Horticulture Research in India— Infrastructure, Achievements, Impact, Needs and Expectations

Dr K.L. Chadha

ICAR National Professor (Hort.) & Former Deupty Director General (Hort.), ICAR
Division of Fruits & Horticultural Technology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110 012



Introduction and Cultivation of New Crops
Crop Improvement
Propagation of Quality Planting Material
Crop Protection
Post Harvest Management
Crop Improvement
Crop Production
Crop Protection
Post Harvest Management

India has a wide variety of climate and soil on which a large range of horticultural crops such as, fruits; vegetables, potato and other tropical tuber crops; ornamental, medicinal and aromatic plants; plantation crops; spices, cashew and cocoa are grown. After attaining independence in 1947, major emphasis was laid on achieving self sufficiency in food production. Development of high yielding wheat varieties and high production technologies and their adoption in areas of assured irrigation paved the way towards food security ushering in green revolution in the sixties. It, however, gradually became clear that horticultural crops for which the Indian topography and agro climates are well suited is an ideal method of achieving sustainability of small holdings, increasing employment, improving environment, providing an enormous export potential and above all achieving nutritional security. As a result, due emphasis on diversification to horticultural crops was given only during the last one decade.

Research Infrastructure

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is the premier agency which pioneered systematic research on agricultural crops in the country. Horticulture research in India received very little attention till the 3rd Five Year Plan. The establishment of the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research at Bangalore and starting of eight All India Coordinated Crop Improvement Projects to cover different horticultural crops was a landmark in the history of horticulture in 4th Five Year Plan (1969-74). Rapid expansion of infrastructure took place in 7th and 8th Plans. Today, the horticultural research in the country is being carried out at eight ICAR institutes (with 26 regional stations), 10 National Research Centres (on major crops) and a Project Directorate on Vegetable crops. Area specific, multi-disciplinary research is also being conducted under 14 All India Coordinated Research Projects each on Tropical, Subtropical and Arid Fruits; Vegetables, Potato, Tuber Crops and Mushrooms; Ornamental Crops, Medicinal and Aromatic crops; Palms, Cashew, Spices and Betel vine; and Post Harvest Technology at 215 centres located at various research Institutes, and State Agricultural Universities. In addition, four net work projects each on hybrid research in vegetable crops, drip, irrigation in perennial horticultural crops, protected cultivation of ornamental crops and Phytophthora diseases of horticulture crops are now in operation. Research on horticulture is also being undertaken at several multi-crop, multi-disciplinary Institutes. Departments of Horticulture in 24 Agricultural Universities, one deemed to be University and one full fledged University of Horticulture and Forestry are also engaged in horticultural research. Besides 280 adhoc schemes supported from Agriculture Produce Cess Fund and a number of foreign-aided projects have also been in operation on specific problems of different horticulture crops. As a result, the country now has a sound research infrastructure in horticulture to meet the growing needs and expectations of the fast developing horticulture industry.

Budgetary Support

The investment in horticulture research by the ICAR in the Central sector has increased significantly in the last two Plans. The Plan allocation for horticultural crops started in 4th Plan (1969-74) with a modest allocation of Rs. 34.78 million and was enhanced to Rs. 319.56 million in the 7th Plan (1985-90) and to Rs. 1047 million in the 8th Plan (1992-97). Non-Plan expenditure also increased from Rs. 73.55 million in the 5th Plan to Rs. 768 million in 8th Plan. Overall increase in Plan investment in 25 years has been of the order of 2775.21 per cent. The per cent budget allocation for horticulture research out of the total budget for agriculture research rose from 6.1 in 5th to 6.5, 6.67 and 7.7 in 6th, 7th and 8th five year plans, respectively. Similarly, expenditure for Central Sector Schemes of the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation for horticulture crop development also rose tremendously from Rs. 20.5 million (4th Plan) to Rs. 76.18 million (5th Plan), Rs. 146.37 million (6th Plan), Rs. 250 million (7th Plan) and Rs 10,000 million (8th Five Years Plan).

Budgetary Support (Million Rupees)

Five year plans
Total for Agriculture Research
Share of Horticulture 
Total Development Support
IV 1969-74
V 1974-78
VI 1980-85
VII 1985-90
VIII 1992-97
Nearly one sixth of the total strength of 5906 scientists working in ICAR is allocated for horticulture research in ICAR Institutes. Besides, approximately, 560 scientists are working in State Agricultural Universities in ICAR funded All India Coordinated Projects. In addition, a large number of scientists are working on horticultural crops in State Agricultural Universities.
Total Scientists in ICAR
Scientists working in the Division of Horticulture
Scientists working in other ICAR Institutes
% of Total
Scientists working in SAUs in ICAR funded projects
Research Achievements

Introduction and Cultivation of New Crops
Several new crops have been introduced for commercial cultivation, e.g.:

