The Institute spread its sphere of Research activities to the length and breadth of the Nation by establishing its experimental stations at Lucknow, Nagpur, Ranchi, Godhra, Chettalli and Gonikopal. Over the years these experiment stations have grown in size and today they stand as independent institutes, however, retaining the Chettalli and Gonicoppal under its fold. As of now, the IIHR has its main research station at Hessaraghatta, Bengaluru with 263 ha of land and Regional experiment station at Bhuvaneshwar in Orissa with two Krishi Vigyan Kendras both located in Karnataka state at Gonikopal in Kodagu and Hirehalli in Tumkur districts. Apart from this, the Project Coordinating Cell of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Fruits is also located at the institute at Bengaluru.
The physical growth of the Institute could be viewed in two phases. The first phase is from 1970 to 1990, wherein emphases were laid on land development and buildings. During this phase, the area for carrying out research and the area for laboratory buildings, supporting buildings and other essential office buildings was earmarked. Accordingly, the entire arable land was divided into well-defined nine blocks for carrying out research and independent buildings for various divisions and departments with laboratories were built.
The second phase of the physical growth was after 1990 during which emphases was laid on creating ultra-modern world class, infrastructure facilities in terms of equipment and structures. Currently the institute has well defined 8 divisions namely, The Division of Fruit Crops, Division of Vegetable Crops, Division of Flower and Medicinal Crops, Division of Post Harvest Technology and Agricultural Engineering, Division of Crop Protection, Division of Natural Resources, Division of Basic Sciences and Division of Social Sciences and Training with more than 65 purpose oriented laboratories having state of art equipment like electron microscope, ultra-centrifuge, LC-MS, GC-MS, GC-EAD, AAS, ICP-OES, SEM, TEM, HPLC, GLC, FT-NIR, Gama Chamber etc., and infrastructures phenomics facility, CTGC facility, FATE facility and a series of poly houses and net houses, growth chambers, mist chambers, cold storage facilities, gene bank, local area network with video conferencing facilities, Seed processing and nursery units etc. Apart from this, the institute houses BESST-HORT-a Technology Business Incubator facility and an ultra-modern library, a conference hall, auditorium, training hostel, Bank, Hospital, essential quarters and few other facilities.
The Institute has also an Agriculture Technology Information Centre (ATIC), which is a single window agency for dissemination of information and technologies developed by the Institute. All the technological products and popular publications developed by the Institute are sold to the farmers and interested public through the agricultural technology information centre.
The main strength of the institute is excellent well-trained human resources. Presently the Institute has a total cadre strength of 714 staff with 150 Scientists 226 technical staff, 83 Administrative staff and 145 supporting staff. The Institute is headed by the Director and supported by various Heads of Divisions. The Director is also supported by the Chief Administrative Officer, who is the Head of the office and also a Senior Finance and Accounts Officer to monitor Audit and Accounts. Dr Debi Sharma is the Director of the Institute.
In the beginning years of the institute, the main research agenda of the institute was to increase the yields of horticultural crop varieties by developing high yielding varieties in fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and medicinal and aromatic plants and also develop advanced production technologies to increase the productivity of horticultural crops. With changing times and emergence of new challenges in the fields of productivities, crop production, crop protection and crop utilization, emphasis was laid on breeding varieties for biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, breeding F1 hybrids, developing integrated pest and disease management technologies, developing integrated water and nutrient management protocols towards optimum utilization of resources, developing Post Harvest Management practices to reduce the post harvest losses and further value additions, and frontier research areas like hi-tech horticulture, precision farming, information technology, biotechnological interventions to increase yields, protect crops from insect- pests, disease and viruses, and extension of shelf life of crop produces. Encompassing various goals and objectives of achieving sustainable development of horticulture, providing livelihood security, economic growth and nutritional security which have been challenged time and again by various obvious factors, the ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru has been carrying out research in fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, medicinal and aromatic plants and mushrooms with the following mandate:
- To Undertake Basic And Applied Research For Developing Strategies To Enhance Productivity And Utilization Of Tropical And Sub-Tropical Horticulture Crops Viz., Fruits, Vegetables, Ornamentals, Medicinal And Aromatic Plants And Mushrooms.
- To Serve As A Repository Of Scientific Information Relevant To Horticulture.
- To Act As A Centre For Training For Up Gradation Of Scientific Manpower In Modern Technologies For Horticulture Production And
- To Collaborate With National And International Agencies In Achieving The Above Objectives.
Twice, i.e. during the year 1999 and 2011, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi awarded the Best Institute Award to IIHR , Bangalore in reorganization of institutes progress, achievements, and its contribution to the field of horticulture. The other feathers in the cap of the institute are; the institute is recognized as the post graduate research and training centre in horticulture by good number of universities as a part of PG Education, the main centre for production and supply of breeders seeds of vegetable crop varieties established linkages with many international research organizations for research and human resource development. The pollen Cryo-Bank of the institute features in the Limca Book of Records 2001, recognized as the Team of Excellence in Biotechnology and Post Harvest Management, has a product development laboratory to up scale the technologies and also for entrepreneurship development and the DBT-ICAR National Facility for virus –diagnosis and quality control in tissue culture plants and also the Phyto-sanitary certification agency for seeds and planting materials.
