PROSPECTS OF HORTICULTURE IN NORTH EASTERN REGION

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R.K. Yadav, D.S. Yadav, N. Rai and K.K. Patel

Division of Horticulture, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umroi Road,

Umiam-793 103 (Meghalaya)

National Scenario

                The country is now in the third phase of agricultural development where it is paying more attention to agricultural diversification and productivity enhancement. For growth target of 8% of GDP, the agriculture has to grow by 4% and horticulture has to grow more than 7%. With contribution of 18.8% in total agriculture production and 52% in total agricultural export, horticulture has emerged as a prominent sector offering wide scope for diversification in agriculture. It has a vital scope in foreign exchange earning and employment generation. At present the area under total operational holdings in India is 1655 lakh hectares, out of which 157 lakh hectare area is under horticulture, which is around 9.5% of total area under agriculture. During 2000-2001, the horticultural production was about 152.5 million tonnes, out of which shares of fruits and vegetables were 45.4 million tonnes and 93.9 million tones, respectively; however it was only 77 million tonnes during 1987-88. The productivity level of most of the horticultural crops in the country is still low as compared to developed countries.

 

Horticultural status of NE states

                    The North-eastern region lying between 21.5o N - 29.5o N latitudes and 85.5o E - 97.3o E longitudes comprises of eight states - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. It has a total geographical area of 262180 Km2 which is nearly 8% of the total geographical area of the country with more than thirty one million population (Table 1). In the whole of NE region, about 35% area is plain and the remaining 65% area is under hills. Whereas in Assam, plains account 84.44% of its total geographical area and the remaining 15.56% area is under hills. Net sown area is highest in Assam (34.12%) followed by Tripura (23.48%); Arunachal Pradesh has lowest net sown area in the region. Cropping intensity is highest in Tripura (156.5%) followed by Manipur (152.1%), Mizoram (136.36%) and Assam (123.59%). About 0.5 million hectare area is under shifting cultivation in NE region. Out of 4.4 million hectare net sown area of the region, roughly 1.4 million hectare lies in hilly sub region and at least 1.3 million hectare suffer from serious soil erosion problem.

                    The total area under horticultural crops is around 822.5 thousand hectare which is around 3.14% of the total geographical area of the region (Agril Research Data Book, ICAR-2002) and it gives total production of 6818.4 thousand tonnes. The region is characterized by difficult terrain, wide variability in slope and altitude, land tenure system and cultivation practices. The transport and communication system is poorly developed. As a result majority of the areas in the region still remain inaccessible. Majority of the population is dependent on agriculture, horticulture and allied land based activities. The agriculture production system in the region is mostly rainfed, monocropped and at subsistence level. Slash and burn agriculture is still predominantly practiced in almost all the states, except Sikkim, on steep slopes with reduced fallow cycle of 2 to 3 years as against 10-15 years in the past. The climatic condition in the region is diverse which varies from temperate to sub-tropical and tropical. The diverse agroclimatic conditions, varied soil type and abundance of rainfall offer immense scope for cultivation of different types of horticultural crops, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, plantation crops, tuber and rhizomatous crops and crops of medicinal and other economic values. The fruits grown in this region range from tropical and sub-tropical fruits like banana, papaya, pineapple and citrus to temperate fruits like apple, pear, peach, plum and even certain nut fruits. The region has rich diversity of different vegetable crops and both indigenous tropical vegetables and temperate vegetables are grown to a considerable extent. The major vegetables grown in the regions are brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, okra, onion, pea, potato, tomato, knol-khol, radish, carrot, French bean and different cucurbitaceous crops. Among the flowering plants special mention may be made about the orchids, about 600 species are reported in the region. The other commercial flowers of the region are marigold, tuberose, gladiolus and chrysanthemum. Tuber and rhizomatous crops like tapioca (cassava), sweet potato, dioscorea, colocasia, ginger and turmeric grow abundantly in the region, while plantation crops like tea have considerable impact on the economy of the Assam region, in particular. Later on other plantation crops like rubber and coffee, medicinal and aromatic oil yielding plants like Solanum spp., Dioscorea spp., Cymbopogon spp., Mentha spp., etc., have been considered suitable for certain areas of the region.

                    Apart from these, there are certain underutilized or lesser known horticultural crops which are grown at large scale in some or other parts of the region by tribals. These underutilized crops include passion fruit, kiwi fruit, chow-chow, parkia, sweet gourd (kakrol), etc. These crops are grown in such a large scale that they are not only consumed by tribals / people of the region but are also exported out side the region.

 

Table 1: Socio-ecology of North Eastern states-1991

State

Geographical Area (km2)

Forest

(%)

Net sown area (%)

Population

Shedule tribes

(%)

Total

Rural

(%)

Urban

(%)

Arunachal Pradesh

83,743

93.79

3.37

8,64,588

87.2

12.8

63.5

Assam

78,439

25.67

32.4

2,24,14,322

88.9

11.1

12.8

Manipur

22,327

27.23

6.33

18,37,149

72.5

27.5

34.4

Meghalaya

22,429

41.72

9.64

17,74,778

81.4

18.6

85.5

Mizoram

21,081

75.77

5.17

6,89,756

53.9

46.1

94.8

Nagaland

16,579

56.11

14.63

12,09,546

82.8

17.2

87.7

Sikkim

7,096

36.20

13.38

4,06,457

90.9

9.1

22.4

Tripura

10,486

57.77

26.41

27,57,205

84.7

15.3

30.6

Total NE states

2,62,180

-

-

3,19,53,821

84.35

15.65

34.45

India

32,87,300

(19.35)

-

84,63,02,688

74.3

25.7

8.0

Source: Basic statistics of North Eastern Region 2000, North Eastern Council, Shillong, Ministry of Home affairs, GOI.