  • Kiwi fruit in sub-mountain areas of North India
  • Olive in mid hills of North Western Himalayas
  • Low chilling stone fruits in the North Western plains
  • Oilpalm in coastal states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, etc.
  • Gherkin in south and west India
  • Baby corn and sweet corn in certain specific pockets, and
  • Broccoli, Brussels' sprouts, asparagus, celery, parsley near the cities.
  • Crop Improvement
  • A large number of high yielding varieties developed in several horticultural crops e.g. fruits (76), vegetables (160), potato (29), other tuber crops (24), ornamental crops (300), palms (20), spices (51), cashew (33) and betel vine (1).
  • First seedless variety of mango developed.
  • 40 F1 hybrids developed in brinjal, tomato, chillies, cauliflower, carrot, capsicum and muskmelon.
  • Self incompatible lines in cauliflower, gynodioecious lines in cucumber and muskmelon, genetic male sterile lines in tomato and temperature tolerant strains of button mushroom developed.
  • Propagation of Quality Planting Material
  • Standardized propagation technique for many fruits hitherto propagated by seed. e.g., aonla, bael, ber, black pepper, cardamom, cashew, cassia, cinnamon, clove, custard apple, jack fruit, jamun, nutmeg, sapota and walnut.
  • Standardized Seed Plot Technique resulting in successful disease free potato seed production in the tropics and sub tropics of the country. Standardized method of micro-propagation and in vitro micro-tuber production in potato.
  • Identification of suitable parental lines for production of True Potato Seed (TPS) and Standardized technology for raising commercial crops.
  • Micropropagation protocols developed in banana, black pepper, betel vine, cardamom, ginger and turmeric.
  • Production of coconut hybrids through establishment of Seed gardens of Tall (T) x Dwarf (D) and D x T hybrids.
  • Standardized rootstocks in citrus, grape and apple.
  • Agrotechniques
  • Standardized high density plantations in banana, citrus, mango and pineapple and high production technology in several crops e.g., pineapple, black pepper and cardamom.
  • Year round production technology in tomato and "off season" cultivation of onion and cauliflower developed.
  • Arecanut, coconut and potato based cropping systems developed to maximize productivity under high management conditions.
  • Standardized use of several plant growth regulators and chemicals now commercially employed in production and quality improvement of horticultural crops e.g., paclobutrazol for induction of flowering in mango; gibberellic acid for improving berry size and quality in grape; Maleic hydrazide for preventing sprouting in onion and potato; Dormex for hastening bud burst in grapes; and Boron and Calcium for changing flower cycle in some cucurbits.
  • Crop Protection
  • Developed improved disease detection techniques such as ELISA and ISEM for improving seed quality and tissue culture technique for rapid multiplication of potato.
  • Developed IPM for fruit borer in brinjal, diamond back moth in cabbage, thrips in chillies, phytophthora foot rot in black pepper, "Katte", rhizome rot in cardamom, rhizome rot in ginger, late blight and bacterial wilt in potato.
  • Developed biological control measures for mealy bug in grape, fruit borer in tomato and okra.
  • Post Harvest Management
  • Preharvest treatments to control post harvest losses in citrus, mango and grape standardized.
  • Maturity standards for mango, guava, grape, litchi and ber standardized.
  • Chemical treatment for regulation of ripening in mango, sapota and banana standardized.
  • Optimum storage temperatures worked out for several fruits, vegetables and tuber crops.
  • A mango harvester, fruit peeler, hand and pedal operator cassava chipping machine, harvesting tools (5-14 times efficient); Implements for mechanization of potato cultivation e.g., oscillating tray type potato grader, fertilizer application cum line marker, potato culti-ridger, soil crust breakers, potato digger and automatic potato planter/diggers developed.
  • Low cost environment friendly storage system for fruits, vegetables, potato and onion developed.
  • Impact of Research

    Area under fruits increased from 1.22 million hectares to 3.35 million hectares in 1995-96. India with a production of 41.50 million tonnes (1996-97) is the second largest fruit producer next to China (45.46 million tonnes) with a share of 8% in world fruit production. India produces 65% and 11% of worlds mango and banana, respectively, ranking first in the production of both the crops. It has the highest productivity in grape in the world. Significant expansion has taken up in apple, aonla, ber, pomegranate and sapota cultivation.

    India ranks second in the world vegetable production after China (71.59 million tonnes). Vegetable production has increased three times during the last 50 years. A large area is now covered with F1 hybrids in vegetable crops resulting in increased yield and better socio-economic status of farmers. Vegetables like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, radish and onion are now produced almost round the year. India has attained self sufficiency in seed production of temperate vegetables.

    Mushroom cultivation has spread to almost all parts of the country. Its production has increased from 100 tonnes in 1970 to 30,000 tonnes in 1996-97. The productivity has increased from 10-12 kg m-2 in 1985 to 18-22 kg m-2 in 1995.

    In potato, area, production and productivity has increased from 0.234 million hectares, 154 million tonnes and 6.59 t/ha in 1949-50 to 1.14 million hectares, 1924 million tonnes and 16.9 t/ha respectively. This increase is 12, 4.9 and 2.6 times, respectively. The annual compound growth rate for potato during this period was 6.07 compared to 5.6% for wheat, 2.7% for rice and 2.74 % for total food grains. India is the only country in South East Asia having a national disease free seed production programme producing 2600 tonnes of breeder's seed annually.

    Production, Demand and Projections of Horticultural Crops

    Target 2002
    *Area in million hectares; **Production in million tonnes

    In cassava, productivity has increased from 7t/ha in 1960-61 to 22t/ha during 1992 which is more than double the world average (9.81t/ha). Sago and starch industry based on cassava has been developed.

    Protected cultivation of cut flowers started a decade back and India has already entered the world cut flower market. Micro propagated ornamental foliage plants are being exported in millions internationally. Export of dried flowers from India is increasing.

    In coconut, area has increased from 1 million hectares in 1980 to 1.793 million hectares in 1996-97. India has become one of the largest coconut producing country of the world. Production of coconut has gone up from 5677 million nuts to 13968 million nuts. The productivity in coconut has increased from 5249 nuts/ha to 7808 nuts/ha. Coconut contributes 700 billion rupees to the GDP of the country. The contribution of the crop to the total edible oil pool in India is around 6 per cent. India also exports coir and coir products derived from coconut husk to the tune of 2260 million Rupees.

