India's 2016-17 horticultural production hits 300 min tonnes

India, with an estimated production of 300 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables in 2016-17, has emerged the second-largest producer of horticultural crops after China, minister of agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh has said.

Speaking at a World Orange Day 2017 event in Nagpur, the minister said research and development projects in horticulture crops have yielded encouraging results, as a result, the production of horticulture crops has exceeded foodgrain production, despite adverse climatic conditions.

According to an estimate, the country is expected to produce 300 million tonnes of horticulture crops on 25 million hectares of land during 2016-17 in which contribution of fruit is significant, he said. The record achievement includes 42 million tonnes of fruits on 6.5 million hectares of land, he added.

In terms of area, the citrus fruits hold second position (1.04 lakh hectare) and third (12 million tonnes) in production.

In view of the importance of orchards in maintaining nutrient security, providing employment and conserving the environment, the agriculture ministry is implementing Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture across the nation, he said. The School of Horticultural Sciences department of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), along with its 23 institutes, 11 All India Coordinated Research projects and 2 All India Network projects are providing necessary technical cooperation and scientific research assistance to the horticulture mission, he added.

The government established a Central Citrus Research Institute (CCRI) in Nagpur in 1985 with an objective to develop research and necessary techniques for citrus fruits and in 1986 it was upgraded to National Research Centre for Citrus. He said in 2014, the government upgraded this centre to the central institute. A sub-centre of the CCRI was established on 42.4-acre land in 2017 in Biswanath Chariali in Biswanath district of Assam with an objective to accelerate research and development work on citrus fruits in North Eastern states.

He said the ICAR is implementing All India Coordinated Fruits Crop Research Project in 10 centres of 8 states, viz. Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka. Keeping in view the needs of the specific area, necessary research, technical training, and demonstrations are being carried out on citrus fruits. In the last 4 years, the government has allocated a sum of Rs23 crore to these centres.

In addition to this, government has allotted a sum of Rs13.68 crore (Rs.2 crore and 73 lakh per year) only to the institute situated in Nagpur during 12th Five Year Plan, which has been increased to Rs13.4 crore only within a span of 3 years from 2017. Out of this Rs3.25 crore has been allocated for the year 2017-18 which is 20 per cent more as compared to the last 5 years' allocation, he pointed out.

The agriculture minister said that many ambitious schemes are being implemented for the integrated development of horticultural crops like informing the farmers of advanced production techniques, promoting the processing and marketing of products to promote the export. For this, two clusters will be developed in Amravati and Nagpur, he added.