Horticulture – Science of cultivating Orchards
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Horticulture is one of the main agricultural practices in a nation. It is basically the science of cultivating gardens or orchards, that is, it refers to the process of cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. It involves increasing the area and productivity of farming lands, bringing technological aspect in agriculture, raising the farmers’ incomes and their standard of living, being a source of employment opportunities, etc.
India is bestowed with a varied agro-climate, which is highly favourable for growing a large number of horticultural crops such as fruits, vegetables, root tuber, aromatic and medicinal plants, spices and plantation crops like coconut, arecanut, cashew and cocoa. It is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables, fruits, plantation crops and spices contributed to 59.8 per cent, 30.9 per cent, 6.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent of total horticulture production, respectively, in 2006-07.
In India, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, is the nodal agency for promoting entrepreneurial activities in horticulture sector of the country. Its focus is on unleashing the advantages of various horticultural crops through its schemes like, ‘National Horticulture Mission’ and ‘Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in North Eastern States, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand’. National Horticulture Board (NHB) has also been set up to promote integrated development in horticulture as well as for coordinating, stimulating and sustaining the production and processing of fruits and vegetables.
Initiative has also been taken up to promote modern ‘terminal markets’ for fruits, vegetables and other perishables in important urban centres of the country to provide the state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities for electronic auction, cold chain and logistics, etc. Such market seeks to allow easy access to farmers for the marketing of their produce.
Hence, there exists innumerable business opportunities in the horticulture sector of India. Investors and entrepreneurs, from all over the world, are making greater investments into the sector and are actively involved in trading of India’s horticulture crops. The Government, both at the Centre and the State level, is making all efforts to commercialize the horticultural activities in the country.
Horticulture and Allied Sectors: Horticulture
Schemes and Incentives
Various policy initiatives and measures have been taken up by both the Central and State Governments, in order to develop a conducive business environment for apt promotion of entrepreneurship in horticulture sector. The emphasis for horticulture development is mainly focused through the developmental programmes, of the ‘Department of Agriculture and Cooperation’, which are as follows:-
- The most important being, the launching of the ‘National Horticulture Mission (NHM)’ as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a view to promote holistic growth of the horticulture sector through an area based regionally differentiated strategies, which include research, technology promotion, extension, post harvest management, processing and marketing, in consonance with comparative advantage of each State/region and its diverse agro-climatic feature. Its underlying approach is a technology driven cluster approach with focussed attention on competitive horticulture crops. The other main objectives of the Mission are to:-
- enhance production and productivity of horticulture crops;
- increase coverage of crops under improved/ high yielding cultivars;
- improve nutritional security and income support to farm households;
- enhance production of high value and low volume horticultural products for exports;
- strengthen infrastructure facilities for marketing and export;
- establish convergence and synergy among multiple on-going and planned programmes for horticulture development;
- promote, develop and disseminate technologies, through a seamless blend of traditional wisdom and modern scientific knowledge;
- create opportunities for employment generation for skilled and unskilled persons, especially unemployed youth; etc.
To achieve the above objectives, the Mission seeks to adopt the following strategies:
Ensuring an end-to-end holistic approach, having backward and forward linkages, covering production, post harvest management, processing and marketing to assure appropriate returns to growers/producers.
Promoting R&D technologies for production, post-harvest management and processing.
Enhancing acreage, coverage, and productivity through:-
Diversification from traditional crops to plantations, orchards, vineyards, flower and vegetable gardens.
Extension of appropriate technology to the farmers for high-tech horticulture cultivation and precision farming.
Assisting in setting up post harvest facilities such as pack house, ripening chamber, cold storages, Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storages etc, processing units for value addition and marketing infrastructure.
Adopting a coordinated approach and promotion of partnership, convergence and synergy among R&D, processing and marketing agencies in public as well as private sectors, at the National, Regional, State and sub-State levels.
Where appropriate and feasible, promoting National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) model of cooperatives to ensure support and adequate returns to farmers.
Promoting capacity-building and Human Resource Development at all levels.
Strengthening infrastructure facilities such as soil and leaf analysis labs, survey and surveillance of pest and diseases, green house, poly houses, micro irrigation, plant health clinics, vermicopost, etc.
