Friday, March 31st, 2023 02:31:48

Horticulture: The Growth Driver Of Indian Agriculture Sector

Updated: February 9, 2013 5:02 pm

In this first article of a three part series on Indian horticulture, the author discusses the role of horticulture as the growth driver of India’s agriculture GDP. The subsequent articles cover the global competitiveness of India’s agriculture, and the steps being taken to ensure that growth is both sustainable and inclusive


The horticulture sector, with a wide array of crops ranging from fruits and vegetables to orchids and nuts, mushrooms and honey, has been a driving force in stimulating a healthy growth trend in Indian agriculture. India is currently producing 257.2 million tonnes of horticulture produce from an area of 23 million ha. What is significant is that over the last decade, the area under horticulture grew by about 3.8 per cent per annum but production rose by 7.4 per cent per annum. Given the increasing pressure on land, the focus of growth strategy is on raising productivity by supporting high density plantations, protected cultivation, micro irrigation, quality planting material, rejuvenation of senile orchards and focus on post-harvest management to ensure that farmers do not lose their produce in transit from farm gate to the consumer’s plate.


With a production of 76.4 million tonnes, fruits accounts for about 30 per cent of the total production of horticulture crops. The area under fruit crops during 2011-12 was 6.6 million ha, which is almost 29 per cent of area under horticulture in India. The area under fruit crops has increased from 4.0 million ha in 201-02 to 6.7 million ha in 2011-12 with corresponding increase in production from 43.0 to 76.4 million tonnes. A large variety of fruits are grown in India. Of these, banana, mango, citrus, papaya, guava, grape, sapota, pomegranate, pineapple, aonla, litchi, pear, plum, walnut, etc are important. India accounts for 13 per cent of the total world production of fruits and leads the world in the production of mango, banana, papaya, sapota, pomegranate, acid lime and aonla.

The leading fruit-growing states are Maharashtra which accounts for 16.0 per cent of production followed by Andhra Pradesh (13.0 per cent), Gujarat (10.0 per cent), Karnataka (9.0 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (8.0 per cent), Tamil Nadu (7.0 per cent) and Bihar (5.0 per cent) which altogether contribute for about 68.0 per cent of the total fruit production in the country. Banana is the major fruit accounting for 35 per cent of total production followed by mango (4.0 per cent), citrus (11.0 per cent), papaya (6.0 per cent), others (17.7 per cent) in the country. It may also be mentioned that in the Himalayan states of Himachal and J&K the GDP from apples, plums, pears and stone fruits exceeds that of GDP from cereal crops.


Vegetables are also an important constituent in horticulture sector which are mostly low gestation and high income generating crops. Many vegetables are now grown under protected cultivation like green houses and shade nut houses with a scope for ‘off season’ production, which fetches remunerative prices. Vegetables occupied an area of 8.9 million ha during 2011-12 with a total production of 155.9 million tonnes having average productivity of 17.4 tonnes/ha. Vegetable production registered a quantum jump of 77 per cent between 2001-02 and 2011-12.

More than 40 kinds of vegetables belonging to different groups are grown in India in tropical, sub tropical and temperate regions. Important vegetable crops grown in the country are potato, tomato, onion, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, okra, chilies, beans, melons, etc. The leading vegetable growing state is West Bengal which accounts for 15 per cent of production followed by Uttar Pradesh (12 per cent), Bihar (10.0 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (8.0 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (6.5 per cent), Gujarat (6.4 per cent), Tamil Nadu (5.8 per cent), Maharashtra (5.7 per cent), Karnataka (5.0 per cent) and Haryana (3.0 per cent) which altogether contribute about 83.4 per cent of the total vegetable production in the country. Among vegetables, potato is the major vegetable accounting for 27.0 per cent followed by tomato (12 per cent), onion (11.0 per cent), brinjal (8.0 per cent), cabbage (5.4 per cent), cauliflower (4.7 per cent), okra (4.0 per cent), peas (2.5 per cent) and others (25.4 per cent) in the country. India is the second largest producer of vegetables after China and is a leader in production of vegetables like peas and okra. Besides, India occupies the second position in production of brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower and onion and third in potato and tomato in the world. Vegetables such as potato, tomato, okra and cucurbits are produced abundantly in the country.


India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products in the world. Over 100 plant species are known to yield spices and spice products among which around 50 are grown in India. India is known as the home of spices producing a wide variety of spices like black pepper, chilies, ginger, turmeric, garlic, cardamom and variety of tree and seed spices. Major spice producing states are Andhra Pradesh (19.0 per cent), Gujarat (15.0 per cent), Rajasthan (14.7 per cent), Karnataka (8.0 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (7.7 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (7.0 per cent). The spice production in India is currently estimated at 5.95 million tonnes from an area of about 3.21milion ha.

The production of spices in the country has registered a substantial increase over the last ten years with average annual growth of 5.8 per cent. Chili is the major spice crop occupying about 25 per cent of area under cultivation and contributing 22 per cent of total spice production in the country. Garlic accounts for 8.0 per cent of area with 21.0 per cent share in production, while turmeric accounts for 6.8 per cent of area with 19.6 per cent share in production.


India has made noticeable advance in the production of flowers, particularly cut flowers, which have a good potential for exports. During 2011-12, floriculture covered an area of 0.32 million ha with a production of 2.6 million tonnes of loose flowers and 75066 million numbers of cut flowers. This sector is generating higher income and employment opportunities especially for women.

While India has been known for growing traditional flowers such as jasmine, marigold, chrysanthemum, tuberose and aster, the commercial cultivation of cut flowers like roses, orchids, gladiolus, carnation, gerbera, anthurium and lilium has become popular in recent times. The important flower growing states are West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, the North-East, etc. Major area is devoted to production of marigold, jasmine, roses, chrysanthemum, tuberose, etc. The area under cut flowers having stems has increased manifold. Orchids, anthurium, lilium, gerbera and seasonal bulbous flowers are increasingly being grown both for domestic and export markets.

Growth in Exports

Not only have these impressive production figures ensured a steady supply for the domestic market, they have also made Indian horticulture exports globally competitive. Over the last decade, there has been a significant improvement in export earnings in horticulture.

The horticulture division is working closely with APEDA and state governments to ensure that infrastructure and institutional support for export is available to ensure that farmers can leverage export markets for higher incomes.


(To be continued)

By Sanjeev Chopra

(An IAS Officer, the author is Joint Secretary & Mission Director, National Horticulture Mission, Government of India. The views expressed are personal.)

Comments are closed here.