Urbanisation has become a common phenomenon in the Indian society. In the repercussion of ever-growing urbanisation sprawl, we are losing our agricultural land every hour and the population is growing by leaps and bounds simultaneously. It means we will have less land to grow food on and more mouths to feed which is alarming and poses a greater challenge for our future generations. Rooftop farming is a viable option to tackle this situation in the near future.
The international communities across the globe have adopted the notion of urban sustainability and growing their own food to eradicate their reliability on the external sources for their food. Rooftop farming also gives better temperature control and hydrological benefits to the buildings. There are various methods and systems to install rooftop farms in residential and commercial buildings. Hydroponics, Aeroponics and container gardening are a few most well-known methods.
The necessity to recuperate green spaces is becoming increasingly critical to maintain environmental quality, as the impervious spaces are replacing them rapidly. Installing rooftop farms or green roofs in residential and commercial buildings is one of the options that can reduce the negative impact of development as it has numerous environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Green roof systems retain 60-100% of the stormwater they receive. In addition, green roofs have a longer life-span than regular roofs. They are protected from ultraviolet radiation and extreme flux in the temperature that causes roof membranes to deteriorate and results in leakage during the rainy season. Vegetation maintains the coolness of the roof during the summer as the plants act as an insulation layer and they shade the roof from the scorching heat.
All commercial and residential buildings with roof gardens are required to undergo roof checks at least twice a year. All roofs, even in our pre-grown system should to be weeded occasionally. Green roof plants should be be looked over for fungal diseases and insect problems on a regular basis. To grow vegetables, the installed system should ensure that there's enough space between plants and an adequate layer of soil for the vegetation of the plants.
The irrigation setup and the drainage system on the roof if inspected regularly ensure that there's no puddling or pooling situation as it can damage the plants and the soil layers. One needs to understand the need of preventing the rising temperatures for a better future, hence coming together as an active participant is key to start the trend of rooftop farming.
Although Rooftop farming is fairly a new concept in India but there is a progressive increase in the number of green roofs and rooftop farms. Eco-conscious and organic-friendly urbanites are acknowledging the importance of sustainable living as it is the need of the hour to sustain in the changing ecological conditions. As more people are moving and migrating around the urban areas, urban agriculture is starting to be viewed as a sustainable way to produce and efficiently supply locally-grown fresh crops and vegetables to cities.
Rooftop farming can be a viable option for urban agriculture on account of decreasing agricultural land, especially in Indian cities. It can play a significant role in urban environmental management and enhance the continuously deteriorating quality of air while offering organic and fertilizer-free produce.
(The author is Managing Director, Poddar Housing and Development Ltd & Joint Secretary, NAREDCO Maharashtra.)