Realizing the potential of horticulture in the North-Eastern region and other special category States, a Centrally sponsored scheme called ‘Technology Mission for Integrated Development of horticulture in North Eastern States, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand’ was launched. This Mission/ scheme is based on the ‘end to end approach’ taking into account the entire gamut of horticulture development in a holistic manner, with all the backward and forward linkages. It aims at establishing convergence and synergy among numerous ongoing governmental programmes through horizontal and vertical integration of these programmes, in order to ensure adequate, appropriate, timely and concurrent attention to all links in the production, post harvest and consumption chain. The “Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium” (SFAC) is involved in coordinating this scheme. State level SFACs have also been constituted in most of the implementing States for monitoring and implementing the programme at the grass-root level.
The objectives of the Mission are to:-
- improve the production and productivity of horticulture crops by harnessing the potential of the region;
- give special emphasis on “Low Volume, High Value, Less Perishable Horticulture Crops”;
- develop a horticulture based farming system, thereby providing viable and ample opportunities for employment, especially for women, besides improving the productivity of land;
- address the issues of production of quality planting material, of organic farming, of efficient water management as well as of plant health, along with proper development and demonstration of technologies; etc.
The technology Mission addresses all the aspects of horticulture development through its four Mini Missions, namely:-
- Mini Mission-I: This involves research activities and aims to supply nucleus/basic seed and planting material of horticultural crops, with a view to provide technology support. This involves standardization of Production and Protection Technologies, and Technology Refinement and Training through on-farm trials. The ‘Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)’ is the nodal agency for coordinating and implementing the programmes under this mini mission.
- Mini Mission-II: This mission primarily aims at increasing the production and productivity of the horticulture produce in the region through integrated implementation of various governmental programmes based on Compact Area Development Approach. The major components of this mini mission are:- area expansion; creation of water sources; on-farm water management; production of planting materials; transfer of technology through training; demonstration, publicity and training of trainers; popularisation of organic farming and use of bio-fertilizers; promotion and popularisation of agricultural equipments; promotion of integrated pest management; establishment of Plant Health Clinics; establishment of Tissue/Leaf Analysis Laboratories; entrepreneurial development of women farmers; etc. Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is the nodal department for coordinating this mini mission. The mission is implemented by Agriculture/ Horticulture departments of the States/UTs.
- Mini Mission-III: This mission aims at creating infrastructural facilities for post harvest management, marketing and export. Its activities are mainly coordinated by National Horticulture Board (NHB). The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is the nodal department for implementation of this mini mission. The existing schemes of the NHB, DMI, NCDC, APEDA, NAFED etc., either with the existing outlays or with enhanced outlays, are to be implemented under this mini mission. Considering the gap, new components have been proposed in marketing. The major components are:-
- Post Harvest Management
- The existing approved schemes of National Horticulture Board (NHB) with additional outlays to be implemented in a more focussed way in the mission mode
- Strengthening of Nutritional Status in Rural Areas
- Strengthening of Marketing Infrastructure
- Improvement of Services in Wholesale Markets
- Development of Rural Primary Markets
- Development of Apni Mandis
- Promotion of Agmark in domestic trade by strengthening the State grading laboratories and agricultural marketing information network
- Forward and Backward Linkages to enhance productivity and quality of produce
- Pilot Project of Alternate Marketing System in order to improve farmers’ income
- Schemes of NCDC to assist cooperative societies for marketing of horticulture products
- Schemes of APEDA for fright subsidy and for packaging development
- Market Intervention through National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and TRIFED
- Mini Mission-IV: This mini mission aims at addressing all the issues of processing and marketing of processed products. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is responsible for coordinating the activities and its schemes are being integrated into this mission. The mini mission envisages promotion of new units; upgradation and modernization of the existing units; as well as market promotion, research and development.
National Horticulture Board (NHB) is involved in the development of high quality horticulture farms in identified belts and make such areas vibrant with horticulture activity, which in turn, will act as hubs for development of commercial horticulture through production and post-harvest management; development of post harvest infrastructure; strengthening market information system and horticulture database. The Board is also assisting research and development programmes to develop products suited for specific varieties with improved methods and horticulture technology. The main Schemes that are being pursued by NHB are:-
Development of commercial Horticulture through Production and Post-Harvest Management
- Capital Investment Subsidy for Construction / Modernization Expansion of Cold Storage and Storages for Horticulture Produce
- Technology Development and Transfer for Promotion of Horticulture
- Market Information Services for Horticulture Crops
- Horticulture Promotion Services