    Export of Horticultural Produce
    India continues to dominate the world in area, production and productivity of arecanut and has achieved self sufficiency in arecanut production (0.27 million tonnes). Most of the production is domestically consumed.

    Area under oil palm has gone up from 200 ha in 1965 to 40,700 ha in 1996-97. Average productivity in oil palm plantations is now 4-5 tonnes/ha which compares favourably with other countries.

    India is the largest producer (2.48 million tonnes), exporter (0.20 million tonnes) and consumer of spices. Indian spices flavour foods in over 134 countries. Spice exports touched Rs. 11800 million during the last year.

    In cashewnut, area has increased from 0.176 million hectares in 1961 to 0.659 million hectares in 1996-97. The production in cashew has gone up from 0.079 million tonnes to 0.430 million tonnes in 1996-97. India exported cashew kernels worth Rs. 13000 million (362 million $US during 1996-97). Export of cashew rising @ 27% per annum. These export earnings are exceeded only by coffee and rice among agri- exports.

    Needs and Expectations
    In spite of significant achievements in horticulture R&D, a number of challenges still need to be met. These are:

  • Inadequate supply of quality planting material,
  • Heavy losses caused by several biotic and abiotic stresses, and
  • Several unresolved chronic disorders.
  • As a result, the productivity per unit area is low, resulting in high cost of production. Further, the quality of produce in many cases is far from satisfactory. The post harvest losses continue to be high. Full advantage has yet to be taken of several frontier areas e.g., biotechnology, protected cultivation, computer aided management of inputs, integrated nutrient management, leaf nutrient standards, biofertilizers, integrated pest management and mycorrhiza. There is also need for change both in the content and approach of research which can be taken up in partnership with private sector on aspects like production of hybrids, green house production of flowers, biotechnology, value addition and export. The future growth of horticulture industry will largely depend on new and globally competitive technologies. As such, ambitious research programme is called for in horticultural crops in the following thrust areas.

    Genetic Resources

  • Introduce fruits like mangosteen, durian, rambutan, longan, macadamia and berries not yet commercially exploited in India.
  • Widen genetic base in mango (Mangifera species of South East Asia), Citrus (newly developed rootstocks), apple (scab resistant cultivars), guava (coloured varieties), papaya (species and varieties) and litchi (varieties from South East Asia and China). Also, widen genetic base for improvement of medicinal and aromatic plants required by pharmaceutical industries.
  • Enrich germplasm collections with species/ cultivars which are high yielding and resistant/tolerant to different biotic and abiotic stresses.
  • Exploit full potential for cultivation of avocado, kiwi and olive.
  • Standardize long term techniques for cryopreservation of propagating materials and pollen grains.
  • In situ conservation of endangered genetic wealth .
  • Crop Improvement
  • Develop dwarf rootstocks/ scion varieties for high density planting and export in mango, litchi, sapota, citrus, ber, coconut, arecanut, oilpalm and cashewnut.
  • Induce and exploit useful genetic changes through mutations in commercial cultivars.
  • Develop rootstocks and scion varieties in fruits resistant/tolerant to major biotic and abiotic stresses, e.g. malformation in mango, guava rootstocks for wilt, citrus rootstocks against phytophthora, root wilt resistance in coconut, frost and PRV resistance in papaya, weevil in sweet potato, cassava mosaic and stress tolerance in arecanut and spices.
  • Develop F1 hybrids in vegetable crops for yield, nutritional quality and export.
  • Development of virus resistant potato varieties having high tuber dry matter and low accumulation of sugars during low temperature storage and varieties with high temperature tolerance.
  • Evolving varieties with bold nuts and higher shelling percentage in cashew.
  • Domestication of indigenous medicinal plants with bulk demand both in the modern and traditional systems of medicine.
  • Studies on the quality control, seed health, packing and storage of seeds of annual crops.
  • Crop Production
  • Standardise rootstocks for all important fruit crops e.g. mango, guava, litchi, sapota, ber and walnut.
  • Develop horticultural crop based cropping systems for different agroecological regions.
  • Develop integrated nutrient management system i.e. efficient utilization of chemical fertilizers, use of bio-fertilizers and organic material using leaf nutrient standards.
  • Standardize water management practices in major crops including microirrigation and fertigation.
  • Develop techniques of organic farming for export oriented horticultural crops.
  • Standardize practices for production of horticulture crops particularly flowers and vegetables under protected cultivation involving computer aided supply of inputs.
  • Standardize production technology for quality crops for export e.g. mango, grape, litchi, cashew, potato and spices.
  • Crop Protection
  • Develop IPM strategies for important pests of commercial crops.
  • Develop biological control for important diseases and insects affecting commercial crop production.
  • Post Harvest Management
  • Reduce losses occurring during harvesting, storage and transport and improve shelf life of perishable horticultural commodities.
  • Conduct basic and applied research in CA/ modified atmospheric storage of high value perishable crops.
  • Improve indigenous low cost storage systems developed for onion, potato, fruits and vegetable crops.
  • Develop techniques for bulk preservation of fruit pulps, improve drying systems for raisins, mushroom and different vegetables, and standardize technique for frozen vegetables.
  • Initiate post harvest research on ornamentals with special emphasis on export market.
  • Utilize wastes for development of economically viable products.
  • Develop/fabricate low energy requiring machinery for horticultural crop production.
  • Biotechnology
  • To standardise in vitro culture techniques for mass multiplication of rootstock/scion of difficult to micro propagate plants like mango, guava, sapota, litchi, walnut, date palm, coconut and oil palm.
  • Development of protocols for rapid propagation of seedless water melon; vegetable crops with male sterility and self incompatibility barriers e.g., tomato and capsicum and selected ornamental crops.
  • Use of anther culture system for production of di-haploids for integration with breeding programmes.
  • To identify molecular markers based on RAPD and RFLP in important varieties of horticultural crops.
  • Develop transgenic plants with endogenous resistance to insect pests e.g. bacterial canker in kagzi lime, salt and drought tolerance in tomato and capsicum.
  • National Problems

