Working for technological empowerment and sustainable livelihoods at the grass root levels.
Selected Replicable Technology Models for Rural Application
Low-Cost Nursery Techniques


The demand for high quality planting material is steadily increasing due to interest in vegetable production, fruit-tree cultivation, social forestry, agro-forestry and plantation crops, floriculture, etc. Demand from homestead gardens and for indoor plants has also been growing in urban areas. The need for setting up rural nurseries to meet these demands of local people has been felt by small and marginal farmers as well as by gardeners and farmhouse owners who either have no or poor access to such quality planting material or have otherwise to rely on expensive supply from non-local sources. In order to meet this demand, there is ample scope for introduction of small rural nurseries, which will serve to augment the incomes of poorer sections of rural society while boosting quality and productivity in the farms sector. Such rural nurseries would also provide useful extension mechanisms for introduction of new or better varieties of different crops and as forward linkages for specially produced material such as from tissue-culture units.


The nursery business is highly remunerative and can be conducted in small space with minimum investment, making it highly suitable for adoption by small/marginal farmers. 1 sq.m. of space can easily accommodate about 200 saplings in plastic bags. In the case of ornamentals and grafted plants at an average selling price of about Rs. 10 a gross annual income of Rs. 2000/sq.m. is quite feasible. A nursery business can be undertaken by a village women in her spare time, using very little space and inputs. The nature of the nursery can vary according to the needs of the locality. A nursery in the vicinity of urban areas may produce mainly ornamental plants, indoor/garden plants, avenue tress and trees with showy flowers, while in rural areas a nursery may make more money through supply of grafts of fruit trees, rooted cuttings and saplings of medicinal and aromatic plants and of trees yielding non-timber products, seedlings of timber and fuel-wood trees, trees required in social/commercial forestry, etc.

The scope of a rural nursery can be successfully expanded by including seedlings of seasonal crop species. These could include not only several species of vegetables, but also such crop species as papaya, banana, sugarcane, cotton, castor, arhar and even cereals like rice, jowar and bajra. In the case of all these crops, seedlings are produced in nursery even if the conditions improve. With availability of such planting material from local nurseries, farmers can effectively pre-pone dates of planting with a proportionate increase in yield or, alternatively, delay the date of planting without suffering any yield loss. For the farmer, this can be a valuable eco-friendly non-monetary input, which gives higher yield without having to use additional agro-chemicals.

The business potential of selling seedlings of seasonal crops is estimated at Rs. 5000 crores per year on all India basis. Because it is difficult to transport live plants over long distances from large-scale centralized facilities, small decentralized rural nurseries have a natural advantage. Rural areas can potentially have lakhs of nurseries within a few kilometers of each other, each catering to a cluster of villages without having to compete among themselves.

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Technology Models for
Rural Application
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