Horticulture Cluster Development Programme

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    Recently, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has virtually launched the Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP).

    About the CDP

    • It is a central sector programme implemented by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
      • NHB was set up in 1984 on recommendations of the “Group on Perishable Agricultural Commodities“, headed by Dr M. S. Swaminathan.
      • Headquartered at Gurugram.
    • The Ministry has identified 53 horticulture clusters, of which 12 have been selected for the pilot launch of the programme.
    • Based on the learnings from the pilot project, the programme will be scaled up to cover all the identified clusters.
    • Aims 
      • To grow and develop identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
      • To improve exports of the targeted crops by approximately 20 per cent and create cluster-specific brands to enhance the competitiveness of cluster crops.
    • It is expected to converge with other initiatives of the Government such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF).
      • AIF is a medium-long term financing facility for investment in projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets.
    • It will leverage the central sector scheme of the Ministry for Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations (FPOs).
    • The Cluster Development Agencies (CDAs) have been announced in selected clusters which will ensure an astute engagement of state governments and institutionalize learnings for future replication and scaling up of the programme in other clusters.

    Significance

    • It will address all major issues related to the Indian horti
    • culture sector including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing and branding.
    • It is designed to leverage geographical specialisation and promote integrated and market-led development of horticulture clusters.
    • It will benefit about 10 lakh farmers and related stakeholders of the value chain by almost doubling their incomes.
    • It is expected to attract an estimated investment of Rs. 10,000 crore when implemented in all the 53 clusters.

    Horticulture

    • The term horticulture is derived from two Latin words hortus, meaning ‘garden’, and cultura meaning ‘cultivation’ hence meaning, crops cultivated in a garden cultivation.
    • It is a science and art of production, utilisation and improvement of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other plants for human food, non-food uses and social needs.
    • It is perhaps the most important branch of agriculture and is further divided into four different branches namely Pomology, Olericulture, Floriculture and Post-harvest Technology.

    S. No.

    Name

    About

    1. Pomology
    • Derived from Latin words poma (fruit) and logus (study, knowledge or discourse).
    • Deals with the scientific study of fruit crops.
    2. Olericulture
    • Derived from Latin words olerus (vegetables) and cultura (cultivation).
    • Deals with the scientific study of vegetable crops, which are different from fruit crops. 
    3. Floriculture
    • Derived from Latin words florus (flower) and cultura.
    • Deals with the scientific study of flowering and ornamental crops.
    • Landscaping is the art of beautifying a piece of land using garden designs, methods and plant material.
    4. Post-harvest Technology
    • Deals with the principles and practices of handling, packaging and processing of harvested crops to increase their storage life and availability.

    Features of Horticulture

    • These require intense care in planting, carrying out intercultural operations, manipulation of growth, harvesting, packaging, marketing, storage and processing.
    • These crops are a source of variability in farm produce and diets.
    • They contain health benefiting compounds and medicines.
    • These crops have aesthetic value and protect the environment.
    • Fruit and plantation crops can be cultivated in places where the slope of the land is uneven or undulating and are useful for cultivation in the wasteland or poor quality soil.

    Importance

    • Diverse agro-climatic conditions in India ensure the production of all types of fresh fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants.
    • Horticulture crops perform a vital role in the Indian economy by generating employment, providing raw material to various food processing industries, and higher farm profitability due to higher production and export earnings from foreign exchange.
    • The comparative production per unit area of horticultural crops is higher than field crops.
    • Such crops are of high value, labour intensive and generate employment throughout the year. It has gained prominence over contributing a growing share in Gross Value Addition of agriculture.
    • They have national and international demand and are a good source of foreign exchange.
    • It is imperative to cater to the country’s estimated demand of 650 MT of fruits and vegetables by the year 2050.

    Challenges

    • Faces high post-harvest loss and gaps in post-harvest management due to less or limited input by machinery and equipment.
    • Lack of supply chain infrastructures like cold storage and well-connected transport networks.
    • Difficulties in setting up due to higher input costs and limited availability of market intelligence, mainly for exports.
    • There are no safety net provisions like the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for foodgrains.
    • The production of horticultural commodities is far less as compared to the existing demand in the country.

    Suggestions

    • Scope for enhancing the productivity of Indian horticulture through technology-led development.
    • Reduction of post-harvest losses.
    • Value addition and modified packaging for long storability and transportation.
    • Insect pollinators for i
    • Improve productivity and quality of the crops by using insect pollinators, regulating nutrient dynamics and interactions and using fertilisers.
    • Development of varieties for cultivation in non-traditional areas and varieties tolerant/resistant to various biotic and abiotic stresses.
    • Bioenergy and solid waste utilisation to make it more efficient and eco-friendly.
    • Emphasis on resource allocation, infrastructure development, more research and development (R&D), technological up-gradation and better policy framework.
    Steps Taken by the Government

    • Increased focus on planting material production and cluster development programmes.
    • Development of improved techniques for the production of disease-free quality planting materials.
    • Technology up-gradation for water and nutrient efficiency through micro-irrigation and fertigation
    • Farm mechanisation to increase harvesting and processing efficiency and to reduce crop loss has been implemented by developing horticulturalists.
    • Development of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for various medicinal plants.
    • Development of low cost environment-friendly cool chambers for on-farm storage.
    • Regional and Crop-specific Training and Demonstration Programmes.
    • Credit push through Agri Infra Fund, formation and promotion of the Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) are the right steps in this direction.
    • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, which is a centrally sponsored scheme.
      • Aim: To realise the potential of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew and cocoa.

    Source: PIB