    Intensify interdisciplinary research to find solutions to nationally important problems e.g., malformation and irregular bearing in mango, wilt in guava, die back in citrus and root wilt in coconut.


    India has a good natural resource base, an adequate R&D infrastructure and excellence in several areas. As a result, the horticultural scenario of the country has been changing fast. Both production and productivity of several crops has increased manifold and India can boast itself as a leading horticultural country of the world. Many new crops have been introduced and many others have adapted to non conventional areas. Some other crops are under adaptive trials. A number of turn key projects in mushrooms and flower production have been established. Near self-sufficiency has been achieved in many crops. Export of fresh as well as processed fruits has been increasing. The demand of horticulture produce is on the rise due to increasing population, changing food habits, realisation of high nutritional value of horticultural crops and greater emphasis on value addition and export. However, several challenges are yet to be met. These are, fast eroding genepool, fast population build up, shrinking land and other natural resources, serious production constraints, both biotic and abiotic and huge post harvest losses. Further, in the era of globalisation, produce has to be of international quality and globally competitive. The future expansion of horticulture has to be in and semiarid areas and on under utilized crops.

    While the impact of green revolution in India was felt mainly in assured irrigation areas, horticultural crop production has brought prosperity even in and semiarid areas. Horticulture is no longer a leisurely avocation and is fast assuming position of a vibrant commercial venture. Nature has placed India in a state of advantage and it is now on us horticulturists to work towards ushering in a GOLDEN REVOLUTION in years to come in India.

    J. Appl. Hort., 1(1):64-69, January, 1999

    Research preparedness for accelerated growth of horticulture in India

    S. P. Ghosh

    Deputy Director General (Horticulture), Indian Council of Agriculture Research,
    New Delhi-110001

    The horticulture scenario of the country is rapidly changing. The production and productivity of horticultural crops have increased manifold. Production of fruits and vegetables has tripled in the last 50 years. The productivity has gone up by three times in banana and by 2.5 times in potato. Today horticultural crops cover about 25 per cent of total agricultural exports of the country. The corporate sector is also showing greater interest in horticulture. A major shift in consumption pattern of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables is expected in the coming century. There will be greater technology adoption both in traditional horticultural enterprise as well as in commercial horticulture sectors. Diversification and value addition will be the key words in the Indian horticulture in the 21st Century.

    Horticulture research in India is about four decades old. Systematic research on fruit, vegetable and ornamental crops began in 1954 with the initiation of independent institutions and programmes. The research agenda is designed relevant to national plans and priorities for the horticulture development. Today, eight ICAR institutes with 27 regional stations, 1 project directorate, 10 national research centres, 16 all India coordinated research projects (AICRPS) with 223 research stations, 1 full-fledged university of horticulture, 25 state agricultural universities and 7 multi-disciplinary institutes of the ICAR are engaged in horticulture research. In addition, a few R&D establishments of crop/commodity boards and private sectors are providing research support to Indian horticulture. Research system in horticulture is now geared to provide necessary technological support to the expanding horticultural industry.

    The research efforts in the past were mainly concentrated on crop improvement, propagation of seed/planting material, agrotechniques, crop protection and post harvest management. Some of the improved technologies developed are enumerated below.

    Technology Generation

    Varietal Development
    Among the fruit crops, improved high yielding mango varieties, Mallika, Amrapali, Ratna, Sindhu, Arka Aruna, Arka Puneet, Dashehari-51 and hybrids namely CISH-M-1 and CISH-M-2 have been developed. Mallika is coming up in southern states like Karnataka and Amrapali is performing well in eastern India. Dashehari-51, a regular bearing cultivar with about 38 % higher productivity than the normal Dashehari, has been identified after 14 years of rigorous selection. In guava, three selections, namely Lalit, CISH-G-1 and CISH-G-2 have been developed for domestic and export markets. The fruits of Lalit are of medium size weighing about 150 g each and suitable for both table and processing purposes. In banana, high yielding hybrids like FHIA-01 and FHIA-03 are promising for replacing varieties, Panchananda and Bluggoe, respectively. Cultivar, Saba is found promising under sodic soils. In addition, high yielding varieties like Col, Hl and H2 have been developed. In grape, superior and high yielding varieties have been developed e.g. Beauty Seedless and Pusa Seedless and early ripening variety, Perlette for cultivation under North Indian conditions and Anab-e-Shahi, Dilkhush, Thompson Seedless, Tas-A-Ganesh, Sonaka, Bangalore Blue and Pachadraksha for south Indian conditions. In citrus, high yielding and cluster bearing varieties of acid lime have been developed. e.g., Rough Lemon, Rangpur Lime, Pramaini, Vikram PKM-1. Trifoliate oranges, namely Flying Dragon and Rich 16-6 are dwarfing types. In papaya, high yielding superior varieties both for table purpose and papain production have been developed. e.g., Co-1 to Co-7, Coorg Honey Dew, Pusa Delicious, Pusa Majesty, Pusa Giant and Pusa Nanha. In apple, superior hybrids have been developed. e.g., Lal Ambari, Sunehari. Red Spur, Star Crimson, Golden Spur, Red Chief, Oregon Spur, Skyline Supreme and Vance Delicious have been identified. Tissue culture protocols for micro-propagation of two commercial varieties have been developed.