 

Bio-diversity of horticultural crops

                    The North Eastern region is considered to be the richest reservoir of genetic variability of large number of horticultural and plantation crops. The enormous diversity makes the region a gene pool for the varietal improvement but in spite of potentiality no worth mentioning development in the field of horticulture has taken place. It may be mentioned that in hill area particularly horticultural crop cultivation as an alternative to jhuming may prove to be a boon in the regional economy. In NEH region farming being the main stay of the people, development of horticulture will markedly improve the economy of the people. Establishment of orchards and planting of plantation crops on hill slopes will prevent soil erosion which may solve the problem of shifting cultivation and out migration of people to towns.

 

Tropical/Subtropical fruits

                    Banana, pineapple and citrus constitute the major fruit crops followed by papaya, guava, litchi and jackfruit. The region has been described as one of the major centres of diversity for citrus, banana and mango, etc. Cultivation of mandarin is distributed in all across the North-East with Meghalaya leading the area. Assam lemon, a seedless lemon, is under cultivation to a considerable extent in the foot hills. Systematic exploratory survey of mandarin orange showed that Citrus indica is one of the most primitive species of citrus available in the region. Other promising natives so for identified and commercialised are cytron (C. medica), sweet lime (C. lamittoides), sour orange (C. aurantium), sweet pumalo (C. grandis), sour pumelo (C. megaloxycarpa), Khasi paida (C. latipes), rough lemon (C. jambhiri), etc.

                    Mango is found growing wild in many parts of the region. Two species, i.e., M. sylvatica and M. chassina are found in Arunachal Pradesh. The main problem of mango cultivation in the region is the attack of mango root weevil (Stocnomechestus mangiferae). One dwarf type mango called March mango found in Tripura can be used for evolving dwarf and resistant varieties to stone weevil.

                    Pineapple cultivation in all the states of the region is done on slopes under rainfed conditions with two cultivars namely Giant Kew and Queen dominating the production. Tripura leads the area under Queen.

                    Banana another important fruit of the region is found growing wild at varying altitudes. The species like Musa balbiciana and M. acuminata growing abundantly in NE region are highly seedy and lack in good taste. Besides cultivated and wild species there exist a number of strains which requires improvement. One such variety locally known as ‘Bhim Kol’ (Musa balbiciana), though seed, has very soft pulp and is used as infant food in Assam. Another type grown in Sikkiim, called ‘Gheo Kela’ (Butter banana) is orange or yellow coloured; its soft buttery pulp is highly productive and preferred by local people.

                    Besides the three important fruits as discussed above a number of other tropical and sub-tropical fruits belonging to genus Artocarpous, Phyllanthus, Anona, Averrhoa, Persia, Aegle, Carrisa, Passiflora, Psidium, Litchi, etc., are found wild. The guava has already shown high promise in Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland.

                    The genetic resources of temperate fruits represent even more better picture in the north eastern region of India. A number of species belonging to genus Malus, Pyrus, Prunus, Rubus, Ribes, etc., are growing wild. M. baccata is found growing in Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland and M. sikkimensis in Sikkim. Prunus nepalensis and Prunus cerasoides which flower during November at Shillong are non deciduous and need improvement in their quality.

 

Vegetable and tuber crops

                    NE region is well known for its rich genetic resources and variabilities for edible and non-edible types of cucurbits. Rare edible cultivars include Momordica cochinchinensis, Momordica dioica, summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), etc. An array of vegetable and tuber crops are available in this region. The region abounds in cucurbitaceous vegetables like pumpkin, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, bitter gourd and cucumber, etc. The introduced cucurbit chow-chow (Schium edule) locally known as squash needs a special mention that after having introduced into this region the crop has acclimatised so well that every house in the city of Shillong besides Nagaland, Sikkim, etc., has a least a single plant of chow-chow.

                    Among the leguminous vegetables, rich diversity is available in Dolichos, Vigna, Psophocarpus and Phaseolus vulgaris (French bean). In the entire hill region of the north eastern India a wide variability is available. Variability of Dolichos lablab is present in whole of Tripura. Psophocarpous tetragonolobus (Winged bean) has been observed to be growing all along Indo-Burma region of Mizoram and Manipur. One underutilized legume-cum-tuber vegetable crop, known as Sohphlong (Vigna vexillata), is a wonderful vegetable crop which possesses edible pods as well as underground tubers.The vegetable offers great promise as ‘Soybean’ rival to combat the nutritional deficiencies in Indian sub-continent.

                    Among the solanaceae, the S. melongena (brinjal) is widely distributed in Bengal and Assam region extending upto Manipur. The botanical varieties namely, S. depressum and S. serpentinum are found widely in Manipur. In addition to cultivated brinjal an unidentified Solanum species related to brinjal and similar to S. gilo Raddi having red tomato like fruits and another kind of brinjal with enlarged calyx almost covering the round fruits and intermediate in appearance between tomato & brinjal are found in the region. Besides brinjal, tomato, chillies and capsicum also hold great promise for cultivation and improvement. Among the tuber crops, an array of variability is present in colocasia and yams.

 

Spices

                    Among the different spices crops that are grown in the region are ginger, turmeric, chillies and bay leaf. Though recently introduced, the region has a potential for commercial cultivation of black pepper, cumin, large cardamom, and saffron. Three commercial crops need mention in this respect viz. ginger, turmeric and large cardamom. A number of local cultivars exist in north eastern region. In case of turmeric the local variety ‘Lakadong’ grown mainly in Jawai area of Meghalaya has shown high curcumin content (7.45%) as compared to 6.7 and 7.2 in high yielding varieties like G.L. Puran and Daghi.

                    The large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is an important spice crop growing abundantly in Sikkim and in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The total annual production of dry capsules is to the tune of 4,000 tonnes from these states. Some other species like A. delabatum and A. aromaticum are also exist. A wild type of  Ammomum known as ‘Belak’ in Arunachal Pradesh has got very small sized seeds, although the capsules are large. If the astringency of its seeds could be reduced, it will find scope for cultivation.

