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The Government has identified horticultural crops as a means of diversification for making agriculture more profitable through efficient land use, optimum utilization of natural resources (soil, water and environment) and creating skilled employment for rural masses, especially women folk.

Recent efforts have been rewarding in terms of increased production and productivity and availability of a much larger volume of horticultural produce. India has emerged as the largest producer of coconut, arecanut, cashewnut, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Among the new crops; kiwi, olive crops and oil palm have been successfully introduced for commercial cultivation in the country. Some improvement is seen in the adoption of technology for raising production.

Production of horticultural crops has increased considerably as compared to the situation a couple of decades ago. The area under horticulture crops has increased from 16.6 million hectare in 2001-02 to 22.5 million hectare in 2011-12 with a corresponding increase in production from 145.8 million tonnes to 247.54 million tonnes.

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Efforts are on to encourage private investment in hi-tech horticulture with micro-propagation, protected cultivation, drip irrigation, and integrated nutrient and pest management besides making use of latest post-harvest technology particularly in the case of perishable commodities.

As a result, horticulture crop production has begun to move from rural confines to commercial ventures and has attracted young entrepreneurs, since it has proved to be intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding. It is only recently that a reasonably reliable data base for horticultural products has begun to take shape.

Programmes for Horticulture Development:

National Horticulture Mission:

A centrally sponsored scheme to National Horticulture Mission (NHM) has been launched in the country from May 2005 during the current financial year for the development of horticulture duly ensuring end-to-end approach having backward and forward linkages covering research, production, post-harvest management, processing and marketing. The focus areas of the Mission will be as under.

i. Capacity building for production and supply of adequate quality planting material including setting up of scion banks of high yielding mother plants.

ii. Increased coverage of crops under improved/high yielding cultivars.

iii. Enhanced production and productivity of horticulture crops.

iv. Strengthening of infrastructural facilities such as soil and leaf analysis lab, survey and surveillance of pest and diseases, green house, polyhouses, micro irrigation, plant health clinics vesmicompost, etc.

v. Strengthening infrastructure facilities for marketing and export.

vi. Enhanced production of high value and low volume horticultural products for exports.

vii. Build adequate infrastructure for on farm and post-harvest handling.

viii. Enhanced production of high value processed products.

ix. Building a strong base to enhance efficiency in adoption of technologies.

National Horticulture Board Programmes:

The 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 act as hubs for developing commercial horticulture, development of post harvest infrastructure, strengthening of market information system and horticulture data base, assisting research and development programmes to develop products suited for specific varieties with improved methods and horticulture technology, providing training and education to farmers and processing industry personal for improvement of agronomic practices and new technologies are also being pursued by the Board-3.

During 2011-12 the area under fruit crops is at 6.58 million hectare with a production of 77.52 million tones which contributes to a 32% share in total production. While India is the second largest producer of fruits in the worlds, it is the largest producer of fruits like mango, banana, papaya, spate and pomegranate.

Mango (Mangifera Indica):

India is the largest producer of mango followed by China. Mango is the most important fruit covering about 39 per cent of the area accounting for 23 per cent of the total fruit production in the country. India’s share in the world production of mango is about 54%. Fruits:

Conditions for Growth:

The mango trees grow throughout the country in a wild or semi-cultivated form, particularly near nullahs and ravines. It is a native of monsoon lands with a 75-250 cms rainfall concentrated in June to September and mean shade temperature of 28°C. Though it grows on almost all types of soils found in tropical and sub-tropical parts of the country, the plant grows best on rich clayey loams. The crop takes about 5 months to mature.

Areas of Production:

The largest hectare of mango is in Uttar Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh ranks second. Other important states are Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Assam Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The important varieties include Bombay yellow, langra, safeda, dasheri, fajri and chausa in (U.P.) alphonso, aman dashaeri gulabkhas langra and aman abbasi in Bihar; Alphonso and Pairi in Maharashtra.

Orange (Citrus Reticulata):

Orange or mandarin grows successfully in all tropical and sub-tropical parts of the country. Citrus ranks second in the area and accounts for about 10 per cent of the country’s fruit production.

