Agribusiness with “Hearticulture”; Northeast –

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Manipur: Horticulture is truly acknowledged as the most important ‘enabler’ of diversifying agriculture, both in India as well as in the international scenario.

Worldwide, Horticulture has been lovingly acknowledged as “HEARTICULTURE” by horticulture enthusiasts. 2021 had been declared by United Nations General Assembly as “International Year of Fruits and Vegetables”. While agriculture with its ‘Green Revolution’ mitigated ‘hunger’ achieving ‘food security’ of the Nation since the late 1960s; Horticulture through its numerous ‘Revolutions’ aims to ensure ‘nutritional security of the entire population besides earning foreign exchange.

Nursery being one of the essential stakeholders in a Supply Chain or Value Chain of Horticulture, presently, in each of the eight States in NER, there are less than 10 nurseries that are dependable in terms of capacity to supply authentic saplings in the required quantity, as and when needed and at the affordable price. The extensive awareness provided by scientists from researchers from ICAR, AAU, CAU, CIH and KVKs, National Horticulture Board (NHB) had accredited few fruit nurseries in Assam (5), Mizoram (3), Nagaland (5), Sikkim (19) and Tripura (11) by the end of 2018. NHB partnering with CIH, Medziphema, is guiding accreditation of fruit nurseries.

The essential component for establishing a fruit nursery includes a suitable site preferably with an approachable road, there shall be expandable land. Trained laborers who are well versed with budding and grafting are to be employed. Nowadays forecast crop selection is adopted while raising the nurseries depending upon requirement ‘ordered’ for the coming season.

The Agri-preneurs as well as members of FPOs in NER are competent enough to establish horticulture nurseries with the capabilities to further expand the nursery from their produce.

NER should implement and enact Nurseries Registration Act as soon as possible. It would be appropriate to mention that Assam had initiated a unique mechanism of ‘Recognising Horticulture Nurseries’ wherein Joint Director Horticulture, assumes the role of administrative authority.

Nurseries in our region may target the organic nurseries or planting materials raised through organic nursery practices. Each state’s Agri-Horticulture Departments have State/district-specific schemes. Agri Start-Ups, Stand Up India, Make in India Schemes under MSME can be explored, MoA&FW’s Agri Clinic Agri-Business Centre (ACABC), Attempt for the Credit Linked Investment. Liaison with SFAC, APEDA, NABARD to explore becoming an FPOs Promoting Institution, State Dept. Of Forest & Environment, ICAR, Agri Universities, KVKs, and Dept. Of Tourism-related grants/subsidies.

A nursery may be classified depending upon the volume of the project cost from the investment viewpoint as Small (< Rs.10 Lac), Medium (Rs.10- 25 Lac), Large (Rs. 26- 50 Lac), Very Large (Rs. 51- 100 Lac), and Hi-Tech /Automated (> Rs. 100 Lac). A medium-scale nursery with a Capital Investment of Rs. 8,29,500/- and capitalized (for six months) recurring cost if Rs. 3,94,200 can generate an average gross annual revenue of Rs. 16,60,000/- considering a business cycle of 3-4 per year for sapling raising. Taking Discounting Factor @ 15% for a project period of five years, the venture is assessed to be technically feasible and economically viable with BCR 1.68 which practically acceptable in agri-allied ventures.

Only perfect planting materials ensure produces of quality and yield. Crops established from poor quality nurseries can never be improved even with world-class Good Agricultural or Horticultural Practices (GAP/ GHP).

Credit: Nongthombam Devachandra

(The writer is Assistant Professor (Fruit Science) Department of Fruit Science, College of Horticulture & Forestry (CAU, Imphal), Pasighat: 791102, Arunachal Pradesh, India; For further details contact:- Public Relation & Media Management Cell, CAU, Imphal. Email -prmm@cau.ac.in)