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Horticulture for Rural Prosperity
12/8/2019 10:57:49 PM
Dr. Banarsi Lal

Cultivators are said to be very important citizens on this earth because they feed the world. They are the most independent, vigorous and virtuous individuals. India is an agricultural country with 143 million hectares of land as net sown area, the highest percentage of land under cultivation in the world. The country accounts for 17 per cent of world's population and 2.4 per cent of world's area. Horticulture sector encompasses a wide range of crops such as fruit crops, vegetables crops, ornamental crops, spices, medicinal and aromatic crops etc. Horticulture is the fastest growing sector in India and contributes immensely in poverty eradication and nutritional security.This sector has immense scope in India to increase the income and employment for the population and helps in sustaining large number of industries. Horticultural crops play a unique role in the Indian economy by improving the income of the farmers.Cultivation of these crops is labour intensive and lot of employment is generated for the rural people.India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world after China. India contributes 10 and 13.4 per cent of fruits and vegetables in the world. India is the largest producer of mango and banana in the world producing 65 and 11 percent of mango and banana of the world.India is also the largest producer of cashew in the world. India is the largest producer of cauliflower in the world. India is second in onion production and third in cabbage production in the world. India's varied climate is suitable for the cultivation of more than 30 fruit trees and 40 vegetables. Horticulture covers only 6.1 per cent of gross cropped area but it contributes 18.8 per cent of gross value of agricultural output. Thus, horticulture is important in creating the employment, enhancing the profits and providing the nutritional and economic security to the farmers. It is estimated that 6.7 per cent growth rate in horticulture sector is must in order to achieve 4.0 per cent growth rate of agriculture. Government of India has strengthened the research and development activities in the horticulture sector. There is an increase in the demand of fruits and vegetables. So there is an urgent need to increase the production of fruits and vegetables. During the last decade has introduced certain technologies like greenhouse cultivation, micro-irrigation, precision farming, post-harvest management etc.
Horticultural sector contributes immensely to strengthen the financial condition of Jammu and Kashmir. This is a core sector of Jammu and Kashmir agriculture and about 4.5 lakh families are engaged in it. Around 20 per cent area of the state is under horticultural crops. Horticultural sector contributes around 5000 crores to the annual income of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Among the horticultural crops in the state apple occupies the predominant position constituting around 45 per cent of the total area under fruit crops. Horticultural activities major thrust is given in hilly areas. Around 45 per cent of economic returns of agriculture come from horticultural sector that contributes around 8 per cent of the state's economy. The fruit crops grown in the state are almonds, walnuts, pears, cherries and apricots in temperate areas and mango, citrus, litchi, ber, papaya, guava etc. in subtropical areas. Saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir is unique in the world. The annual production of Saffron in Jammu and Kashmir ranges from 10 to 20 tonnes. The state government has made strenuous efforts to increase horticultural crops production. Incentives are given to the horticultural crops growers by the departments of the state to develop orchards in Kandi and hilly areas. Subsidy to the extent of 50% of fruit plants and inputs used by the farmer are provided. It has been observed that around 40 lakh tones of fruits are exported annually from the state. This sector contributes significantly to the economic and ecological development, employment generation, export and nutritional requirement of the people of state. Since Jammu and Kashmir is endowed with different agro-climatic conditions and topography, the scope for strengthening various commercial horticultural activities. In horticultural crops post -harvest losses range from 15-20 per cent. In J&K around 94 per cent of the land holders fall in the category of small and marginal farmers.
