Generally perceived to be boom, water, for Mr. Bolin Bora, a resident of Bahokita village, Bordoloni block, Dhemaji district, Assam, is a sign of potential trouble. Farming is the only livelihood option for him. He cultivates winter rice locally known as Boro Rice, which is sown in the cold winter months of November-December and harvested by early spring (May/June). However, the annual cycle of floods in his low lying village prevent him from reaping a safe harvest.
He was encouraged to attend trainings on restructuring of cropping patterns with the objective of learning techniques to limit the damage caused by floods to his fields. An important component of crop restructuring was the use of innovative poly tunnels to cultivate winter rice. They are naturally ventilated climate controllers. Operating on the basic principle of green houses, they trap terrestrial radiation, causing temperature inside the poly tunnels to be 5oC higher than the surrounding. Using simple and locally available material like bamboo and plastic, he was trained to construct a poly tunnel in his field. For a nominal cost of Rs 500, he was able to construct poly tunnel in 10 meter square of his land. With the help of poly tunnels in his field, the rice saplings germinated faster enabling early transplantation; reducing the growing period. This helped him in reaping an earlier harvest (April/May) prior to the onset of the monsoon.
After adoption of poly tunnel technology, he has been able to improve the yield to 5.2 quintals/bigha in winter rice from the previous yield of 2 quintals/bigha. It has also helped him generate an additional income of Rs 1280/bigha. Poly tunnels are beneficial due to quick germination; good seedling vigour due to reduced effect of cold, and reduction in disease due to healthy growth. Motivated by the success in winter rice, he has started using the same technology to cultivate vegetables as well. Poly culture technology has provided him with a new and better idea of raising seedlings during winter than the traditional technique.