Producing more on less

Taking a stock of Horticulture Technology Mission

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PROFESSOR. A.A.SOFI

Horticulture Technology Mission was started by the Union Ministry of Agriculture in North Eastern States and Sikkim, subsequently it was implemented in other Himalayan states which included J&K, H.P. and Uttaranchal. It has 4 mini-missions viz; MMI, MMII, MMIII and MM IV.
MM1 has mandate for production of Nucleus Planting Material and its propagation /multiplication and establishment of bud-banks of superior quality planting materials.
MMII has mandate of area expansion, rejuvenation of senile/low producing orchards and mass multiplication of quality planting material in the departmental as well as in departmentally registered nurseries and establishment of bud-banks of superior quality planting materials (for use in their nurseries and Departmentally registered nurseries)
MMIII has mandate for establishment of market management systems
MM IV has mandate for establishing cold chain system by establishing Cold\Controlled Atmospheric Storages and value addition.
The mandate for MMI was given to State Agricultural Universities and ICAR. Institutes for production of Nucleus Planting Materials and their mass–scale multiplication was to be made by the agricultural universities, ICAR Institutes, Departments of Horticulture (in their nurseries as well as by registered nursery growers registered with the Deptt. of Horticulture)
While some efforts are being made by the SKUAST ( K& J) and Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture, Rangreth and Model Horticulture Station of Horticulture Deptt. of Horticulture at Zainapora, Shopian and few Departmental nurseries, for production of Nucleus Planting Material of Dwarfing and Semi- Dwarfing Rootstocks and  superior quality  planting material but the same could not keep pace with  the requirement of area expansion and rejuvenation programmes of the Department.
The major bottleneck has been lack of dwarfing/semi-dwarfing clonal   rootstocks  and inadequate establishment of bud banks for providing  scions of superior quality cultivars to the  registered nursery growers and non-availability of irrigation.
No doubt, some areas have been brought under area expansion and rejuvenation, but same has been done by planting conventional planting materials. The aim was to make area expansion as well as rejuvenation with superior quality planting materials raised on dwarfing and semi- dwarfing clonal rootstocks which would commence bearing after only 2-3 years in comparison to 7-8 years with conventional planting materials raised on seedling rootstocks. The objective was to achieve higher productivity (40-50t/ha in comparison to 10-11t/ha with conventional system) by providing drip irrigation under the scheme financed by the National Horticulture Board.
With the conventional plantation for area expansion and rejuvenation we cannot compete with countries like Austria which has average productivity of 90t/ha(though they grow apples in smaller area in comparison to our area ). As our state is also land locked our motto should be to produce more per unit area because our average holdings are very small and most of the land is coming under roads, buildings, railways etc.
The   Department  of Horticulture Planning and Marketing has made some efforts in establishing satellite markets but most of these lack certain infrastructural and other facilities to make these more viable and also focus on establishing other terminal markets and explore the possibilities of exporting apples and other fruits to Gulf countries.
The Horticulture Produce and Marketing Corporation could not make necessary efforts in establishing cool chain system and in establishing sufficient number of Cold/ Controlled Atmospheric Storages for efficient storage and for regulating the supply with demand, processing ,value addition in public/private sectors as well as in export, the need for which is becoming inevitable  with the increase in area as well as in production.
As nature has bestowed us with agro-climatic conditions most conducive for growth and development of varied types of fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, medicinal  and  aromatic plants etc. which need to be harnessed through proper planning and execution, we need to go hi-tech  by importing latest biotic and abiotic resistant dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks in large number and multiply those in sufficient numbers to cater to future requirements  and also procure latest superior quality cultivars and establish their bud-banks in agricultural universities, Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture, Horticultural Departmental nurseries and provide same to the registered nursery growers and impose strict quality checks of planting materials by an expert group of experts from Agricultural Universities, CITH, Department  of   Horticulture and Progressive growers for providing quality planting materials to the growers
The state Govt. needs to provide water for establishment of irrigation under the integrated watershed development projects in kandi  areas for providing  drip irrigation system to fruit crops and sprinkler/ drip irrigation in plain areas for vegetables, ornamentals, medicinal and aromatic plants in order to make efficient and judicious use of water resources for increasing the productivity and improving the quality with already existing  financial assistance scheme of National Horticulture Board.
With increase in production there has to be focus on post harvest and market management to avoid glut in the market during peak season and provide necessary cold/Controlled Atmospheric Storages for regulating the market and despatching fruits & vegetables etc. to terminal markets outside the state as per the demand for fetching higher returns to the growers and providing quality fruits & vegetables etc .to consumers at reasonable rates. There is also need to establish processing and value addition units where the second   grade   fruits / vegetables can be processed and value added for fetching better returns to growers and for providing jobs to educated unemployed youth.     
The Mission can prove to be successful only when Superior Quality Planting Material is raised on Virus free dwarfing and semi- dwarfing rootstocks by the State Agricultural Universities, Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture, Deptts. Of Horticulture/Agriculture and their registered nurseries under strict Quality Control, provided with irrigation by the state Govt. which needs to be utilized efficiently and judiciously by Drip/ sprinkler methods and proper implementation of Package of   practices   developed  by  the SAUs and CITH viz;  pollination, canopy, water, nutritional, plant protection, harvest and post-harvest management, backed by proper market  management  by  Horticulture Planning & Marketing  Department and   efficient  storage and value addition by Horticulture Produce & Marketing Corporation with focus on Cool Chain System.

Author is (Former Director CITH) & Emeritus Scientist ICAR.
draasofi@yahoo.com    

Lastupdate on : Thu, 29 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 29 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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