• Chairman, ISSH2016
  • Patron ISSH2016 (Dean, School of Earth Sciences & Natural Resources Management)
  • Convener  
  • Organizing Board
  • Distinguished Guests and Invitees
  • Friends from the Media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

I am extremely happy to address the valedictory session of International symposium on Sustainable Horticulture.  It is an extremely relevant topic and has global implications, for food is vital for the existence of all living beings and its demand is ever increasing. 

Global food demand is expected to be double by 2050, while the production environment and natural resources are continuously shrinking and deteriorating. Horticulture, a major sector of agriculture, has to also take part in enhancing crop production and productivity in parity with agricultural crops to meet the emerging food demand. There are projections that demand for food grains would increase from 192 million tonnes in 2000 to 345 million tonnes in 2030. Hence in the next 15 years, production of food grains needs to be increased at the rate of5.5 million tonnes annually.

The demand for high-value commodities (such as horticulture, dairy, livestock and fish) is increasing faster than food grains—for most of the high-value food commodities demand is expected to increase by more than 100% from 2000 to 2030. These commodities are all perishable ones and require different infrastructure for handling, value-addition, processing and marketing.

Asia is the major crop producing continent.  It is an emerging global super power because of increasing skilled and energetic human resource and faster developing technological and economic growth. Thus, it is to play a major role to meet the projected global food demand. However, the developing Asiatic countries are more or less facing the common problem of diminution of cultivable land with massive signature of rapid urbanization.

Apart from that, all the contemporary production limitations viz. depleting land fertility, unequal cross-subsidy and more predominantly vagaries of climate change; put forth a tough task to perform. India, the second most important Asiatic food grain producer, is facing a more grim production situation. The average size of the land holding has declined to 1.32 ha in 2000-01from 2.30 ha in 1970-71, and absolute number of operational holdings increased from about 70million to 121 million. If this trend continues, the average size of holding in India would be mere 0.68 ha in 2020, and would be further reduced to a low of 0.32 ha in 2030. Declining of share of agriculture including horticulture in gross domestic product is a serious cause of concern. Besides, annually, India is losing/depleting nearly 0.8 million tonnes of nitrogen, 1.8 million tonnes of phosphorus and 26.3 million tonnes of potassium which deteriorates quality and health of the soil. Problems are further aggravated by imbalanced application of nutrients (especially nitrogen, phosphorus and potash), and excessive mining of micronutrients, leading to deficiency of macro- and micro nutrients in the soil. Similarly, the water-table is lowering steeply in most of the irrigated areas, and water quality isalso deteriorating, due to leaching of salts and other pollutants.

Mizoram as we all know is endowed with nature’s bounty.  The State has the highest percentage of forest and tree cover in the country, which has to be sustained for the overall good.  About 70% of the people depend on agriculture and allied sectors for their livelihood.  The development of the agro-processing industry in Mizoram has a vast potential in terms of diversification and the commercialization of cash crops, while generating employment and increasing the incomes of people.  Horticulture is the best option to boost up the state economy as well as to provide farm sustainability in the long-run.  However, only 9.4% of the total potential area is covered, which proves that horticulture is still at its initial stages.

In this state, fulfilling the target with a sustainable model of crop production is really an enormous endeavour. It is, therefore, the earnest need to develop promising technologies and management options to raise productivity to meet growing food demand in a deteriorating production environment at the lowest cost; and to develop appropriate technologies, create required infrastructure and to evolve institutional arrangements for production, post-harvest and marketing of high-value and perishable commodities and their value-added products. Improved agro-techniques, quality planting material, improved varieties, climate resilient production model, involvement of information technology and biotechnology, improved post-harvest handling-storage and marketing are the key issues to focus to bring about the desired metamorphosis in global Horticulture. However, to achieve the goal with a sustainable production environment i.e. sustainability in terms of economy, ecology is a big factor.

I am certain that the symposium will exchange ideas, research experience and discuss several facets of sustainable horticulture to provide nutritional food for health and well being, including Management of genetic resources and biodiversity conservation, Production technology of horticultural crops, Crop improvement and biotechnology, Plant protection in horticultural crops, Post-harvest technology and value addition, Trade, marketing, entrepreneurship development and extension.

I expect the learned participants to come up with practical and doable suggestions for implementation in short, medium and long term.

Good Luck.  Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much for your attention.