 

Ornamental

                    A vast treasure of ornamental plants and orchids exists in NE India. The important ornamental species that have now been adopted for cultivation include Bauhenia, Cassia, Calestemon, Erythrina, Jacatrenda, Magnolia, Rhodedendron, Myria, etc. Some of the shrubs and climbers like Azalia, Achenia, Baugainvellea, Camilio, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Jatropa, Narium, Thunbergia are colourful ornamentals. However among the flowering plants, special mention may be made about the orchids,  which have both ornamental and medicinal value. Out of 1300 orchid species reported, about 600 species occur in north eastern region alone. Plants of the epiphytes origin have great opportunities for development and growth of industries. Mention may be made of Vanda coerules (Blue Vanda), Renanthera imschootina, Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum, Dendrabium falconerii and Paphiopedilum fairicanum (The lady’s slipper) and symbidium, etc.

 

Medicinal & aromatic plants

                    The NE Indian forest is an important repository for a large number of naturally occurring medicinal and aromatic plants with distinct photochemical, pharmaceutical, therapeutic and industrial properties. Six important genera viz. Coetus, Coptis, Dioscorea, Epecal, Rauroltia and Solanum have been identified for this purpose. Two important aromatic plants namely, agarwood (Aqualaria agallocha) and Java citronella (Cympogon winteri anus) have been exploited for commercial cultivation for extraction of essential oils by RRL, Jorhat. Similarly 3 endemic medicinal plant species namely Dioscorea floribunda, D. prazeri and Solanum khasianum have been recommended for cultivation for extraction of steroids. The four important orchid species namely Dendrobium paciflorum, D. nobile, Diplomeris hirsute and Paphiopedilum with potential for use in traditional medicines are now facing extinction in this region. The promising oil-yielding aromatic plants of NE India are Citronella, Lamongrass, agar wood, turpentine, cinnamon, mentha and Eucalyptus. There is a great scope for commercial cultivation of these aromatic plantation crops to derive a sizeble production of precious essential oils for industrial use. Some of the plant species that grow usually wild in the region and may be used as a potent of agarbati and other related perfumery products are Juneperus macropoda, J. recurva, Rhododendrium anthopagon, etc. Several medicinal plants species with insecticidal properties have also been identified.

 

Table 2: State wise area and production of fruits and vegetables in NE region

                                                                                    Area-000 ha, Production-000 t, Yield-t/ha

State

Area production & yield

Fruits

Vegetables

1996-97

1999-2000

1996-97

1999-2000

Arunachal Pradesh

A

28.9

44.1

16.7

16.9

P

87.9

93.1

80.5

80.9

Y

3.04

2.11

4.82

4.79

Assam

A

102.9

106.1

223.2

255.9

P

1229.0

1249.5

2074.1

3089.4

Y

11.94

11.78

9.29

12.07

Manipur

A

22.7

24.6

8.0

9.0

P

111.0

118.1

53.2

60.8

Y

4.89

4.8

6.65

6.76

Meghalaya

A

24.8

26.9

41.8

29.2

P

239.0

223.3

412.2

252.9

Y

9.64

8.30

9.86

8.66

Mizoram

A

14.4

13.0

6.8

8.3

P

66.0

40.7

49.6

56.3

Y

4.58

3.13

7.29

6.78

Nagaland

A

13.6

19.4

19.3

20.9

P

168.9

232.3

188.4

235.7

Y

12.42

11.97

9.76

11.13

Sikkim

A

9.4

5.9

12.0

9.6

P

12.5

8.6

54.0

43.0

Y

1.33

1.46

4.50

4.48

Tripura

A

32.3

30.4

32.0

18.4

P

400.9

372.1

358.5

232.8

Y

12.41

12.24

11.20

12.65

NEH region

A

249.0

270.4

359.80

367.9

P

2315.2

2337.7

3270.50

4051.8

Y

9.30

8.65

9.09

11.01

India

A

3579.5

3796.8

5515.2

5993.0

P

40458.4

45496.0

75074.6

90830.7

Y

11.30

11.98

13.61

15.16

Source: Agril. Research Data Book ICAR, 2002

 

Area, production and productivity of horticultural crops 

                    No systematic and accurate estimate of area and production of different horticultural crops in the North Eastern region is available. The estimates made by various sources also vary considerably. North Eastern Council generally compiles the data available from different sources. According to Agricultural Research Data Bank ICAR 2002, the area under various fruit crops was 270.4 thousand hectares and production was 2337.7 thousand tonnes with average productivity of 8.65 tonnes per hectare during 1999-2000. However, the total area under fruit crops in the country was 3796.8 thousand hectares and total production was 45496.0 thousand tonnes with productivity of 11.98 tonnes per hectare during the same year (Table 2). Similarly, the total area under vegetable crops in the NE region was 367.9 thousand hectares and production was 4051.8 thousand tonnes with the productivity of 11.01 tonnes per hectare. While the area under vegetable crops in the country was 5993.0 thousand hectares and production was 90830.7 thousand tonnes with productivity level of 15.16 tonnes per hectare (Table 2). This shows that the productivity level of horticultural crops in the NE region is quite below the national productivity.

