Boosted by rising demand and better storage & transport, fruits, vegetables, spices are among the new growth areas for Indian agriculture.
For the first time, total horticultural production, at 268.9 million tons, surpassed food grain production, at 257.1 million tons, in 2012-13. Horticultural production includes fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, such as tea, coffee and rubber, and spices. While vegetable production contributes 60% to total horticultural production, fruits account for 30%.
India is home to a variety of fruits and vegetables, and is now the world’s second-largest producer. Agricultural land under horticultural cultivation has more than doubled over the last two decades.
In 1991-92, the total land under horticultural crops was reported to be 12.77 million hectares, which has increased to 23.69 million hectares by 2012-13, an increase of 85%. Total production has increased nearly 2.8 times during this period, with productivity increasing 1.5 times.
Famers could be moving towards horticultural production due to increased demand for healthy and fresh farm products in organized urban markets, itself a reflection of rising prosperity. A higher shelf life of fruits and vegetables due to better refrigeration, transportation and accessibility to markets appears to have boosted horticultural production.
Total fruit production in the country increased 8.5% to 81 million tons between 2010-11 and 2012-13. India is the largest producer of mango, banana, papaya, sapota, pomegranate, acid lime and aonla.
India grows more than 40 kinds of vegetables. West Bengal tops with a 15.7% share of total vegetable production in the country in 2012-13. There has been an increase of 10.6% in total vegetable produce in the country from 2010-11 to 2012-13 with total output reaching 162 million tons (MT).
Major vegetables grown in India include potato, tomato, onion, brinjal etc. India leads the world in the production of peas and okra, while it is ranked second in the production of brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage and onion. India is also the largest vegetable producer after China. India produces 16 million tonne of vegetables compared with China’s 57 million tons.
India’s productivity is the lowest compared to the top 10 countries around the world with just 17.6 MT/Ha whereas Spain tops with 39.3 MT/Ha. The Indian government is trying to boost exports. A Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) is being implemented during 2014-15, providing new infrastructure development, market promotion, boosting quality and transport. The National Horticulture Mission, set up by the government in 2005-06, has also helped the sector evolve over the years.