    Among the vegetable crops, more than 130 open pollinated varieties, 36 hybrids, 3 synthetics and 29 resistant varieties of 20 vegetable crops have been developed and released for cultivation in different agro-climatic regions. These include 40 in tomato, 45 in brinjal, 13 in cauliflower, 12 in chillies, 20 in pea, 9 in musk melon, 16 in onion and 44 in other crops.

    In potato, 33 high yielding varieties have been developed indigenously for large scale cultivation in different regions. Kufri Ashoka and Kufri Pukhraj mature in 75 days. Kufri Jawahar and Kufri Satluj are field resistant to late blight. Kufri Jawahar has most ideal plant type for inter-cropping. Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2 have been developed with excellent processing attributes, comparable to exotic varieties. Kufri Swarna resistant to golden nematode is ideal for Nilgiri Hills.

    In tuber crops, improved varieties of different tuber crops have been recommended/released for commercial cultivation. These includes 9 varieties of cassava, 15 varieties of sweet potato, 6 varieties of colocasia, 3 varieties each of greater yam and lesser yam, 1 each of Amorphophallus, taro and yambean. Cassava varieties, Sree Visakham and Sree Prakash are popular in Kerala. Triploid clone, Sree Harsha with high dry matter and starch content is suitable for industrial belt of Tamil Nadu. Two early maturing varieties Sree Jaya and Sree Vijya have been released for culinary purposes. Elephant foot yam variety, Am-15 has been released with high yield potential of 41 t/ha.

    Among the plantation and spice crops, India is the first country to exploit hybrid vigour in coconut. Twelve hybrids involving tall and dwarf parents and 4 varieties have been released for commercial cultivation. These varieties yield 21 to 89 % more than the local cultivars. Some of the released varieties like Chandra Kalpa and Pratap (Banawali Green Round) are receiving wide acceptance of farmers. Chowghat Green Dwarf variety is good for tender coconut purpose. In arecanut, 4 high yielding varieties, namely, Mangala, Sumangala, Sreemangala and Mohitnagar have been developed, giving about 30 % higher yield than the local cultivars.

    In oil palm, first efforts for improvement were made by producing Tenera hybrids using Pisifera pollen imported from Nigeria. Dura x Pisifera hybrids are field tested in East and West Godavari districts, Khammam and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh, with yield potential of 20-25 tonnes/ha of FFB from the fifth year. In cashew, 22 region specific selections and 12 hybrids with yield potential of 1.5-2 tonnes of raw nuts/ha have been produced and released for commercial cultivation. The present standards fixed for cashew varieties include export grade kernels of W-210 to W-240 and at least one tonne per ha yield with 30 per cent shelling. In black pepper, 6 varieties, namely, Sreekara, Subhakara, Palode-2, Panniyur-2, Panniyur-4, Panchami and Pournami, and 2 hybrids viz. Panniyur-1 and Panniyur-4 have been developed. In cardamom, a number of improved varieties have been developed and released for commercial cultivation e.g., CCS-1, Mudigere-1, PV-1, ICRI-1 and ICRI-2. In ginger, varieties like Suprabha, Suruchi, Suravi and Varada have been developed. In turmeric, several varieties viz., Co-1, Krishna, Sugandham, BSR-1, Suvarna, Roma, Suroma, Rajendra Sonia, Sugana, Sudarshana, Ranga, Rasmi, Prabha, Prathiba, Mega Turmeric and RCT-1 have been developed with yield potential of up to 44 tonnes of fresh rhizomes per ha. Three high yielding cinnamon lines, namely, Navashree, Nithyashree and Konkan Tej have been released for cultivation.

    Seed/planting Material Propagation
    In most of the fruit crops, vegetative propagation techniques have been standardized. Soft wood grafting has been standardized for mango, sapota, custard-apple and jackfruit. Other vegetative propagation techniques have been developed for ber, aonla, jackfruit, custard-apple and bael. In mango, veneer grafting and stone-grafting is practised commercially. Mango variety, Vellaikolumban is suitable semi-dwarfing rootstock for Alphonso. Old unproductive mango trees can be rejuvenated successfully by pruning the 4th order branches during December-January. Flowering and fruiting are regular in pruned trees. For mandarin orange, Rangpur lime is a drought hardy rootstock. In grapes, Dogridge and Salt Creek (Ramsey) are suitable for minimizing adverse effects of soil salinity on Thompson Seedless. A tissue culture technique for mass multiplication of Dogridge has been standardised. In banana, sword suckers of 700-1000 g are optimum. Rhizomes with active lateral buds and dead central buds are preferred for distant transportation in western India. Double paring and shade drying followed by dipping in Monocrotophos (0.5 %) and Bavistin (0.2 %) is recommended to disinfect nematodes and soil borne fungi. Tissue cultured banana plants are now commercially adopted for their uniformity in flowering and produce. Shoot-tip grafting technique in citrus has been considerably advanced.