 

Table 3: Crop wise area and production of fruit crops in NE region (1998-99)

Crop

NE states

India

Area (,000 ha)

Production (,000 tonnes)

Productivity (t/ha)

Area (,000 ha)

Production

(,000 tonnes)

Productivity (t/ha)

Pineapple

47.4

519.8

11.0

74.2

1006

13.6

Papaya

11.4

133.9

11.8

67.7

1582

23.4

Mango

3.7

21.8

5.9

1402.0

9782

7.0

Litchi

9.9

46.5

4.7

56.2

428.9

7.6

Guava

6.4

59.7

9.3

151.3

1801.0

11.9

Citrus

57.2

300.7

5.3

488.1

4575.0

9.4

Banana

60.6

744.6

12.3

464.3

15073.0

32.5

Apple

6.7

16.3

2.4

231.4

1380.0

6.0

Other

45.7

434.9

9.5

699.0

6664.0

9.5

Source: Agril. Research Data Book ICAR 2002

 

                    Out of the total area under different fruit crops in the NE region, the maximum area, i.e., about 60.6 thousands hectare is under banana only. Area wise second most important crop is citrus, covering about 57.2 thousand hectares, while the pineapple occupies about 47.4 thousand hectares. Other important fruit crops of the region are papaya (11.4 thousand ha), litchi (9.9 thousand ha), apple (6.7 thousand ha), guava (6.4 thousand ha), mango (3.7 thousand ha), etc. (Table 3). No reliable estimate is available about the area under different vegetable crops but all the states of the region grow both tropical indigenous as well as exotic temperate vegetables to a limited scale. Out of total area under different vegetable crops, the maximum area of about 113.2 thousand hectares is under potato only. Potato is a very important cash crop of the entire region. Area wise second most important crop is cabbage, covering about 18.5 thousand hectares, while sweet potato occupies 17 thousand hectares. Other important vegetable crops from area point of view are brinjal (12.5 thousand ha), cauliflower (12.5 thousand ha), onion (7.9 thousand ha), etc. (Table 4)

 

Table 4: Crop wise area and production of vegetable crops in NE region  (1997-98)

Crop

NE states

India

 

Area (,000 ha)

Production

(,000 tonnes)

Productivity

(t/ha)

Area (,000 ha)

Production

(,000 tonnes)

Productivity

(t/ha)

Potato

113.2

1048.3

9.26

1208.9

17652.3

14.6

Cabbage

18.5

227.5

12.3

218.4

3861.7

17.7

Sweet potato

17

70.4

4.1

128.8

1171.0

9.1

Tapioca

7.8

55.6

7.1

264.3

6681.9

25.3

Brinjal

12.5

187.7

15.0

434.2

6443.1

14.8

Onion

7.9

18.1

2.3

338.5

3142.8

9.3

Cauliflower

12.5

120

9.6

220.0

2474.0

11.3

Source: Basic statistics of North Eastern Region 2000, North Eastern Council, Shillong, Ministry of Home affairs, GOI.

 

                    Among spices maximum area is covered by chilli (29.7 thousand ha) followed by ginger (16.4 thousand ha) and turmeric (13.6 thousand ha). Ginger is the main cash crop for the tribals of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. In addition Assam also contributes substantial amount of ginger and thus the production of green ginger in the region may be much more than the figures indicated in the estimates (Table 5). Among plantation crops coconut and arecanut are the major crops of the region. Area wise, arecanut covers maximum area i.e., about 86.1 thousand hectares followed by coconut, covering an area of about 28.8 thousand hectares. Apart from these, there are many other plantation crops like tea, coffee and rubber, cashew nut, walnut etc. which also cover a sizeable area in the region (Table 6).

                    The state wise and commodity wise area and production of different fruit crops in different states are shown in Table 7. However, passion fruit is becoming popular in most of the North Eastern states due to its pleasant flavour and attractive natural colour and kiwi is becoming popular in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh due to its adaptability in these states.

                    In case of vegetables Assam has maximum area under potato (75.3 thousand ha), cabbage (18.5 thousand ha), brinjal (12.5 thousand ha), sweet potato (9.4 thousand ha), onion (7.8 thousand ha) and cauliflower (12.5 thousand ha). Meghalaya has second largest acreage of potato (20.8 thousand ha) after Assam (Table 8).

                    As far as spices are concerned Meghalaya is the leading state in case of ginger (7.4 thousand ha) followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. While the Assam has maximum area of chilli (14.3 thousand ha) followed by ginger and turmeric (Table 9). Sikkim is highly suitable for large cardamon. In case of plantation crops Assam has maximum area of arecanut (74.1 thousand ha) & coconut (19.7 thousand ha) (Table 10). The data regarding ornamental crops is not available as it is confined to backyard of the houses and governmental institutions. However, in Assam, Sikkim and Manipur sizeable area under ornamental crops.

 

Table 5: Crop wise area and production of spices in NE region (1997-98)

 

NE States

India

Crop

Area (,000 ha)

Production

(,000 tonnes)

Productivity

(t/ha)

Area (,000 ha)

Production

(,000 tonnes)

Productivity

(t/ha)

Ginger

16.4

104.4

6.4

67.2

233.9

3.5

Turmeric

13.6

20.8

1.5

124.6

487.4

3.9

Chilli

29.7

23.5

0.8

831.5

821.8

0.98

Source: National Horticulture Board, 2002-Year Book.

 

Table 6: Area, production and productivity of plantation crops in NE states     (1997-98)

Crop

Area (,000 ha)

Production (,000 tonnes)

Productivity (t/ha)

Coconut

28.8

20.0

0.7

Arecanut

86.1

79.7

0.9

Source: Directorate of Cashew nut Development, Ministry of Agriculture, GOI

 

                    Considering the excellent climatic conditions, abundant rainfall and fertile soil (high organic content) of the region the productivity of different horticultural crops is quite low as compared to national productivity but horticulture bears the bright future in the region and it has every opportunity to be developed as valuable processed food product and produce export quality fruits, vegetables, flowers and other horticultural products.

