Horticulture, derived from the Latin words hortus (garden) and cultūra (cultivation) is the cultivation, production and sale of fruits and vegetables, flowers, herbs and ornamental plants. Horticulture can be further classified into four groups with specific areas of focus:
- Pomology – fruit and nut crops
- Olericulture – vegetables
- Arboriculture – trees, shrubs or other perennial woody plants
- Ornamental Horticulture – floral crops and landscape plants
There are various things that make horticulture more attractive than agriculture. To begin with, horticulture production costs less in terms of inputs. It also consumes less water and can be done profitably on small farms. Another plus point is that horticulture crops are more resilient in the face of temperamental weather conditions and multiple crops can be planted at the same time. Finally, fruits and vegetables bring in more remuneration for the farmers as compared to food grains. Plus, the value of horticultural exports exceeds agricultural exports. All this is good news for farmers, especially small and marginal farmers.
Over the years, India has emerged as a major producer of horticultural crops. In 2019-20, the country recorded its highest ever horticulture production of over three crore tonnes from an area of 250 lakh hectares. In fact, it even surpassed the agricultural production of the country. Seeing the growing potential of horticulture, the Government of India has allocated ₹2250 Crore for development of this sector in 2021-22.
Government intervention has definitely helped the horticulture sector. The ‘Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ (MIDH) scheme which came into effect from 2014-15, has played an important role. It has increased the area under horticulture production and introduced best practices to farms. This in turn has improved the quality of produce and farm yields. The MIDH has single handedly made India self-sufficient in the horticulture sector.
Despite the huge potential posed by the horticulture sector, it still faces many challenges. The government has fixed no Minimum Support Price for popular horticulture products like mangoes, bananas, cucumber, etc. High price fluctuations brought on by seasonality, lack of timely transport, cold storage facilities, obsolete machinery, bad supply chain infrastructure, etc. are real problems that hinder horticulture production.
Introducing better quality seeds and plants, educational inputs, modern equipment and machinery, post-harvest management practices, agritech solutions, etc. can help tremendously here.
Agritech solutions are particularly attractive here owing to the fact that they are inexpensive and easily accessible. Such solutions are already changing the way various players in the agri supply chain conduct business.
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