What is Horticulture?
Horticulture is the art of growing plants in gardens for the production of food & medicinal ingredients or for convenience & decorative purposes. Horticulturists are farmers who grow flowers, fruits & nuts, vegetables & herbs such as ornamental trees & lawns.
The study and practice of horticulture dates back thousands of years. Horticulture has contributed to the transition from nomadic human communities to sedentary or semi-sedentary horticultural communities. Horticulture is divided into different categories, which focus on growing and processing different types of plants and foods for specific purposes. In order to preserve the science of horticulture, many organizations around the world promote, encourage and support the development of horticulture.
Horticulture involves the reproduction and cultivation of crops to improve growth, yield, quality, nutritional value & resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stressors. It also includes plant protection, landscape restoration, land management, landscape and garden design, construction & maintenance, and construction of trees. The word horticulture is followed by agriculture; comes from the Latin words Hortus and cultura, which means “garden” and “nursery”. Unlike agriculture, horticulture does not include intensive crop production & large-scale plant production or animal husbandry. In addition, horticulture focuses on the use of small plots with many different mixed crops, while agriculture focuses on one large main crop at a time.
How is it growing in India?
The horticultural sector in India contributes about 33% to the gross value added (GVA) of agriculture, which makes a very significant contribution to the Indian economy. In addition to ensuring food security in the country, it offers alternative employment opportunities in rural areas, diversification of agricultural activities, and increased farmers’ incomes. India now produces about 320.48 million tons of horticultural products, which increases the production of food cereals, which also comes from a small area (25.66 million ha. For horticulture versus 127.6 million ha. For cereals. In food).
The productivity of horticultural crops is higher compared to the productivity of food cereals (12.49 t / ha versus 2.23 t / ha). India has become a world leader in the production of various fruits such as mango, banana, guava, papaya, sapota, pomegranate, lime & aonla (amla); and is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables. In addition, India continues to dominate the production of herbs, coconut & cashew nuts. Of the new crops, kiwis, cucumbers, kinnow, date palm & oil palm have been successfully introduced in the country.
The launch of the National Horticultural Mission has strengthened the production and productivity of horticultural crops. Horticultural crop productivity increased by about 38% between 2004-05 and 2019-20 (2nd preliminary estimate). The growing demand for horticultural products due to increased health awareness, growing income, export demand & a growing population poses challenges for further increasing the production and productivity of horticultural crops. The issue of climate change has created substantial uncertainty and risk, mainly due to the limitations of production systems.
Previous trends have shown an increase in the production of horticultural products in India over the years. Vegetable production in 2009-10 was 161 million MT, which increased to 193.6 million MT in 2020-21. For fruit, production increased from 82.5 million MT in 2009-10 to 103.23 million MT in 2020-21. The area in production also increased. The area of fruit production increased from 6,383 thousand hectares in 2009-10 to 6,963 thousand hectares in 2020-21. For vegetables, the region increased from 8,494 hectares in 2008-09 to 10,711 hectares in 2020-21.
The horticulture industry of India is on the verge to rise as innovation in the farming sector is boosting young agripreneurs to contribute and create skilled jobs. Already many agri-tech startups have proved their potential to make a presence and revolutionize traditional farming methods.
It’s up to the government and the young potential candidates who have the opportunity to utilize their skills in the field with proper integration of ancient farming techniques and the latest technology.