    In vegetable crops, seed production of over 120 open pollinated high yielding varieties of different vegetables has been well established in the country. Hybrid seed production has become easier with the development of male sterile lines in tomato, self incompatible lines in cauliflower and gynoecious lines in cucumber and muskmelon. In brinjal, functional male sterility controlled by a single recessive gene has been identified. Temperature barrier in cole crops (cabbage and cauliflower) has been overcome by developing heat tolerant hybrids. It is now possible to cultivate cabbage and cauliflower in southern India. Development of tomato varieties resistant to bacterial wilt has made their cultivation successful in non-traditional areas. Onion seed production technology for cultivation in kharif season has been developed for north Indian states especially, Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh. Seed Plot Technique has been developed for production of disease-free potato seed in plains. It is widely adopted by farmers. A new technology for raising commercial crop of potato using 'True Potato Seed' (TPS) has been developed and standardized as supplementary technology to the traditional tuber grown crop. Two TPS populations, TPS-C-3 and HPS-113 are recommended for commercial production in Bihar, Gujarat, Tripura and West Bengal. Micropropagation protocols have been developed in banana, oil palm, cashew, black pepper, ginger, etc. Seed gardens of Tall (T) x Dwarf (D) and D x T hybrids have been established for production of coconut hybrids.

    In fruit crops, improved agrotechniques developed have helped the farmers in improving the productivity and quality of produce. Soil application of paclobutrazol (4 g/tree) increase flowering and fruiting in mango on commercial scale in coastal Maharashtra. It also controls irregular bearing in cultivar Dashehari. Spray of NAA @ 200 ppm in October is recommended for control of malformation. Heavy fruit drop at maturity in cultivar Langra can be controlled by spraying NAA (20 ppm). In guava, double spray of 10 and 20 % urea on cultivars, Allahabad Safeda and Sardar twice at bloom eliminate poor quality rainy season crop and increases winter season yield by 3 and 4 times, respectively. Application of neem coated urea (800 g/plants) yields 98 kg fruits/plant in variety, Sardar compared to 37 kg from untreated plants. In banana, high density planting (4550 plants/ha) yield up to 174 t/ha. Adoption of improved technology in Maharashtra has resulted in fruit yield increase up to 52 t/ha. In citrus, two grafting methods using inverted 'T' cut and apical triangle cut have been developed with overall success of around 36% using either method. For accelerating the survival of growth, shoot tip grafts, the successful grafts are double grafted (side grafted) on vigorous green-house grown Rough Lemon and Rangpur Lime seedlings. Rangpur Lime rootstock is found superior for sweet oranges and mandarins. In papaya, closer spacing of 1.4 x 1.4 m is recommended for high yield. Drip irrigation techniques have been standardized. In banana, it has resulted in production gain (60-70%) and early harvesting (40-50 days), besides improved water efficiency. Likewise, in grapes higher yields have been obtained with better water use efficiency (11 %).

    In vegetable crops, improved production technology has been developed for major crops. Drip irrigation is economical in tomato and brinjal. In cucumber, replenishment of evaporation loss through irrigation resulted in maximization of yield of quality fruits. Drip irrigation in watermelon provided 33% higher yield with a water saving of 40%. Nutrient requirements and fertiliser schedules have been worked out crop-wise and recommended for different agro-climatic regions. In leguminous vegetables, high N depresses nodulation. The VAM fungi increases P availability to plants. In all leguminous vegetables, inoculation of the VAM fungi along with Rhizobium culture is beneficial. Production technologies for kharif onion in northern India and long day type onions for high altitudes have been standardized. Pendimethalin (Stomp) has been found effective in controlling weeds in tomato, brinjal, chilli, bell pepper and okra. In potato, a number of potato-based multiple and inter cropping systems have been developed for different potato growing regions. Intercrop combinations with sugarcane in Maharashtra, wheat in Chhota Nagpur area and linseed in central Uttar Pradesh are found remunerative. A suitable method of urea application has also been worked out.

    In tuber crops, short duration legumes viz., groundnut and French bean and cowpea can be successfully inter-cropped with cassava. Short-duration cassava, Sree Prakash is ideal in double cropped rice fields. Studies on cassava-based multiple cropping systems involving banana, coconut, Leucaena and Eucalyptus, have shown banana-cassava combination to give maximum root yield. Banana and coconut combination reduces soil loss and surface run-off considerably. Dioscorea and elephant foot yam with banana, Nendran can generate an additional income of Rs 20,000/- over the sole crop of banana. For Inter-cropping Dioscorea in coconut garden, the ideal planting density is 9000 plants/ha. When Amorphophallus is raised as an inter-crop in coconut garden, one third dose of recommended fertilizers is sufficient. Inoculation with VAM fungi in cassava give about 15-20% increase in yield.

    Among the plantation and spice crops, density of 175 coconut palms/ha (7.5 m x 7.5 m spacing) is found ideal. In general, NPK application of 500:320:1200 g/palm/year is found optimum. A multi-storied cropping system involving black pepper trained on coconut trees, and cocoa in between the rows of coconut and pineapple in the ground floor has been found ideal for exploiting light, soil and air spaces. In arecanut, application of NPK (100:40:140 g) and green leaf (14 kg) per palm per year is recommended for coastal regions of Kerala and Karnataka and for plains of West Bengal, Karnataka and Assam. In oil palm, application of NPK (1200:600:1200 g/palm) is found to give 17.1 tonne of FFB per ha. In black pepper, rapid methods for production of rooted cuttings of pepper have been developed and a commercial protocol has been standardised for micropropagation of black pepper. Ginger yield could be increased up to 33 percent by application of neem cake at the rate of two tonnes per ha and the fertiliser schedule of 75 kg each of N, P205 and K20. Technology for storage of ginger seed rhizome is standardised and recommended.

