Siachen troops will get fresh veggies with help of new tech

The Asian Age.  | B R Srikanth

India, All India

Dr Singh said low intensity light inside bunkers would suffice for cultivation of these plants.

A file photo of Indian Army personnel at Siachen Glacier. (Photo: PTI)

BENGALURU: Tinned food will be passé for soldiers and officers patrolling the Siachen Glacier, considered the world’s highest battleground, as they will soon be able to munch on a variety of fresh vegetables — radish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale or cucumber — grown inside their bunkers within a span of 10-12 days.  

This year, more than 1000 posts along Siachen Glacier will get ‘micro-green’ technology for cultivation of plants that yield vegetables to boost immunity levels as well as help overcome problems caused by tinned food — hypertension and gastro-intestinal ailments. “We have tested the platform (a 30 tray-set for every bunker with five soldiers) in 64 posts. All plants were grown using coco peat rather than soil as the media during our trials. The army has accepted our ‘micro-green’ technology and asked us to replicate it in more than 1000 posts,” Dr Narendra Singh, Additional Director, Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Leh-Ladakh, told this newspaper on the sidelines of 107th edition of Indian Science Congress.   

He said the advantages of vegetables grown with the help of ‘micro-green’ technology are many fold: High quality fresh food which promotes good health thanks to rich and vital nutrients, negligible fat and zero cholesterol. Second, rich dietary fiber improves appetite, digestion and reduces gastro-intestinal problems. Third, they help reduce hypertension by balancing the level of sodium and potassium due to intake of tinned food. Fourth, they provide secondary metabolites which have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous attributes. Besides, cultivation inside bunkers helps reduce stress and boredom among soldiers, he added.

Dr Singh said low intensity light inside bunkers would suffice for cultivation of these plants.

“Each tray can yield between 40-50 grams of vegetables,” he added.