Horticulture is the key component for meeting the nutritional needs of the growing population and also for improving the income of small and marginal farmers. Horticulture sector encompasses fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, medicinal and aromatic plants, plantation crops, spices and mushrooms. Indian Horticulture has grown by leaps and bounds after independence surpassing the agriculture production during the last decade mainly due to the hard work and enthusiasm of farmers, and timely scientific and policy interventions. Horticulture production touched 347 million tonnes from an area of 28 million hectares during 2021-22. It estimated that the production would touch 352 million tonnes during 2022-23 from the same area registering an increase of 1.34% over previous estimate. Since independence, the horticulture production has grown fourteen-fold and this has enabled our country to move from food security to nutrition security also.
Over the years, India has emerged as a major producer of horticultural crops and the share of horticulture in the economy has been increasing. This sector contributes about 33% of the gross value to the agricultural GDP from 18% of the cultivated area. Besides, the horticulture sector is contributing significantly to the Indian economy by way of employment generation, establishment of food processing industries, increased production, accrual of higher profits per unit area and increased export earnings contributing to exchequer of foreign exchange. The technologies developed at IIHR are contributing more than Rs. 30,000 crore annually in the ever-growing horticulture sector the technologies developed at IIHR are contributing more than Rs. 30,000 crore annually in the ever-growing horticulture sector.
At present the total contribution of horticulture to national economy is over INR.10 lakh crores annually. As horticultural commodities are produced seasonally and are perishable, it registers fluctuation of prices and supply. Efforts are made to provide best marketing ecosystem including building of cold chain infrastructure in the country. With access to knowledge and new technology, younger farmers are getting attracted to precision farming, value addition and there by generating better incomes. This also helps in tapping the export opportunities and restricting imports in certain cases.
I wish to state that the recent initiatives like Natural farming, Precision Horticulture, Smart/Digital Horticulture, Genome editing are being planned at the Institute. The farmer friendly initiatives like Online Seed Portal, Arka Samachar, Arka Vyapaar etc were already taken up during the last four years by the Institute to cater to the needs of stakeholders. Since the launch of online seed portal (May 2020), around Rs. 2.76 crores worth quality seeds has been delivered to farmers in almost all the states and union territories of the country at their door step, the service was appreciated especially during the period of Covid-19 pandemic.
Further, I am glad to inform about newer areas of work through Inter Institutional projects with ICMR, New Delhi for ‘Pharmacological Studies on Anti-Diabetic Properties of Jackfruit, Jamun& Bitter Gourd Products and Other Potential Fruit Products and with NHB & Asian Development Bank (ADB) for collaborative programme on Clean Plant programme for the Mango, Guava, Avocado and Dragon fruit. The Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Kamalam Fruit, is operational at the Institute for promotion of exotic and underutilized fruit crops.
The ICAR-IIHR, being the top most among ICAR Institutes, is continuously striving hard to cater to the needs of farmers, entrepreneurs, students and scientific community.