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Gujarat racing ahead in floriculture, horticulture

Gujarat racing ahead in floriculture, horticulture

Author: Virendra Pandit
Publication: The Hindu Business Line
Date: May 26, 2011
URL: http://www.thehindubusinessline.in/2010/05/27/stories/2010052752752100.htm

Gujarat's business acumen and entrepreneurial zest is passé; the State's leap-frogging with 11 per cent agricultural growth, praised by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last year, is old hat too.

What is new is this: Gujarat may now export more 'kesar', the famous mango variety of the State, to West Asia than Maharashtra sells alphonso; the State has entered Goa market with cashew nut; and an Ahmedabad-based part-time floriculturist sells Dutch roses worth Rs 3 lakh a month in the city itself!

Clearly, the semi-arid State is witnessing a revolution in floriculture and horticulture.

Water management

"Laments that scarce rains damage prospects of good crop are meaningless in Gujarat which has mastered the art of water management with 1,33,732 check dams and 2,49,537 farm ponds constructed or deepened in the State over the last one decade," a senior government official told Business Line here.

Apart from water management, the Gujarat farmers have taken up drip irrigation in a big way. With the State-promoted Gujarat Green Revolution Company (GGRC) earmarking investment of Rs 1,500 crore over a period of five years, the area under drip irrigation has increased from 30,000 hectares in 2004-05 to two lakh hectare in 2009-10.

"In fact, around 100 villages in Gujarat are now solely dependent on sprinklers for their farming activity," the official said.

While nearly 105 lakh hectares of land has so far been brought under cultivation of agriculture, the last six years have seen the area under horticulture increase from 9.69 lakh hectare to 12.68 lakh hectare in the State.

In 2009-10, the State produced 152.74 lakh tonnes of horticulture produce, including banana, papaya, mango, guava and tomato.

Kesar mangoes

The idea of a Junagarh farmer, Batuksinh, to cultivate the kesar variety of mango caught on in Valsad in the 1990s and this has replaced all other rivals in the State now.

Kesar cultivation started in 2005 even in Kutch, the driest district of Gujarat. Now, the border district is poised to export around 90,000 tonnes, as against 25,564 tonnes last year, of the King of Fruits to West Asia this year, with 7,800 hectares of arid land brought under cultivation there.

After Kaprada (Valsad), the tribal district of the Dangs has commenced cultivation of cashew nuts and has found market even in Goa, home to cashew nut. The area under cashew nut has now doubled from 4,127 hectare in 2009-10.


Floriculture, too, has emerged as a new farming business in Gujarat, with area under cultivation almost doubling to 12,534 hectare in 2009-10, compared to 6,956 hectare in 2004-05.

The State, which is actively promoting cultivation of rose, marigold, mogra and lily, produced 95,185 tonnes of flowers in 2009-10. The State now has 165 green-houses for floriculture that defy the vagaries of Nature impacting floriculture.

The area under spices has increased from 3.58 lakh hectare to 4.96 lakh hectare, with a lion's share of cumin (3.11 lakh ha).

Mr Mahendra Patel, an electronics goods dealer at Ahmedabad, developed a fancy for cultivating Dutch roses when he came across an Israeli Web site. Inspired, he toured flower producing areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka and started cultivating Dutch roses in two acres of his 18-acre farm at Kashindra village near here in August 2009.

He also received a government grant of Rs 13 lakh per acre and is now earning Rs 3 lakh a month by selling his produce in the city.

Next, he is planning to market Dutch roses in Delhi, Jaipur and Bangalore too, the official said.

Since 2004-05, the area under cultivation of fruits has phenomenally increased by 10 times, from 2.72 lakh hectare to 21.71 lakh hectare with mango (1.21 lakh ha), banana (61,919 ha) and citrus (37,076 ha) leading the pack. Similarly, the area under vegetables has increased from 3.31 lakh hectare to 4.06 lakh hectare, with potato and onion constituting a quarter of this area.

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