In the recent past, the institute has developed ICAR-IIHR Seed Portal for online sales of seeds of high yielding and disease resistant varieties and hybrids of 17 crops and 28 varieties developed from the institute. This e-commerce portal has capability of capturing information back hand of application on farmers, seed lot, seed sorting & grading, seed testing & retesting for quality, seed packing & storage for seed processing. Besides, it provides farmers options for seed cataloguing, seed browsing crop- and variety-wise and shopping cart portlet. Special feature associated with the portal is harvesting of farmer information region, district & state-wise through initial customer registration and validation, that helps in populating information on spread of institute developed varieties across the geographical area faster and precisely, over the mouse click. The portal’s look and functionality is similar to that of any other commercial e-business portals like Amazon and Flipkart. The Seed Portal is simple, e-security compliant and user friendly, and helpful in providing accountability, traceability and transparency in seed dealings.
Research work carried out during the last four decades with the above objectives has paid rich dividends in the terms of release of more than 170 varieties and hybrids and development of good number of sustainable production, protection and post-harvest management technologies.
In fruit crops, the institute has released three varieties in papaya, 5 hybrids in mango, 3 varieties in guava, 5 hybrids in grapes, one variety each in pomegranate, annona, ber and passion fruit. Recently released high yielding Pink fleshed Arka Prabhat papaya hybrid, Arka Kiran, a red-fleshed hybrid guava and Arka Sahan, a hybrid of annona with large globules and less seeds hold better promise and are gaining more popularity.
So far the Institute has developed and released 60 high yielding open pollinated varieties and 15 F1 hybrids in 24 vegetable crops resistant to pests and diseases for commercial cultivation, Arka Manik of Watermelon – triple resistant to pests and diseases, Arka Anamika in okra resistant to Yellow Vein Mosaic Virus and Arka Komal of French bean resistant to rust has spread to the length and breadth of the nation. High yielding varieties of tomato Arka Vikas, Arka Kalyan and Arka Niketan in onion have made significant impacts. In the recent years, the Institute has released tomato hybrid Arka Ananya, with combined resistant to Tomato Leaf Curl Virus and Bacterial wilt, chilli hybrids Arka Meghana tolerant to thrips and viruses, Arka Harita and Arka Suphal of chilli tolerant to powdery mildew, high yielding male sterility base chilli hybrid Arka Swetha, bacterial wilt brinjal hybrid Arka Anand, high yielding onion hybrids based on male sterility Arka Lalima and Arka Kirthima are a few which have made significant impact in production and higher economic gains.
In the area of ornamental crops, the Institute has evolved improved varieties in gladiolus, chrysanthemum, bougainvillea, hibiscus, tube rose, rose, China aster, carnation, gerbera and crossandra. China aster varieties Poornima, Kamini, Vilet cushion and Shashank, tube rose cultivars, Shringar, Suvasini, Prajwal and Vibahv and crossandra variety Arka Ambara have become very popular among the farmers.
In the field of mushrooms, a spore less mutant of oyster mushroom, milky mushroom, Jews ear mushroom and a medicinal mushroom with export potentials have been developed.
In the field of production technologies the Institute has standardized the technology of high density planting of banana and pineapple which are being practiced by all most all fruit growers these crops. Grape rootstock Dog ridge, identified and released by the Institute has revolutionized grape cultivation in dry land and problematic soils. Integrated water and nutrient management schedules like drip irrigation, fertigation, application of fertilizer in the active root feeding zone, etc., for optimum utilization of resources for various fruits, vegetables and ornamental crops have been standardized. The Institute has also standardized leaf and petiole diagnostics for optimum recommendation of fertilizers for respective crops. In the recent years, the institute has standardized technology for foliar nutrition of micro nutrients and has commercially released mango special, banana special, citrus special and vegetable special for higher and quality yields. These technologies have already been commercialized, making these technologies available to cross section of the farming community. The causative factors for occurrence of Spongy tissue, a major problem in mango has been found and accordingly recommendations are made to overcome the problem. The Institute has also come out with biofertilizers like PSB, azospirallium, VAM etc.
In the field of plant protection, the Institute has standardized the technology of pest management using trap crops like African marigold for control of tomato fruit borer, mustard for control of DBM in Cole crops, botanicals and plant products like neem soap and pongamia soap for control of major pests. Bio-control agents and micro organisms like Trichoderma, Pseudonomous fluoroscence, Paecilomyces lilacinus etc. for control of soil borne diseases and nematodes have been standardized. The mango fruit fly which has become the major limiting factor for export has been overcome by standardizing a pheromone trap which has been commercialized by the Institute. Simultaneously, integrated disease management protocols and diagnostic kits for viruses have also been developed.
In the field of post harvest technology, the Institute has standardized technology to extend the storage life at various temperatures, standardized the protocol for MOP and shrink wrapping technology. Value addition through product development has been a priority area, in which the Institute has developed protocols for preparation of osmo-dehydrated products, fruit based beverages like mango squash, passion fruit squash, aonla squash, passion fruit banana blends, various culinary pastes and purees, lactic acid fermentation of vegetables and protocols for minimally processed foods have been standardized. In the frontier areas and precision technology, the Institute has standardized technology for production of tomato, colored capsicum, cucumbers and melons under protected conditions. The technology for production of nursery seedlings using pro trays has been further refined. In the field of biotechnology, macro propagation protocols for various crops and nucleic acid probes for many viruses have been developed. DNA finger printing techniques have also been developed for characterization and documentation of germplasm.