Horticulture: Great opportunities in horticulture boom

For professionally qualified horticulturists there are wide-ranging work options which offer handsome remuneration
With an annual growth rate of 30–35 percent, Indias high-potential horticulture industry is blooming and is poised for a great leap forward with the opening up of foreign markets post new World Trade Organization accords and revolutionary advances in greenhouse technology. Giving this industry a big push forward is also the entry of retail giants such as Reliance, Future, Foodworld, and Walmart which have established multi-product retail chain stores inter alia offering farm fresh and processed foods to the fast expanding middle class countrywide.

For admission into most B.Sc (horticulture) degree or diploma programmes, the minimum eligibility requirement is clearance of Plus Two in science or agriculture with at least 50 percent average. The minimum qualification for admission into the Masters programme in horticulture is a 60 percent plus average while graduating in the same or related streams. Admission to universities could be based upon collegiate exam scores or academic performance in an entrance examination.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Krishi Anusandhan Bhavan, New Delhi) conducts a pan-India entrance examination for admission into undergraduate courses in agriculture, horticulture, and allied sciences for 15 percent of the total number of seats in state agricultural universities and the Central Agricultural University, Imphal.

Among the most reputable universities and colleges of agriculture/ horticulture are:

Kerala Agricultural University, Vellanikkara, Thrissur

Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli

Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri

Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani

College of Agriculture, Pune

University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore

College of Agriculture, Hebbal, Karnataka

College of Horticulture, Rahuri

Rev. Carey Institute of Horticulture, Kolkata

Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan

Central Agricultural University, Imphal

G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar

Gujarat Agricultural University, Sardar Krushinagar

Institute of Agricultural Sciences, BHU, Varanasi

University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad

For professionally qualified horticulturists, there are wide-ranging work options (including entrepreneurship) which offer handsome remuneration. They can be gainfully employed in agro-based industries, fruit and vegetable processing units, forestry-based industries, insecticide, pesticide, and fungicide manufacturing units; and state horticulture and forest departments. Moreover hotels, health farms, holiday resorts, and a growing number of office and residential complexes employ horticulturists to beautify their environments.

New Opportunities. For Indian industry to rise to the new opportunities and challenges in agro-industry and horticulture, in 1998 the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) drew up a blueprint of a world-class Horticulture Training Centre (HTC) at Talegaon (near Pune) in collaboration with the Practical Training Center of the Netherlands and The Netherlands Development Finance Company.

The first of its type in Asia, this centre was promoted in October 2003 and to date has delivered practical training to 4,800 farmers and other professionals in greenhouse technologies which came to India in the early 1990s. We conduct a weeks residential training programme in Marathi, English, and Hindi throughout the year and attract trainees from all over the country as well as neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan,” says Dr. Suresh Dhumal, director of HTC. Dhumal has nurtured the centre ever since inception and has made it self-sufficient in record time.

Dhumal is particularly enthused about the polyhouses set up by HTC for teaching greenhouse technology. This technology is profitable where land has been fragmented and intensive farming is necessary. Although initial investment is high, the payback period is short and yields are year round. This technology facilitates the growing of high value crops like roses, carnations, and exotic vegetables in polyhouses. Walmart has established 45 acres of polyhouses in Chandigarh and has started growing exotic vegetables. The entry of big corporates like Reliance and Walmart into the horticulture industry and trade is certain to unlock the huge latent potential of Indian agriculture,” he says.

Little wonder Dhumal exhorts youth to qualify to enter the jumping horticulture industry. There are huge employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in this industry. Across the world there is a shift from traditional to commercial crops like biofuel. An imminent shortage in agricultural crops will compel the developed countries to turn to India which has an edge in terms of natural and human resources. Within the next decade Indian horticulture firms will be a force to reckon with in global markets,” predicts Dhumal.

Better late than never!

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