Horticulture Sector in India | 24 Feb 2024

For Prelims: Horticulture farming, Pomology, Olericulture, Arboriculture, Ornamental, Floriculture, Landscape, Horticulture, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, Green Revolution - Krishonnati Yojana, National Horticulture Mission, Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States, National Horticulture Board, Central Institute for Horticulture, India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA), Horticulture Cluster Development Programme, National Horticulture Board (NHB) , Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Seed Technology

For Mains: Horticulture and its contribution in the economy.

Source: IE

Why in News? 

In recent years, India has witnessed a significant shift in dietary preferences, with a growing emphasis on nutrition security rather than mere calorie intake

  • To meet the evolving dietary needs of a burgeoning population, horticulture farming is experiencing a notable upsurge across the nation. 

What is Horticulture Farming?

  • Horticulture is the branch of agriculture concerned with intensively cultured plants directly used by humans for food, medicinal purposes and aesthetic gratification.
  • It is the cultivation, production and sale of vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, ornamental or exotic plants.
  • The term Horticulture is derived from the Latin words hortus (garden) and cultÅ«ra (cultivation).
  • L.H. Bailey is considered the Father of American Horticulture and M.H. Marigowda is considered the Father of Indian Horticulture.
  • Classification: 
    • Pomology: Planting, harvesting, storing, processing, and marketing of fruit and nut crops.
    • Olericulture: Producing and marketing vegetables.
    • Arboriculture: Study, selection and care of individual trees, shrubs or other perennial woody plants.
    • Ornamental Horticulture: It has two subparts:
      • Floriculture: Production, use and marketing of floral crops.
      • Landscape Horticulture: Production and marketing of plants used to beautify the outdoor environment.

What is the State of Horticulture Sector in India?

  • India is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables.
  • The Indian horticulture sector contributes about 33% to the agriculture Gross Value Added (GVA) making a very significant contribution to the Indian economy.
  • India is currently producing about 320.48 million tons of horticulture produce which has surpassed the food grain production, that too from much less area (25.66 million Ha. for horticulture against 127.6 M. ha. for food grains).
  • Productivity of horticulture crops is much higher compared to productivity of food grains (12.49 tones/ha against 2.23 tones/ha.).
  • Productivity of horticulture crops has increased by about 38.5% between 2004-05 and 2021-22.
  • According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), India leads in the production of certain vegetables (ginger and okra) and fruits (banana, mangoes and papaya).
  • In terms of export, India is ranked 14th in vegetables and 23rd in fruits, and its share in the global horticultural market is a mere 1%.

What are the Challenges Faced by the Horticulture Sector in India?

  • Climate Change Vulnerability:
    • Erratic Weather Patterns: Shifts in temperature, rainfall, and unpredictable weather events pose a significant challenge to horticultural crops, leading to reduced yields and crop losses.
    • Extreme Events: Increasing frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, and cyclones disrupt horticultural production and affect crop quality.
  • Water Management Issues:
    • Water Scarcity: Limited access to irrigation water, coupled with inefficient water management practices, hampers the growth of horticultural crops, especially in water-stressed regions.
    • Overexploitation of Water Resources: Unsustainable groundwater extraction and inefficient irrigation techniques lead to depletion of water resources, exacerbating water scarcity issues.
  • Pests and Diseases:
    • Pesticide Resistance: Increasing resistance of pests and diseases to conventional pesticides necessitates the development and adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
    • Invasive Species: Introduction and spread of invasive pests (e.g. Desert locusts) and diseases pose a threat to horticultural crops, requiring vigilant monitoring and management strategies.
  • Post-Harvest Losses and Infrastructure Constraints:
    • Inadequate Storage Facilities: Lack of proper storage infrastructure results in post-harvest losses, reducing the shelf life and market value of horticultural produce.
    • Cold Chain and Transportation Challenges: Insufficient cold chain facilities and inadequate transportation networks lead to spoilage and wastage of perishable horticultural commodities.

How can the Horticulture Sector be Improved?

  • Adoption of Climate-Smart Practices:
    • Promote the adoption of climate-resilient crop varieties and sustainable farming practices to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on horticulture.
    • Invest in research and development of drought-tolerant and heat-resistant crop varieties suitable for changing climatic conditions.
  • Efficient Water Management:
    • Encourage the use of drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and efficient water-saving technologies to optimise water use efficiency in horticulture.
    • Implement water management strategies such as water pricing mechanisms and watershed management initiatives to address water scarcity issues.
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management:
    • Promote the adoption of Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPM) practices, emphasising biological control, cultural practices, and judicious use of pesticides.
    • Strengthen surveillance and early detection systems to monitor and manage pest and disease outbreaks effectively.
  • Investment in Infrastructure and Value Chain Development:
    • Upgrade and expand cold storage facilities, packhouses, and transportation networks to reduce post-harvest losses and improve market access for horticultural farmers.
    • Facilitate public-private partnerships and investment in infrastructure development to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the horticultural value chain.
  • Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer:
    • Provide training and extension services to horticultural farmers on modern farming techniques, good agricultural practices, and market-oriented production.
    • Foster collaboration between research institutions, universities, and agricultural extension agencies to disseminate best practices and technological innovations in horticulture.

What are the Government Initiatives to Improve Horticulture?

  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH):
    • About: 
      • MIDH is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.
      • Nodal Ministry: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is implementing MIDH (since 2014-15) under Green Revolution - Krishonnati Yojana.
      • Funding Pattern: 60%/40% contribution of Union and states (except states in North East and Himalayas)
        • For North Eastern States and Himalayan States, the Union government contributes 90%.
    • MIDH Sub-Schemes:
      • National Horticulture Mission (NHM): It is being implemented by State Horticulture Missions (SHM) in selected districts of 18 States and 6 Union Territories.
      • Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States (HMNEH): HMNEH is being implemented for the overall development of Horticulture in North East and Himalayan states.
      • Central Institute for Horticulture (CIH): CIH was established at Medi Zip Hima, Nagaland in 2006-07 for providing technical backstopping through capacity building and training of farmers and Field functionaries in the North Eastern Region.
  • Horticulture Cluster Development Programme:
    • About: 
      • It is a central sector programme aimed at growing and developing identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
        • Horticulture cluster is a regional/geographical concentration of targeted horticulture crops.
      • Implementation: By the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. The ministry has identified 55 horticulture clusters.
    • Objectives:
      • The CDP aims to improve exports of targeted crops by about 20% and create cluster-specific brands to enhance the competitiveness of cluster crops.
      • To address all major issues related to the Indian horticulture sector including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing and branding.
      • To leverage geographical specialisation and promote integrated and market-led development of horticulture clusters.
      • To converge with other initiatives of the Government such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.


  • To attain demand-driven production, increased productivity, effective credit and risk management, and improved market connections, there is a necessity to reinforce multi-stakeholder partnerships involving farmers, government, consumers, industry, and academia/research. 
  • As India strives to emerge as a leading global hub for fruits and vegetables (F&V), the path forward will be characterised by collaborative endeavours and a collective dedication to fostering tangible income and livelihood advancements for the nation's small-scale farmers.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q.1 Assess the role of National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticulture farms. How far has it succeeded in increasing the income of farmers? (2018)

Q.2 What are the present challenges before crop diversification? How do emerging technologies provide an opportunity for crop diversification? (2021)

Q.3 Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How have these revolutions helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (2017)