 

Table 7: State-wise and commodity-wise area and production of fruits (1998-99)

                                                                                                    Area in 000’ha, production 000’t

Fruits

Arunachal Pradesh

Assam

Manipur

Meghalaya

Mizoram

Nagaland

Sikkim

Tripura

Apple

A

6.5

-

-

-

0.1

0.1

-

-

P

16.0

-

-

-

0.1

0.2

-

-

Banana

A

3.4

41.9

1.4

5.2

3.2

1.5

-

4.0

P

11.6

581.9

11.5

63

16.5

32.7

-

27.4

Citrus

A

8.0

14.4

1.3

7.5

8.8

1.9

6.8

8.5

P

20.8

114.9

6.3

35.6

33.5

26.1

6.0

57.5

Guava

A

1.0

3.7

0.7

-

0.5

0.5

-

-

P

2.6

47.6

2.4

-

3.5

3.6

-

-

Litchi

A

0.6

4.0

-

-

0.1

0.5

-

4.7

P

0.2

16.8

-

-

0.4

2.5

-

26.6

Mango

A

0.1

2.6

0.2

-

0.6

0.2

-

-

P

0.1

17.2

1.0

-

3.0

0.5

-

-

Papaya

A

0.6

7.3

1.9

0.5

0.3

0.3

-

0.5

P

2.6

108.5

10.3

4

3.2

2.6

-

2.7

Pineapple

A

7.3

13.6

10.0

9.3

1.1

1.8

-

4.3

P

30.2

209

69.8

80.4

7.8

60.0

-

36.5

Others

A

2.3

17.3

8.3

0.7

1.5

4.5

2.7

8.4

P

7.5

153.7

14.1

3.5

8.8

23.5

2.3

221.5

Total

A

29.8

104.8

23.8

23.2

16.2

11.3

9.5

30.4

P

91.6

1249.6

115.4

186.5

76.8

151.7

8.3

372.2

 

Table 8: Vegetables & Tuber Crops in the N.E. region 1997-98

Vegetables/Tuber crops

 

Arunachal Pradesh

Assam

Manipur

Meghalaya

Mizoram

Nagaland

Tripura

All India

Potato

A

4.5

75.3

3.2

20.8

0.7

3.8

4.9

1208.9

P

33.3

671.9

16.9

200.5

3.7

30.7

91.3

17652.3

Cabbage

(1995-96)

A

-

18.5

-

-

-

-

-

218.4

P

-

227.5

-

-

-

-

-

3861.7

Sweet potato

A

-

9.4

0.0

5.2

0.6

0.7

1.1

128.8

P

-

32.6

0.1

17.0

3.2

7.8

9.7

1171

Tapioca

A

-

2.5

-

4.0

0.5

0.8

-

264.3

P

-

11.7

-

21.1

7.0

15.8

-

6681.9

Brinjal

A

-

12.5

-

-

-

-

-

434.2

P

-

187.7

-

-

-

-

-

6443.1

Onion

A

-

7.8

-

-

-

-

0.1

338.5

P

-

17.9

-

-

-

-

0.2

3142.8

Cauliflower

A

-

12.5

-

-

-

-

-

220.0

P

-

120.0

-

-

-

-

-

2474.0

Source: Basic Statistics of North Eastern region 2000

 

Table 9: State wise area and production of spices in NE region in the year 1997-98

                                                                                                    Area-000’ha, Production-000’ t, Yield-kg/ha

State

Area, production & yield

Ginger

Turmeric

Chillies

Arunachal Pradesh

A

4.2

0.3

1.3

P

32.1

1.0

1.6

Y

7.7

3.3

1.2

Assam

A

-

10.1

14.3

P

-

7.0

9.5

Y

-

0.7

6.6

Manipur

A

0.7

-

7.2

P

1.2

-

4.3

Y

1.7.

-

0.6-

Meghalaya

A

7.4

1.4

1.8

P

45.3

6.4

1.1

Y

6.2

4.6

0.6

Mizoram

A

2.6

0.4

2.8

P

20.4

3.6

3.3

Y

7.9

9.0

1.2

Nagaland

A

0.5

-

0.4

P

0.4

-

2.7

Y

0.8

-

6.8

Tripura

A

1.0

1.4

1.9

P

1.4

2.8

1.0

Y

1.4

2.0

0.5

NEH region

A

16.4

13.6

29.7

P

104.4

20.8

23.5

Y

6.4

1.5

0.8

India

A

67.2

1246

831.5

P

233.9

487.4

821.8

Y

3.5

3.9

1.0

      Source: Agril. Research Data Book ICAR, 2002

 

Table 10: Fruit nuts in the NE region 1997-98

                                                                                  Area in 000’ha, production 000’t, * Million nuts

Fruits/Nuts

 

Arunachal Pradesh

Assam

Manipur

Meghalaya

Mizoram

Nagaland

Tripura

Coconut

A

-

19.2

-

-

-

-

9.1

P*

-

126.9

-

-

-

-

6.1

Arecanut

A

-

74.1

-

9.5

0.7

-

1.8

P

-

64.0

-

12.1

0.1

-

3.5

Cashewnut

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

P

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Walnut

A

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

P

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Source: Basic Statistics of North Eastern Region, 2000

 

Status of Horticultural Research in NE Region

Research Infrastructure

                    The ICAR is carrying out horticulture research in the region through NEH Research Complex, Barapani (Meghalaya); National Research Centre for Orchids, Gangtok (Sikkim); Central Potato Research Station, Upper Shillong (Meghalaya) and Central Plantation Crops Research Institute Regional Station, Kahikuchi (Assam). In addtion Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat and its research stations are contributing to horticulture research and development in Assam. Further, 11 Research Centers of All India Coordinated Research Projects on vegetables, potato, tuber crops, palms and betelvine located at AAU, Jorhat, Tinsukia and Kahikuchi are conducting multilocational trials for identifying promising cultivars for the region. Twelve Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in the region and one Trainers Training Centre (TTC) in Meghalaya are providing research back-up support towards popularization of improved technology and development of skilled manpower for various horticultural programmes.

                    Concerted research efforts have been made by research institutions to identify a large number of improved varieties and production technologies of fruits, vegetables and tuber crops including potato and plantation crops suitable for the region.

 

Fruits Crops: Based on survey conducted in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and Assam to ascertain the status of orange orchards, a large number of economic citrus species were collected and analyzed for physio-chemical characteristics. Lucknow-49 and Allhabad Safeda were the suitable varieties of guava for mid hill situation. Agro-techniques for high density planting and fertilizer schedule for guava were standardized. Florodasun, TA-170 and Shan-e-Punjab were most suitable peach varieties for mid hills of Meghalaya.