    Protection Technologies
    For major fruit crops, plant protection schedules have been developed for the control of significant insect-pests for wider adoption. In the recent years, research efforts are directed to devise eco-friendly, economical and long lasting control measures. Success has been achieved in biological control of mealy bugs in mango and guava. The Beauveria bassiana has been found killing mango mealy bug and hopper. In grapes, integrated management of Spodoptera caterpillar involving light and pheromone traps, NPV and neem based insecticides and biological control of mealy bug by the beetle Cryptolaemus montrouzieri have been standardized. Studies on pesticide residues have resulted in working out of safe-waiting periods for harvesting and consumption of fruits.

    In vegetable crops, about 50 improved measures for efficient management of diseases and 23 for insect-pests have been worked out and popularized in different agro-climatic regions in the country. Integrated pest management (IPM) for controlling diamond back moth on cabbage through a trap crop like mustard has been demonstrated. Fruit borer (H. armigera) on tomato can be controlled by the release of Trichogramma pretiosum alone and in combination with HaNPV.

    In potato, integrated management schedules for control of bacterial wilt and tuber moth have been developed. A late blight forecasting system has been developed for the hills.

    Among the tuber crops, the major diseases affecting tuber crops are cassava mosaic and brown leaf spot in cassava, Phytophthora leaf blight in colocasia, Fusarium wilt in elephant yam and virus diseases of sweet potato. Foliar sprays of Bavistin (0.1%) combined with disodium and dipotassium phosphates (100 ppm) and calcium sulphate at 15-day interval was found to check foliar diseases in sweet potato. The major pests include spider mites, scale insects and white fly on cassava, weevil on sweet potato, defoliators, aphids and mites on colocasia, and scales and mealy bugs on yams and elephant yam. Cultural methods for weevil control include clean cultivation, destruction of alternate hosts and timely harvest. An effective IPM package using synthetic sex pheromone has been developed. Control measures involving insecticides have been evolved for the control of pests of other tuber crops.

    Among the plantation and spice crops, bud rot of coconut caused by Phytophthora palmivora can be effectively controlled by spraying Bordeaux mixture. Calyxin root feeding and drenching of soil with 1% Bordeaux mixture along with neem cake application @ 5 kg per palm per year is recommended for controlling Thanjavur wilt disease reported in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. A package of practices has been developed for managing mycoplasma like organisms (MLOs) in root wilt affected coconut palms in Kerala and Thatipaka disease affected palms in Andhra Pradesh. Eradication of all root wilt affected palms is recommended. In cashew, tea mosquito bug (TMB) can be effectively controlled through a schedule of spray coinciding with flushing, flowering and fruiting. For effective control of stem and root borer infestation, constant monitoring and adoption of strict sanitation in the plantations coupled with prophylactic application of coal tar and kerosene in the ratio of 1:2 on trunks are recommended. In black pepper, spraying Bordeaux mixture (1 %) and drenching the soil with copper oxychloride (0.2 %) is found effective in managing Phytophthora foot rot.

    Post Harvest Management Technologies
    The post harvest handling of fruits and vegetables accounts for 20-30% of losses at different stages of storage, grading, packing, transport and finally at marketing as a fresh produce or in processed form. A number of improved technologies have been developed for commercial exploitation.

    An on-farm, low cost, environment friendly cool chamber, Zero Energy Cool Chamber has been developed using locally available material. The principle of evaporative cooling reduces the inside temperature by as much as 17-18 oC and keeps the relative humidity above 90% during peak summer. The chamber increases the shelf life and reduces PLW of banana, mango, orange lime, grape fruit, tomato and potato in different situations in India.

    Maturity standards for mango, guava, grape, litchi and ber and chemical treatments for regulation of ripening in mango, sapota and banana have been standardised. Optimum storage temperatures worked out for several fruits, vegetables and tuber crops.

    A mango harvester, fruit peeler, hand and pedal operator cassava chipping machines, harvesting tools (5-14 times efficient), coconut dehusking machine, implements for mechanization of potato cultivation and other crops have been developed.

    A number of improved technologies have been developed for commercial exploitation viz., tent type foldable solar dryer, packaging boxes for distant transportation of apple, mango, citrus and plum, production of value added products-pectin from peel and flour from mango fruit kernel, production of fruit post carbonated beverages etc.

    Production Constraints
    In spite of great strides made, the productivity of horticultural crops, in general, is still quite low and the post harvest losses particularly of perishable commodities, are considerable. Improvement in quality standards of the produce and their marketing are essential to increase our share in the global market.