Conditions for Growth:

It can be grown successfully on a wide range of soils, but well-drained medium or light loams with slightly heavier sub-soils are considered more suitable.

Areas of Production:

It is grown in the rainfed conditions in Kodagu districts of Karnataka, Wayanand of Kerala and the Niligiris of Tamil Nadu at height from 600 to 1500 meters in the Khasi, Jaintia and Lushai hills in Meghalaya; in the sub-montane tracts in Himachal Pradesh at elevations upto 370 metres and in the area around Nagpur. The important varieties of orange are Nagpur, Khasi, Kodagu, Desi, Emperor and Sikkim. The plants begin to bear fruits after 8 year planting and mature fully from the tenth year onwards.

Banana (Musa Paradisjaca):

Bananas are the fifth largest agricultural commodity in world trade after cereals, sugar, coffee and cocoa. India ranks first in banana production, contributing about 23% in world pool of banana production. 11% of the global area under banana belongs to India. Banana is another important fruit crops ranking third in area covering about 13 percent of the total area. It ranks first in fruit production contributing nearly one-third of the total fruit production.

Conditions for Growth:

Banana is primarily a tropical and sub-tropical crop, requiring average temperature of 20° to 30°C throughout in growth period. The rainfall should be fairly above 150 cms. The banana tree grows well in rich well-drained soil with ample moisture and humus content.

Areas of Production:

Two types of banana, namely, the Culinary (M. Paradisiaca) and Dessert are grown in the tropical parts of the country where the temperature does not fall below 16°C and rainfall below 150 cms.

The peninsular India provides ideal conditions for its cultivation. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are two main producers accounting for about half of total banana produced in India, Maharashtra being the largest producer in India. The other producers are Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.

Apple (Pyrus Malus):

Apple is the fourth major fruit crop in the country with the production of 1.42 million tonnes.

Conditions for Growth:

Apple is a temperate fruit crop. It requires average temperature of 21° to 4°C during active growing season. For optimum growth, 100-125 cm rainfall is important. Low temperature, rain, fog and cloudy weather hampers its proper growth at the time of maturity. The conditions are found on hill slopes at altitudes ranging from 1,500-2,700 m above mean sea level. Loamy soils, rich in organic matter and having good drainage are most suitable for apple cultivation.

Areas of Production:

The main area of apple production are-Kullu and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, the Kashmir valley and the hilly areas of western U.P. It occupies nearly 39,000 ha in the temperate hill tracts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Grapes (Vitis Vinifera):

Grapes are a sub-tropical plant and grows well in dry climate and short, sharp, winters and long dry summers.

Areas of Production:

In the northern parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh the plant grows and yields fruits, only during January to March and it rests during summer. But in the Southern Parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the plant grows throughout the year and yields fruits twice a year in February-April and again in September-November.

Among the major producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab in the north and Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south.

Cashew (Anacardium Occidentale):

Cashew plantations were introduced in India by the Portuguese sometimes in the 16th century. The first seeds were brought from Brazil. Cashew is mainly grown for its nuts all though its fruit (cashew apple) is also useful. India is the largest producer, processor, consumer and exporter of cashew in the world. India currently produces 0.46 million hectares of cashewnut accounting for 45% of the global production.

Conditions for Growth:

Cashew requires a moderately high temperature of about 20°C and a rainfall varying from 50 to 400 cms. The fruits ripen from March to May but the season is extended in years of heavier rainfall in November-December.

Areas of Production:

It is mainly grown in the coastal districts of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Mangalore, Quillon, Kottayam and Goa have a well-developed cashew processing industry. It is largely exported to Canada, U.K., Germany, Australia and Japan. It faces stiff competition from Brazil, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Mozambique.


The share of other fruits like guava and papaya is about 4 per cent while that of grapes and pineapple is 2 per cent and litchi about 1 per cent. The arid zones of the country are potential areas for fruits like oania, ber, pomegranate, annone etc. There has been a steady increase in the area and production of these fruits, particularly aonia, ber and pomegranate in the country as a result of the identification and development of suitable varieties and production technologies.

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