Policy-driven tech inputs an aid to horticulture production
Dimapur, February 18
India is the world’s second largest producer of food next to China and has the potential of being the biggest by its farm and food processing sector. Horticulture covering wide range of crops has emerged as an important sector for effective land use planning and improving the farm income.
This was stated by Horticulture Commissioner of the Government of India Dr.SK Malhotra who was delivering the keynote address during the conference ‘Technological interventions in agricultural sciences for enhanced productivity, nutritional quality and value addition (TIAS)’ on Tuesday at Hotel Acacia in Dimapur.
Horticulture production from 277.4 million for the year 2013-14 has surpassed food grain production to 260 million ton. This has been possible due to technology and favorable policy environment for development of horticulture acknowledged the Horticulture Commissioner.Contribution of horticulture to agricultural growth in India has been laudable during the 11th Plan period and the country witnessed an exceptional growth in production of fruits and vegetables and is the world leader in several crops. In the nutritional security of the people of India, fruits and vegetables play a significant role and it has been observed that any decrease in the availability of fruits and vegetables due to weather vagaries drastically trigger the inflation.
Moreover incomes to the farm are unstable because of number of unforeseen factors like weather, pest and disease outbreak and post harvest losses, marketing which necessitate the effective management highlighted Dr. Malhotra.
During the last two decade, the production of horticultural produce has increased manifold but the gap in demand and supply continues lamented Dr. Malhotra. At present he said there was a considerable gap between the gross production and net availability of fruits and vegetables where postharvest losses have also been identified as one of the reasons.
‘Most of the horticulture produces being perishable and seasonal in nature are prone to post harvest losses which ranged between 5.6 to 18% and the total value losses on all India basis was to the tune of Rs. 21,845 crore’ underlined Dr. Malhotra. The orientations of farmers have mostly been towards production in the past and the attitudes of farmers have been inattentive towards post harvest losses and there has been lack of quality consciousness.
Drawing attention of the experts, he said that India’s food chain was among the ‘most fragmented’ in the world. The lack of adequate cold chain infrastructure and the absence of a well-integrated food processing industry are the major identified reasons for heavy post harvest losses and wastages of the perishables, he said.
Agriculture and its associated sectors continue to be the biggest source of livelihood security for millions of people across the world, especially in the developing countries. Agriculture and rural development can be sustainable only when they are ecologically-sound, economically-viable, and socially-acceptable and based on science and technology.
The event was organized by the High Tech Horticultural Society of Uttar Pradesh, Central Institute of Horticulture, and co-sponsored by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with Society for Recent Development in Agriculture and Scientific Educational Research Society. The conference saw participating of experts from various fields of agriculture and horticulture from various parts of the country.