    The research agenda in horticulture is by design relevant to national plans and priorities and research programmes are normally formulated keeping in view the thrust areas in development. The major technology related constraints contributing to low productivity of horticultural crops and inferior quality of produce are:

  • Vast majority of holdings are small and un-irrigated.
  • Large tracts of low and unproductive plantations needing replacement/rejuvenation.
  • Low productivity of crops due to inferior genetic stocks and poor management.
  • Inadequate supply of quality planting materials of improved varieties.
  • High incidence of pests and diseases.
  • Heavy post harvest losses and low utilization in processing sector.
  • For addressing the above constraints, research institutions are engaged in both basic and applied research. While formulating research strategies some of the inherent weaknesses associated with perennial tree crops and certain perpetual problems in Indian horticulture must be kept in mind. They are:
  • Long period required for development of improved genotypes. Application of biotechnological tools/methods in horticultural crops is still in its early stage of development in the country.
  • Chronic production problems due to major disorders like alternate bearing, malformation and spongy tissue in mango, guava wilt, citrus decline, root wilt in coconut, viral disease in vegetables, Phytophthora diseases in large number of crops etc. remained largely unresolved.
  • Lack of advanced technologies for post harvest handling, processing and marketing of produce.
  • Losses caused by biotic stresses are very high and due to pesticide residue problems development of eco-friendly IPM strategy is more relevant in horticulture. There is a threat for loss of valuable genetic resources, if measures are not taken for their conservation. Wastelands and hilly terrains being the potential future expansion areas, matching technologies for dry land and hill horticulture need to be developed. Counter seasonal advantages from diverse agro-climatic situations provide strength for extended availability of horticultural crops round the year and such potentials can be harnessed only with relevant research support.


    Keeping in view of the strength and weaknesses of the research system and priority areas of horticulture development the following strategies and programmes are suggested for horticultural research:

    Rationalization of Research
    There is a need to shift from commodity/discipline oriented research to system based research and to establish stronger Inter-institutional linkages with SAUs, CSIR, DBT and BARC. Greater private sector partnership for diversification, value addition and export promotional research and seed production programmes will be required to modernize horticulture industry. Introduction of project based budgeting in the Institutes/NRCs will bring better accountability and one time catch up grant to modernize old Institutes will be essential. Development of database on technologies evolved, market intelligence, export projections/removal of quantitative restrictions, R&D scenario in horticulture should receive priority attention.

    Safeguard for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
    A fool proof description of varieties and their registration and finalisation of material transfer agreement and channelization of germplasm exchange need to be institutionalized. Similarly, specification of quality/codex standard for export of indigenous fruits and vegetables need to be developed. Phytosanitary regulations for importing vegetatively propagated materials need a relook/revision and rigorous enforcement.

    Genetic Resource Management
    Greater emphasis need to be given on (a) in situ conservation of endangered species, ex situ conservation of base collections and in vitro storage and cryopreservation of important germplasm. Clonal repository of vegetatively propagated crops and germplasm screening for processing and diversified use will be certain other areas of priority research.

    Horticultural Biotechnology
    Biotechnology as a tool for rapid multiplication of quality planting material, virus cleaning, genetic transformation etc., will be of very great importance. The priority research programmes are:

  • Development of micropropagation protocols in selected crops
  • Genetic engineering for integration of desirable traits
  • Molecular characterization of germplasm and development of molecular linkage maps
  • Value addition to products
  • Preservation of post harvest losses through control of metabolic process
  • Integrated Production System
    Production related technologies can bring quick improvement in production and productivity on different regions. Short or medium range programme on horticulture based cropping systems; water management including microirrigation and fertigation, greenhouse cultivation of vegetables and flowers, integrated nutrient and pest managements, environment pollution and pesticide residue problems have already received research attention. Further refinement of the technologies and their transfer will bring perceptible change/improvement in production of different crop commodities.

    Export Promotional Research
    There is a need for development of bulk handling system of tropical fruits, including pre-cooling and CA/MA storage and post harvest protocols for sea transport of major fruits like banana, mango, litchi, sapota, Kinnow and pomegranate. Disinfestation technology including vapour heat treatment (VHT) for export of fresh fruits and extension of shelf life by preventing desiccation of vegetables should help in further export promotion. Organic farming for vegetable and spice crops and residue free IPM technology are other important areas of research.

    Quality Planting Material Production
    For resolving the long standing problems of supply of good quality planting materials of different horticultural crops, following research areas are flagged:

  • System of certification and standardisation of planting materials;
  • Micropropagation protocols for mango, litchi, coconut, walnut, date palm, oil palm and apple rootstocks;
  • Refinement of TPS and micro-tuber production technology in potato;
  • Improvement in STG techniques and cross-protection in citrus for virus elimination and control; and
  • Seed production system for hybrid vegetables and commercialization of micropropagation in floriculture.
  • Post Harvest Management
    In order to reduce post harvest losses at production centres low cost ecofriendly on-farm storage structures can play a crucial role. Significant advancement has been made in that direction and some small and medium sized cool chambers on the principles of evaporative cooling have been devised. Further refinement of the technology will go on a long way. Also, standardisation of packing line operations and proper packaging of different commodities are of urgent need. Pesticide residue management and newer product developments will add values to the produce.

    Human Resource Development
    Advanced training in research methodologies and instrumentation, biotechnology, micro-irrigation, fertigation, IPM, INM, biofertilizer, biopesticide, pesticide residue, PHT and product development need priority attention for increasing research capabilities of the scientists. Skill development for state level development functionaries through in-service training at different R&D institutions will enhance capabilities of extension staff. Post Graduate programmes in fruit, vegetable, floriculture, plantation crops and post harvest management of horticultural crops will help in providing trained manpower in specialized areas.

    Technology adoption pattern can not be uniform throughout the country and will vary from crop to crop and even from region to region. Certain degree of flexibility in research planning and research strategy is therefore obvious. Also, with the opening of global markets and removal of quantitative restrictions under the WTO export-import scenario is likely to change at much faster pace. Market forces will play a more dominant role and demands for modern technologies will increase. Research system in horticulture will have to be very alert and should be able to adjust with the changes. Development of both short term and long term strategies for modernising Indian horticulture will depend largely on the research support and strength of research system.