 

Vegetable and tuber crops: Three tomato varieties namely Manileima, Manikhamnu and Manithoibi were released by State Variety Release Committee, Manipur and found suitable for rice-based cropping system. Tomato varieties namely BT-2, Arka Alok, Arka Abha, and LE-79 were identified as bacterial wilt resistant varieties. Among the hybrids, the promising ones are Arka Vardhan, HOE 303, Swaraksha, S-7610, Avinash-2 and Rocky. In brinjal, Pant Samrat and Arka Shirish and hybrid HOE 414 were the promising cultivars. Among the tuber crops, C-7 and TVM-293 in colocasia and S-162, Sonipat-2, X-69 and S-30 in sweet potato have been identified high yielding and most suitable varieties for the region. Turmeric and ginger are high remunerative crops for the farmers. Turmeric variety Megha turmeric-1 (earlier known as RCT-1) and ginger variety Nadia were found suitable for the region.

 

Potato: The CPRI Station in Meghalaya has developed a number of improved varieties and appropriate management practices. The productivity is fairly high particularly in Tripura (17.1 t/ha) and the state has achieved distinction in producing TPS on commercial scale. Kufri Khasi Garo and Kufri Jyoti have been recommended for main and autumn season crops for the region. Among the recently developed cultivars, Kufri Megha and Kufri Giriraj, resistant to late blight, are widely under cultivation. A number of improved cultural practices have also been developed for the region.

 

Plantation crops: Research work has been undertaken by CPCRI Regional Station, Kahikuchi for development of improved cultivars of different plantation crops. A profitable coconut-arecanut based cropping system involving spices and fruit crops has been developed for the region.

 

Biotechnology: Protocols have been developed for micro propagation of different citrus species used as rootstock for C. reticulata as well as Khasi mandarin. Successful and cheap acclimatization methods have been developed for acclimatizing micro propagated citrus plantlets.

Apart from above there are other promising varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, tuber and rhizomatous crops, plantation crops and ornamental crops which were tested in the region, found suitable and recommended for commercial cultivation (Table 11).

Table11: Promising horticultural crop varieties recommended for NE Region

Vegetables

 

Crop

Varieties

Brinjal

PPC, KT-4, Pant Samrat, Pant Rituraj

Cabbage

Golden Acre, Pride of India, Pusa Mukta

Cauliflower

Snowball-16, Pusa Subhra, Pusa Snowball K-1, Pusa Himjyoti, Meghalaya Local

Carrot

Pusa Yamdagni, Nantes

Radish

Meghalaya Local

French bean

VL-Boni-1, Arka Komal

Peas

Arkel, Lincoln, PM-2, VL-3

Tomato

Arka Saurabh, Arka Alok, Arka Abha, Sel-1, Sel-2, Sel-3

Capsicum

California Wonder

Chillies

Pusa Jwala, K-2

Okra

Parbhani Kranti, Arka Anamika

Cucumber

Poinsette

Hybrids

Brinjal

Pusa Hybrid 5&6

Capsicum

KT-1, Bharat, Hira

Tomato

Vaishali, Rupali, Avinash-2, Pusa Hybrid-2

Carrot

Hybrid-1

Cauliflower

Pusa Synthetic, Pusa Hybrid-2

Cabbage

Fuji, Sri Ganesh Gol

Bottle gourd

Pusa Meghdoot, Pusa Manjari

Cucumber

Pusa Sanyog

Chilli

Agni

Fruits

Crops

Varieties

Guava

Allahabad Safeda, L-49

Citrus

Khasi mandarin, Assam lemon, Eureka, Kachai lemon, Lime

Banana

Jahaji, Barjahaji, Chenichampa, Malbhog, Sabri, Manohar, Kachkal

Pineapple

Kew, Queen

Kiwi

Allison, Abbor, Masty, Tamuri, Bruno

Litchi

Sahi, China, Bedana, Rose Scented

Mango

Amrapali (Tripura)

Passion Fruit

Kaveri, Local varieties of the region

Spices

Crops

Varieties

Ginger

Nadia, China

Turmeric

Megha Turmeric-1 (RCT-1), Lakadang.

Plantation crop

 

Arecanut

Mangla, Sumangla

 

 

Major Constraints

                    Though the NE region has high potential for the development of horticultural crops, efforts have not been made to develop it as a commercial venture. Factors inhibiting horticultural development in the region are as follows:

 

Shifting cultivation:

                    Shifting cultivation also known as jhuming is widely prevalent in North Eastern states of India. This jhuming cycle which extended to 15-20 years earlier has now been shortened to 2-3 years because of increased population pressure on land, decrease in productivity leading to utilization of more area under jhuming. At present about 0.5 million hectare area is under shifting cultivation in whole NE region. This system has caused large-scale deforestation, soil degradation/erosion (removes nutrient rich top soil) and depletion of resource base.

 

Poor cultivation practices and low yield

                    General neglect and non-adoption of scientific cultivation practices are the major constraints for poor return from most of the horticultural crops in this region. Despite conducive environment, the rate of production and growth of all horticultural crops are far below the all India average.

 

Lack of desirable planting material

                    The disease free, true to type genuine planting material is absolutely lacking in a number of horticultural crops. It is imperative to produce disease free propagules. Screening of planting materials before its distribution is of utmost importance.

 

Lack of marketing facilities

                    Due to lack of organized marketing structure in this region, farmers are getting low return compared to the other parts of India, whereas the middleman gets the profit at their expenses. Except the organized tea industry, almost all the commodities including specialized products like citronella oil the producers face considerable marketing problems. Due to thin primary markets and perishable nature of the products the farmers sell their produce at a throw away prices to the middleman without even getting the opportunity to display them. Transportation of perishable produces is perhaps the most serious constraints in the horticultural development of this region.