There is an urgent need to focus our research and development efforts on increasing the production, productivity and quality of fruits and vegetables, besides paying undivided attention to reduce the cost of production. Declining shares of fruits and vegetables in terms of area and production and exports in horticulture and plantation crops need to be arrested. We should utilize our research and development to increase the fruits and vegetables production. In order to increase the production, productivity and quality of produce and reduction in the cost of production, our research institutes/centers have identified certain key areas and have generated current knowledge in this area which needs to be transferred to the farmers in a systematic way so that farmers are enabled to increase the area under fruits and vegetables, adopt the scientific technology, use the optimum inputs and achieve the demand of fruits and vegetables. Production of fruits and vegetables can be increased by increasing the area and by applying the scientific production technology. It is very difficult to increase the area under these crops but still there is possibility to increase the area by adopting the methods such as (a) By utilization of land through inter-cropping/mixed cropping in existing orchards, growing crops in the vacant areas and growing shade loving crops. (b) Development of appropriate varieties of crops and agronomic practices to suit reclaimed wastelands and dry land region in the country.(c)Adoption of cost effective poly house technology.(d)High density planting by reduction in planting by reduction in planting distance or by use of plant growth inhibitors and dwarfing rootstocks in crops like mango, citrus, banana, apple and some other fruits.(e)Use of protected cultivation under controlled conditions for growing fruits like strawberry and some vegetables. Productivity can be increased by bringing maximum possible area in a systematically drawn plan of five years under high yielding or rejuvenating the already existing orchards along with full package of scientific practices. This will help in improving the quality of produce and reduction in the cost. In the conventional methods of crop improvement both desirable and detrimental genes get transferred from parents. The modern biotechnology system helps to insert single or more than two desirable genes into the crop. Traits can be modified through the genetic engineering that helps to increase productivity and improve the nutritional quality. This technique helps production of uniform size, shape, size and colour of products. Micro-propagation is the most popular technique for production in the world and supply of identical plants. Propagation technique through tissue culture and molecular indexing for culture of diseases are immense use in making available healthy planting material. Micro propagation protocol has been developed in banana, grape, ginger, turmeric, strawberry and betel vine. Farm mechanization now-a-days is very much helpful in reducing the labour cost and conducting timely farm operations and efficiently. For mechanizing cultivation of some fruits and vegetables some implements have been designed for distribution to the horticultural crops growers. The implements such as mango harvesters, potato diggers, automatic potato planter, potato ridger, potato grader, soil crust breaker, fruit peeler, fertilizer application-cum-line marker etc. are very important for the horticultural crops growers. These equipments must be widely demonstrated to the fruit growers to establish their suitability, cost-effectiveness etc. and then makes them available. Integrated pest and disease management aims at judicious use of plant protection methods viz. cultural, biological, chemical, physical/mechanical or regulatory control methods. Biological control assumes significant importance and calls for the development of natural enemies tolerant to multi-pesticidal groups. Integrated nutrient management refers to maintenance of soil fertility and plant nutrient supply to an optimum level for sustaining the desired crop productivity. It aims at achieving the highest level of productivity with efficiency at economically acceptable limits in environment friendly way. Use of organic manures and biological fertilizers helps in restoring soil health, reducing quantity and cost of chemical fertilizers. Awareness on biological nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilizers and micorrhizal fungi must be created among the farmers. Micro-irrigation and fertigation techniques must be popularized among the farmers. Under this system, water is applied at a low rate for a longer period at frequent intervals. It has been successively tried in banana, mango, pomegranate, citrus, cucumber, okra, brinjal etc. Now emphasis must be given to apply the fertilizers through micro-irrigation. Micro-irrigation and fertigation helps to save the fertilizers up to 30 per cent and save water up to 40 percent. Moreover, this system helps to prevent the growth of weeds, saves energy and improves quality of produce. Greenhouse technology is a capital intensive, sophisticated and high-precision technology which facilitates intensive cultivation of vegetables throughout the year. Greenhouse technology can modify the environment for optimum plant growth and production of uniform and high quality produce. Fan and pad cooled greenhouses are suited for hot and dry climate and heating system greenhouses are suited in cold climate. In greenhouse technology wind and thermal buoyancy obviates the need for electric power or generators for maintenance of temperature and relative humidity. This technology should be demonstrated to the Indian farmers. This technology is more suited for the cultivation of vegetables in northern hilly regions during summer season. Organic farming contributes in improving the quality of fruits and vegetables which have potential export market. Major components of organic farming are addition of organic manures, adoption of crop rotations and enhancement of soil fertility through biological fixation of nitrogen. Crop residues are utilized to make compost along with farm-yard manure and biogas slurry. Incorporation of green manure or green leaf manure helps to convert the crop residues into the organic matter in the soil. Insects-pests can be controlled by the combination of crop rotations, inter-crops, mechanical cultivation and use of biological pest control. Proper post-harvest management reduces the post-harvest losses by proper handling and packaging and adoption of suitable low cost storage infrastructures. Use of pre-cooling units, controlled atmosphere and refrigerated containers is recommended to increase the shelf life of horticultural crops. Indian farmers need to improve the quality of crops to make them qualitatively competitive in world market. There is need to establish the quality control laboratories to ensure the exporters that commodities being exported get international standards. In order to boost the horticulture crops production state governments, need to prepare a vision and mission on horticultural crops, define states role clearly and mobilize the financial resources to invest in this sector. Agricultural universities should take lead role in providing the proven technical guidelines to the horticultural crops growers and demonstrate effectiveness of technologies on growers' fields for adoption. Adequate and timely credit aid by financial institutions/banks is called through proper estimation of credit at growers'/village level, assisting self-help groups, providing Kisan Credit Cards, providing post-harvest facilities and linking the growers with the Agricultural Universities for demonstration of proven technology.
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