive and requires artificial lighting, temperature, and humidity requirements, which increases the cost of production.
  4. The absence of natural pollinators in controlled conditions can result in poor fruit sets and the production of small, misshapen fruits.
  5. The range of crops cultivated commercially is usually confined to leafy vegetables and microgreens.
  6. Require continuous attention and care, with components like pumps and nutrient delivery systems needing regular maintenance.

Way Forward

Vertical farming, though expensive, is more affordable by utilising cheap and available shipping containers and abandoned warehouses.

Hydroponics maximizes resource use, enables year-round crop production, and increases yields, potentially revolutionizing food cultivation, especially leafy vegetables. It reduces waste by conserving water, nutrients, and space, promoting sustainability.

Research shows that supportive policies and incentives, like grants and tax benefits, can encourage investment and promote urban agriculture through agri-startups.

UPSC Mains Practice Questions-

Q1. What are the Soilless farming techniques? Describe how these ensure food security for the increasing population.

Q2. Discuss the major regions of the world known for animal husbandry. Evaluate the challenges faced by animal husbandry in India and suggest measures to overcome them.

Q3. What are the benefits and challenges of organic farming in India? How can the government promote organic farming as a sustainable and profitable alternative to conventional farming?

Q4. How can the ‘Digital India’ programme help farmers to improve farm productivity and income? What steps has the Government taken in this regard?