 

Scarcity of trained manpower and extension support

                    Dearth of trained manpower and  low priority to horticulture in the development plans of states despite high potential are some of the factors responsible for ineffective extension programme. Unlike other states of India like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, etc., where the extension services are very efficient, the NE region on the other hand is lagging far behind in this aspect. To strengthen this wing not only trained manpower but determined extension activities with full government support are most urgently required.

 

Land tenure system or land ownership system

                    Land tenure or land ownership system and laws are somewhat peculiar in the NE region. The whole system fall under the following three broad categories;

·         Lands owned by the villagers collectively

·         Lands owned by the chiefs, who allot land among the individual households for shifting cultivation purposes, and

·         Lands owned by individual families.

                    Since horticultural crops have long gestation period and initial cost of establishment of orchard or plantation is high, it becomes almost impossible for the marginal farmers to go for such ventures without long-term credits from financial institutions like banks. Nationalized banks, do not find it a very favourable investment and are not sure about the recovery of loans because the land tenure system particularly in the tribal belts does not permit land mortgages in favour of lending banks. As the tribal farmers cannot ask for loans individually, intermediaries like District Councils or Village Council can take active part in securing loans for them. Apart from these difficulties, the farmers are not tuned to the idea of considering agriculture as a business proposition and are not accustomed to bank loans. From the available information the share of agriculture in most of the states is less than 10% of outstanding credit of the banks with exception to Assam and Tripura. Thus, until and unless this system is changed, the financial investment will not increase to the national level.

 

Problems of processing

                    For a region like this the success of fruits and vegetable growing is closely linked with the success of fruit processing units, because of poor marketing and transport facilities. The processing industry can help in sorting out the problem of proper disposal of perishable commodities. Till today, there are hardly any cold storage facilities available; few processing units exist but are not functioning up to the desired capacity. Use of appropriate pre and post harvest practices for horticultural crops is vital for the success of the crops and to provide good return to the growers. Unfortunately this is the weakest spot in the entire region. Value addition should be given top priority for the crops like ginger and turmeric. Production of oleoresin from ginger, turmeric and chilli using improved techniques as developed by CFTRI, Mysore needs to be tested in the region.

 

Financial constraints

                    The high capital cost involved in establishing orchard/plantation and setting up of required infrastructure is a serious constraint in the expansion of area under horticultural crops. The situation becomes all the more difficult in view of the large number of small holdings.

 

Less expenditure on research work

                    Investments for research on horticulture have always remained low when compared to the large number of crops it covers. This results in poor technological support. The extension system is also weak. The Department of Horticulture has been created in many states but, do not have adequate manpower and infrastructure to address the entire problem of horticulture.

 

Absence of insurance facility

                    Risk management in horticultural crops is non-existent although crops like onion and potato are covered under the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme. There is a need to cover the risk in case of other horticultural crops in a different manner, perhaps on the basis of potential production coverage instead of average yield. This would encourage higher investment to achieve high productivity.

 

The other major bottlenecks are as follows: -

Ø      Inadequate thrust on conservation and exploitation of horticultural germplasm.

Ø      Lack of funds and financial support from government for purchase of quality seeds/planting materials & other inputs.

Ø      Remoteness of the region.

Ø       High rainfall, soil erosion and high rate of leaching of nutrients.

Ø      Heavy infestation of weeds, insect-pests and diseases.

Ø      Lack of needed information.

Ø      Lack of awareness about the potentiality of   horticultural crops as commercial crop.

Ø      Lack of need based research as sustainable agricultural system/silvi-horti-pastoral system in the need of the hour.

Ø      Weak data base.

 

Future thrust

1.      Collection, characterization and conservation of germplasm:

There is a need for extensive survey of the region and collection of all the germplasm available in the region. These germplasm should be characterized on morphological and molecular basis and conserved at one place. These germplasm should be utilized in strategic breeding programme involving high yielding national / exotic varieties.

 

2.      Identification of area specific major horticultural crops:

There is need to identify important horticultural crops for different areas of the region. The infrastructure facilities for commercial cultivation, marketing, export and processing / value addition for identified crop should be developed in that part of the region, for example, Khasi mandarin and ginger for Meghalaya, arecanut for Assam, Litchi and pineapple for Tripura, orchids for Sikkim etc. There is also need to identify the high yielding varieties and hybrids available in the country in selected crops for different agroclimatic zones of the region.

 

3.      Hi-tech horticulture:

High-tech horticulture is the deployment of any technology, which is modern, less environment dependent, capital intensive and has the capacity to improve the productivity and quality of horticultural crops. Adoption of this technology in horticultural crops is necessary to ensure the nutritional security of future generation. Hi-tech horticulture includes micro propagation, micro irrigation, fertigation, protected cultivation (greenhouse / polyhouse cultivation), organic farming, mechanization and use of remote sensing.

 

4.      Infrastructure for horticulture:

The basic infrastructure facilities like pre-cooling units, packing and grading shed, short and long term cold storage facilities, refrigerated containers, storage and phytosanitary facilities at mandi are lacking in the region. Therefore, there is urgent need to create basic infrastructure facilities to boost the horticulture in the region.

 

5.      Establishment of agricultural technology information centre (ATIC):

There is need to establish ATIC in different states of the region. Information through internet connection, should be provided regarding demand, supply, price market outlook, knowledge of consumers’ preference, marketing channels and practices.

 

6.      Conduction of on-farm trials / frontline demonstration (FLD):

The farmers of the region are not aware with the recent technologies of horticulture. Therefore, there is need to conduct demonstration / FLD as much as possible at farmers’ field in the identified crops to convince the farmers about the efficacy of measures in enhancing the productivity of identified crops. Apart from this the extension personnel should try to bring the maximum number of farmers to demonstration plots, organize farmers day, fair and yield competition, distribute leaflets / bulletins to the farmers.

 

7.      Post harvest management and processing:

The region is lacking in trained personnel with sound knowledge of post harvest management of produce. There is also a need for integrated research for post harvest handling, packaging, transportation, storage and quality control of perishable commodities. There is also a need to establish processing units to formulate value addition products of excess produce.

