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Rising Emphasis on Nutrition Security Fuels Surge in Horticulture Farming in India

Context:

In recent times, there has been a notable change in dietary preferences in India, emphasizing nutrition security over simple calorie intake. To cater to the changing dietary requirements of a growing population, horticulture farming is witnessing a significant increase nationwide.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Overview of Horticulture Farming
  2. State of Horticulture Sector in India
  3. Challenges Confronting the Horticulture Sector in India

Overview of Horticulture Farming:

  • Definition: Horticulture is the branch of agriculture focused on intensively cultivating plants directly used by humans for food, medicinal purposes, and aesthetic satisfaction.
  • Scope: Involves the cultivation, production, and sale of vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and ornamental or exotic plants.
  • Etymology: The term “Horticulture” is derived from the Latin words “hortus” (garden) and “cultūra” (cultivation).
  • Pioneers: L.H. Bailey is considered the Father of American Horticulture, while M.H. Marigowda is considered the Father of Indian Horticulture.
Classifications:
  • Pomology: Deals with planting, harvesting, storing, processing, and marketing of fruit and nut crops.
  • Olericulture: Involves producing and marketing vegetables.
  • Arboriculture: Encompasses the study, selection, and care of individual trees, shrubs, or other perennial woody plants.
  • Ornamental Horticulture: Further divided into Floriculture (production, use, and marketing of floral crops) and Landscape Horticulture (production and marketing of plants used for outdoor beautification).

State of Horticulture Sector in India:

  • Production Ranking: India is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables globally.
  • Economic Contribution: The Indian horticulture sector contributes approximately 33% to the agriculture Gross Value Added (GVA), making a substantial contribution to the Indian economy.
  • Production Volume: India produces around 320.48 million tons of horticulture produce, surpassing food grain production, with significantly less land area used for horticulture.
  • Productivity Comparison: Horticulture crop productivity is much higher than that of food grains, with a significant increase (38.5%) between 2004-05 and 2021-22.
  • Global Leadership: India leads in the production of certain vegetables (ginger and okra) and fruits (banana, mangoes, and papaya), according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
  • Export Ranking: India ranks 14th in vegetables and 23rd in fruits in terms of global exports, holding a mere 1% share in the global horticultural market.
  • Challenges: Around 15-20% of fruits and vegetables in India are wasted along the supply chain or at the consumer level, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Challenges Confronting the Horticulture Sector in India

Climate-Induced Risks:
  • Shifts in Weather Patterns: Significant challenge with changes in temperature, rainfall, and unpredictable weather events causing reduced yields and crop losses.
  • Extreme Events: Increased frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, and cyclones disrupting horticultural production and affecting crop quality.
Water Management Constraints:
  • Limited Irrigation Access: Growth hindrance for horticultural crops, especially in water-stressed regions, due to restricted access to irrigation water.
  • Depleting Water Resources: Unsustainable groundwater extraction and inefficient irrigation practices exacerbate water scarcity issues.
Pest and Disease Challenges:
  • Pesticide Resistance: Growing resistance of pests and diseases to traditional pesticides demands the development and adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
  • Invasive Species Threat: Introduction and spread of invasive pests like Desert locusts pose a significant threat, necessitating vigilant monitoring and effective management strategies.
Post-Harvest Concerns:
  • Inadequate Storage Facilities: Lack of proper infrastructure resulting in post-harvest losses, diminishing the shelf life and market value of horticultural produce.
Transportation and Cold Chain Limitations:
  • Cold Chain Insufficiency: Inadequate facilities for maintaining a cold chain lead to spoilage and wastage of perishable horticultural commodities during transportation.

-Source: Indian Express


April 2024
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