'Horticulture and allied
' sector is an integral element for food and nutritional security in the country. Horticulture is the main segment, while its various sub-segments are fruits, vegetables, aromatic and herbal plants, flowers, spices and plantation crops. All these are regarded as the essential ingredients of economic security. The wide range of agro-climatic conditions of India is conducive for growing a large variety of horticultural crops, including, root and tuber crops, mushroom, ornamental crops, plantation crops like coconut, arecanut, cashew and cocoa.
The Government of India has recognized horticulture crops as a means of diversification in agriculture in an eco-friendly manner through efficient use of land and optimum utilization of natural resources. Horticulture seeks to create ample opportunities for employment, particularly for unemployed youths and women folk. India has maintained leadership in the production of many commodities like mango, banana, acid lime, coconut, arecanut, cashew, ginger, turmeric and black pepper. Presently, it is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world.
India is next only to China in area and production of vegetables and occupies prime position in the production of cauliflower, second in onions and third in cabbage in the world. India has also made noticeable advancement in the production of flowers. Further, it is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices. India is home to a wide variety of spices like black pepper, cardamom (small and large), ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli and a large variety of tree and seed spices. Almost all the States in the country grow one or more spices. The major spice producing States are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh. North Eastern region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands also have potential areas cultivated for spices, particularly organically.
Further, coconut is a versatile crop and about 10 million people depend on its cultivation, processing and related activities. It is grown mainly along the coastal States of the country as well as in the North-Eastern region. It is grown over an area of 1.84 million ha with a production of 8.67 million tonnes. India is a leading country in the world for coconut production.
Thus, over the years, much progress has been made for the advancement of horticulture and allied sector. Rising investments have resulted in increased production and availability of horticultural produce in the rural and urban areas. Many schemes and policies have been introduced, from time to time, for upliftment and commercialisation of the sector. Large number of investors are taking advantage of the existing potentials in the sector, as well as trying to explore the untapped potentials.