 

8.      Strengthening of horticultural farms and nurseries:

The different horticultural farms and nurseries of the region which are meant for supply of disease free, healthy, true to type planting materials of fruits, vegetables and ornamental crops should be strengthened so as to meet the increasing demand for planting materials. The important rootstocks / mother tree stock should also be maintained at these horticultural farms/nurseries.

 

9.      Training to farmers/extension functionaries:

Non-availability of trained manpower is one of the major problems of the region. As horticulture requires highly skilled personnel for grafting, pruning, orchard management and also for vegetables and ornamental plants. The farmer as well as extension functionaries should be given training from time to time regarding recent advances in horticulture. The entrepreneurship should also be generated by providing training to entrepreneurs for overall development of horticulture in the region.

 

10.  Protected cultivation:

The NE states are dominated by hilly areas thus they are highly suitable for protected/off season cultivation of high value vegetable crops like tomato and capsicum and flowers/ornamentals crops.

 

11.  Emphasis on organic farming:

There is need for research on standardization of doses of different organic fertilizers like FYM, green manure, vermi-compost, neem cake, biofertilizers (Rhizobium, azotobactor, VAM), etc., in different crops. The emphasis should be given on the use of locally available organic materials.

 

12.  Research on under utilized crop:

There is need for research on under utilized/lesser known horticultural crops for their commercialisation, because these crops are grown at very large scale, in the region. For example passion fruit which is grown in Mizoram at very large scale is becoming popular in other states also. Passion fruit is having export potential due to pleasant flavour and attractive natural colour of the juice.

 

13.  Crop diversification:

While giving emphasis on one or two crops, the other crops should also be taken into account to make agriculture sustainable. For example, after ginger and turmeric, which are heavy nutrient feeder, leguminous vegetables like cowpea, pea, etc., should be grown to maintain the fertility of the soil. Similarly, agri-horti-suilvi-pastoral system or multistorey system and agroforestry will be more successful in hilly areas.

 

The other points which may be taken in to consideration for developing the horticulture industry in the region are -

¨      Introduction of export quality horticultural crops suitable for the region. For example kiwi fruit for Sikkim, black pepper for Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, cashewnut for Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.

¨       Technology for the low cost hybrid vegetable seed production.

¨       Production of quality seeds (conventional/hybrid) and planting materials.

¨       Working out the dynamics of production constraints.

¨       Revival of Khasi mandarin cultivation through refinement of rejuvenation practices.

¨       Furtherance of research on development of models of multiple cropping including high-density cropping in fruit crops.

¨       Production of true potato seeds (TPS).

¨       Intensification of research on water management including drip system.

¨       Improvement of shelf life and product diversification of banana, pineapple and litchi, citrus, tomato, capsicum, etc.

¨      Development of floriculture and establishment of at least one model village of floriculture near urban center supported with modern sales center at near by city and linkage with APEDA for export.

¨      Establishment of biotech unit (tissue culture lab) for production of disease free planting material in important crops like citrus, banana and ornamental crops etc.

 

On the basis of area and production the major horticultural crops identified for the different states are given in Table 12.

 

Table 12: Major horticultural crops identified for different states

 States

 

Horticultural crops

Arunachal Pradesh

Fruits

Citrus , apple, walnut, banana, pear, plum , kiwi

Vegetables

Pea , beans, colocassia

Spices

Ginger, large cardamom, turmeric

Assam

Fruits

Banana, citrus, pineapple, jackfruit, guava, papaya

Vegetables

Potato, cabbage, sweet potato, brinjal, onion, cauliflower

Spices

Chilli, ginger, turmeric, black pepper

Plantation crops

Arecanut, cashewnut, coconut

Manipur

Fruits

Pineapple, citrus, banana, passion fruit

Vegetables

tomato,cabbage, cauliflower

Spices

Chilli, ginger, turmeric

Meghalaya

Fruits

Pineapple, citrus, banana

Vegetables

Potato, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, French bean, tomato, capsicum

Spices

Ginger, turmeric

Plantation crops

Arecanut

Mizoram

Fruits

Citrus, banana, passion fruit

Vegetables

Chow-chow, cabbage, pumpkin, brinjal, beans

Spices

Ginger, turmeric, chilli

Plantation crops

Arecanut

Nagaland

Fruits

Pineapple, banana, citrus, passion fruit

Vegetables

Colocasia, chow-chow, tapioca, potato, pea

Spices

Garlic, chilli, ginger

Sikkim

Fruits

Citrus, kiwi fruit

Vegetables

Cabbage, French bean, chow-chow

Spices

Large cardamom, chilli

Tripura

Fruits

Citrus, pineapple, banana, jack fruit, mango, litchi

Vegetables

Potato, brinjal, sweet potato, beans, tomato

Spices

Chilli, ginger, black pepper

Plantation crops

Arecanut, coconut, cashewnut

 

References

 

Annonymous, 2002. Agriculture Today, Dec. 2002

Annonymous, 2000. Basic Statistics of North Eastern Region 2000.North Eastern Councel, Ministry of Home Affair, GOI, Shillong.

Annonymous, 2002. Agril. Research Data Book, ICAR, 2002.

Annonymous, 2002. National Horticulture Board, Year Book-2002. Associated Publishing Company, New Delhi, 230p.

Ghosh, S.P. 1985. Horticulture in North Eastern India. Indian J. Hill Farming 7: 11-21.

Negi, J.P. 2002. Horticulture development in India: An Aids to Rural Economy. In: Souvenir, 62nd Annual conference of Indian Society of Agril Economics, Dec 19-21, 2002, IARI, New Delhi.

Sarkar, A.N. 1994. Resource potential and bio-diversity of North Eastern Region.

Verma, N.D. and Bhatt, B.P. 2001. Steps towards modernization of Agriculture in NEH Region. Venus Printers and Publishers, New Delhi, 536p.

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ENVIS Bulletin : Himalayan Ecology 11(2), 2003

G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development

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