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Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has said that there is tremendous potential for development of the horticulture sector and there is need to ensure focused attention for harnessing available potential through scaling up ongoing interventions.
During the inter-session meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in New Delhi, Singh said that the strategy for making Horticulture sector a key driver in transforming India’s agrarian landscape by ensuring convergence between research institutions, state horticulture missions, livelihood programmes and entrepreneurship is the priority of the government.
The Horticulture sector refers to a wide variety of crops, including fruits, vegetables, tuber crops, mushroom, ornamental plants including cut flowers, spices, plantation crops, medicinal and aromatic plants and the sector has become a key driver for economic development in many states.
The Minister that India is currently producing about 286 million tonnes of horticulture produce from an area of about 24.4 million hectare, accounting for about 13 percent of the total world production of fruits and leads the world in the production of mango, banana, papaya, sapota, pomegranate, acid lime and aonla.
Singh informed the session that India is the second largest producer of vegetables after China and is a leader in production of vegetables like peas and okra. Besides, India occupies the second position in production of brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower and onion and third in potato and tomato in the world. Special thrust is being given for production of vegetables under protected cultivation under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH).
There are numerous success stories, for example, banana in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, guava & tomato in Chatisgarh, pomegranate and mango in Gujarat, pineapple in Nagaland, kiwi in Arunachal and orchids in Sikkim, off season vegetables in Uttarakhand, etc – the challenge is to complement the sector with food processing, cold-chain agro logistics, agri-business, input related services, agricultural lending, insurance and value chain related services.
Singh said that in case of Horticulture, cold-chain strengthens the total value chain system and enables socio-economic transformation of farmers. To double farmer’s income, cold-chain plays an important role in ensuring that farmers can recover value from produce to result in gainful economic productivity.
Committee members said that it is equally essential to ensure the development of trained and skilled manpower and availability of quality planting material suitable to the local agro climatic conditions. Human resource development needs to be given thrust for capacity building of farmers, horticulture entrepreneurs/supervisors and field functionaries. Establishment of crop based Centres of Excellence is being encouraged in each state to serve as a hub for supply of planting material and dissemination of technology to farmers. So far 27 CoEs have been established with Indo-Israel collaboration and more are in the pipeline with collaboration with other countries.
Deliberations of the In-Session Consultative Committee would help bring a clearer insight of the lead role that horticulture must play in improving livelihood options, diversification of agriculture, and higher income to farmers.