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Avenues of Vegetable Production in Hilly Region

Posted in Vegetable Crops by Administrator on the April 22nd, 2008

Himachal Pradesh is gifted with a variety of agro-climatic conditions due to variation in elevation (350m to 7000m) and aspect which makes the state as an ideal one fort the production of a wide range of vegetable crops. To day Himachal Pradesh has emerged as an important vegetable growing state particularly for the production of Tomato, Capsicum, French bean and Cucumber during off season. Due to cooler climatic conditions in lower hill areas of the state as compared to plains ,these crops ripen at the time when the crop is almost over in the plains there by creating a readily available market for the vegetable growers of state .

Vegetable crops are considered most suitable altenate to bring about diversification into the traditional farming systems relevant in hills. The diversification in hill agriculture can be brought through introduction of rare exotic vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, red cabbage, Brussels’s sprouts and Swiss chards. The cultivation of early maturing and short duration crop varieties of traditional vegetables such as tomato, capsicum, french bean, pea, cabbage, cauliflower and ginger will be very helpfuin increasing the vegetable productivityl. A vast spectrum of hybrid varieties of tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, cabbage and cauliflower as well as European carrots suited for microclimates conditions need to be developed to bring higher economic returns. Protected cultivation of vegetable nursery in tunnels and polyhouses to synchronizing the timing of availabilty of vegetables in relation to market demand will also be an important strategy.

With the advances in vegetable breeding and production, many non traditional areas in the plains have started producing vegetables in the season when they used to receive these vegetables from hills therby providing tough competition, consequently, it is only high quality of vegetables produced from hill which can help to withstand competition. Besides it, vegetable produce can provide ample employment potential and suit the small and marginal farmers of the hills. To stabilize economic transformation brought about by off-season vegetables such as tomato, bell pepper, beans, peas, cabbage and cauliflower following strategies could be adopted.

Strategies

a. There is need to develop quality hybrids, suited to agro-climatic conditions of the hills in case of tomato, bell pepper, cabbage and cauliflower. The collaboration between private and public sectors is essential for assured availability of high quality seed at reasonable price round the year.

b. To maintain the seasonality and to lower the cost of production as well as to make cultivation of vegetables sustainable and eco-friendly, stress has to be laid on developing varieties resistant to insect pests and diseases and other stresses like heat, cold, drought and high rainfall.

c. For commercial production, availability of irrigation water is very important. Since water is availability is scarce in some areas, the use of drip irrigation and proper watershed management should be followed. This will help in increasing the area under vegetable in the hills.

d. The efforts should be made to produce the seed of temperate vegetables, such as cabbage, European carrots, radish, garden beets and cole crops as this part of the country is most suited for seed production of temperate vegetables. Therefore full advantage of these climatic conditions should be taken by adopting seed production of thes crops

e. Since the post-harvest losses in vegetables are quite high, there is need to develop suitable technology which could reduce the losses after harvest.

f. Heavy post-harvest losses to the tune of 25-30 percent are responsible for non-availability of vegetables in sufficient quantities to large section of the population. In order to meet challenges of nutritional security, sincere attention is required on creation and strengthening of post-harvest infrastructures on the aspects of post-harvest disease control, maturity standards and harvesting techniques, primary processing and on form waxing, availability of packaging cases and packaging material, pre-cooling, zero-energy cool chamber and cool chain, processing of under utilized vegetables and waste utilization.

Export orientation

In the present scenario of globalization, the production of non traditional export oriented vegetables such as asparagus, bell pepper, celery, baby corn, brussels’s sprout, broccoli and red cabbage should be increased. The demand of these vegetables exists in South East Asia and European countries. The cultivation of these vegetables can be very easily done outdoor in the hills. Therefore stress can laid on the cultivation of these vegetables

Strategies for Export

a. Identification of pocket areas, where these export oriented vegetables can be grown to the standards of international quality.

b. Giving special treatments to vegetables during storage, package, handling and transportation to maintain the quality standards as desired by APEDA.

c. Developing closer links with Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) which has identified vegetables like onion, garlic, potato, okra, bitter gourd, chillies, asparagus, celery, sweet pepper and tomato for export. These vegetables are non traditional and suited for products in the hills.

It is desirable that the diverse and rich agro-ecological farming situations of the State of Himachal Pradesh are explored for the cultivation of variety of vegetables with tremendous domestic marketing as well as international market. Structural changes introduction system via diversification, value addition, harmonious integration of modern and indigenous know how, organized marketing strategies and infrastructural development are needed for the sustainable development in Himachal Pradesh.

Dr.J.S.Kanwar
Former Head,
Deptt of Vegetable Crops,
Punjab Agricultural University,
Ludhiana, India