The ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (ICAR-IIHR) graciously celebrated 57th Foundation Day on 5th September, 2023. The Institute under the auspices of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was established on 5th September, 1967 in New Delhi initially and subsequently shifted to Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru on 1st February, 1968. Dr. G. S. Randhawa, as founding Director for the long period (1967-1980), laid the strong foundation for IIHR's enduring legacy of excellence. The Institute has established itself as premier institute of ICAR due to relentless efforts of pioneering research and development in the field of horticulture for over five decades. The ICAR-IIHR has main institute at Bengaluru sprawling over 263 ha and experimental stations at Bhubaneshwar and Chettalli to cater to the needs of farming community of different regions of India. Notably, the Project Coordinating Unit of All India Coordinated Research Project on Fruits is also situated at ICAR-IIHR.
Under the stewardship of Prof. Sanjay Kumar Singh, Director of ICAR-IIHR since December 2022, the Institute is constantly at the forefront of excellence and innovation in horticultural research. In his welcome address, Prof. Singh acknowledged the invaluable contributions of both the past and present staff members in propelling the institute to greater heights. He emphasized the importance of assessing the progress achieved by the institute and setting the future targets for the benefit of stakeholders. . Prof. Singh extended his heartfelt congratulations to all the dedicated faculty, researchers, staff, and students who have played a pivotal role in building the institute's legacy. He highlighted premier status of the institute as it secured the top rank among ICAR institutes during 2019-20 and 2020-21 and expressed happiness for the idyllic location of the institute near to Hesaraghatta Lake, offering pollution free environment for undertaking research. He also highlighted the notable achievements and initiatives including innovative projects on Chilli, Marigold and conversion of floral waste to valuable resource as well as the pioneering efforts in vertical farming. Prof. S. K. Singh emphasized the importance of collaborative Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Agricultural Universities and Western Sydney University. Further, he mentioned about the recent inauguration of various infrastructure and incubation facilities by the Director-General of ICAR and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund contributions for research and development. Prof. Singh highlighted the institute's collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for Seed cleaning and packing facility and the establishment of a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Kamalam Fruit through MIDH (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture). Additionally, he mentioned about the new initiatives in Digital Horticulture in partnership with BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited), ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing), IIITB (International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore) etc. He envisaged the institute's role as an export hub for horticultural products, contributing to the growth of the horticulture sector.
Dr. Prakash Patil, Project Coordinator (Fruits) for ICAR-AICRP on Fruits, in his introductory remarks, stressed the profound significance and expanding responsibilities of ICAR-IIHR. Dr. Patil also delved into the remarkable merger of tropical and sub-tropical fruits into a single project (AICRP) situated at IIHR and having 50 centres across 22 states. He added that the planners had welcomed this initiative. He commended the project's seamless transition to paperless operation and extended heartfelt gratitude to all the contributors by cherished members of the "Arka family." Dr. P. Parvatha Reddy, Former Director of ICAR-IIHR, served as the Guest of Honour and extended congratulations to all the awardees. He emphasized the ongoing imperative of ensuring nutritional security amidst malnutrition and underscored the pivotal role of digital horticulture, AI/ML, and automation in horticulture.
Dr. V. B. Patel, ADG (F&P) at ICAR, New Delhi, graced the event as a Guest of Honour. In his address, Dr. Patel extended heartfelt congratulations to the awardees, fostering a sense of unity by warmly referring to them as members of the "Arka Family." He emphasized the profound significance of Teacher's Day and highlighted the enduring commitment to lifelong learning, urging everyone to continually strive for excellence in their respective pursuits. Dr. Patel specifically recognized and commended the significant impact of exceptional educators within the institute. He also acknowledged the enduring legacy of Dr. Randhawa in the field of vegetables and fruit crops, a legacy that continues to shape IIHR's research efforts. Dr. Patel acknowledged the institute's remarkable 57-yr journey, characterized by unwavering dedication and hard work. He proudly noted the IIHR's premier status and expressed boundless optimism for the future, envisioning IIHR as a global leader in horticultural research and development. He highlighted the institute's commitment to the establishment of MERU, a multidisciplinary education and research university, further solidifying its mission to make significant global contributions.
Shri R. Pugazhenthi, GM (HLS&SCB), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bengaluru, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. He expressed gratitude to ICAR-IIHR for giving the opportunity to collaborate and highlighted the role of technology, including IoT, data analytics, and digital horticulture, in addressing food security challenges and the evolving agricultural landscape. Mr. Pugazhenthi stressed the importance of leveraging the technology for the benefit of farmers, citing India's leadership in digital payments and its potential to optimize agriculture, reduce waste, and ensure food security of burgeoning population.
On this special occasion, the octogenarian retired staff members were honoured for their significant achievements contributing to growth and remarkable milestones of the institute through the dedicated service in various capacities. Each of them expressed immense joy and deep satisfaction about the extraordinary growth and development of the institute by reflecting their journey to its current laurel-adorned heights.
The institute also recognized and awarded the Best Teacher, Best Incubatee, Best Farmer, as well as staff members from Administration, Technical and supporting categories. Various sports events were conducted and the winners were honoured. In addition, "Darpan," a magazine created by students, was launched and two publications were released. The institute also celebrated the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Farmer Producer Companies, strengthening its commitment to agricultural development and collaboration with industry partners.