labels: foods / beverages, industry - general
Horticulture set to usher in healthier timesnews
Suneeta Kaul
27 November 2002

Ahmedabad: Round bananas or elongated oranges, anyone? Or a juicier variety of apple, sweeter litchi or more phosphorus-rich banana? The day is not far when such innovative products might hit the market, provided biotechnology is used extensively in the horticulture sector of the country.

Says J P Negi, managing director, National Horticulture Board (NHB), “The use of biotechnology in the arena of horticulture can have immense benefits. It can lead to increase in yield and improve the quality of products. With the use of biotechnology, one can change the colour, size and shape and also the taste and sweetness of fruits and this can yield rich dividends.”

Negi, who recently attended the international convention and exhibition on the agro and food processing industry — Agri-Fare 2002 — held at Ahmedabad, says that so far, the area under horticulture is only 157 lakh hectares out of a total 1,655 lakh hectares of land under agriculture farming.

“This is only 9.5 per cent,” rues Negi. He adds that out of the total 1,525 lakh tonnes of horticulture products, fruits account for only 454 lakh tonnes, while vegetables account for 939 lakh tonnes.

“The country has about 138 lakh hectares of cultivable wasteland, which has, so far, remained without use. The government could, at least, encourage afforestation on this land in order to create job opportunities for locals.”

Negi also appeals for increase in the allocation of funds for the horticulture sector. “Moreover, the investment made by the private sector in agriculture is not encouraging. It stands at just Rs 757.8 crore all over the country. There is potential for much more. We are trying to get entrepreneurs to invest in post-harvest management, establishment of a cold chain and proper refrigeration facilities in order to make all sorts of fruits and vegetables available throughout the country.”

Here is to healthier times.

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Horticulture set to usher in healthier times