Horticulture
The art and science of growing flowers, fruits, ornamental plants and vegetables in small gardens or farm is called as Horticulture.

Importance and Scope of Horticulture
In India, we have several agro-ecological regions. Hence, there are ample oppurtunities to grow a variety of horticulture crops. Approximate estimates reveal that nearly 11-6 million hectares of land is covered by horticulture crops and the annual production is about 91 million tonnes. Horticulture crops, though they occupy hardly 7% of the cropped area, they contribute over 18% to the gross agricultural output of India.

India produces almost 28.2 million tonnes of fruits and 66 million tonnes of vegetables and is next only to Brazil and China. Though the per capita consumtion of fruits and vegetables in India is only around 46 kg and 130 g against a minimum of about 92 g and 300 g respectively recommended by Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Nutrition.

At the present growing rate, the requirements of fruits and vegetables, on a yearly basis would be nearly 32.58 million tonnes and 83 million tonnes respectively.

The need for attaining nutritional security and for more profitable use of land has made the growers aware of greater utilization of available wastelands and focussed their attention towards horticultural crops that demand less water and other inputs. They also earn 3 to 4 times more remuneration than other field crops.

Abundant sunshine throughout the year, surplus labour and varied agro-climate conditions offer high potential for commercial horticulture in the estimated 240 million acres of cultivable wasteland that is lying idle at present.

Scheme for Financing Development of Horticulture(Fruits,Flowers and Vegetables) and Plantation Crops
Purpose:
Financial assistance will be made available mainly for establishment and development of new orchards or groves of fruit crops, plantation crops, ornamental crops, medicinal plants, essential oil/aromatic plants etc, rejuvenation of existing orchards or plantation, raising vegetables ,raising flower crops, inter-cropping in horticultural crops, Marketing loan to meet picking, grading, crating, forwarding and transportation costs etc.

Eligibility:
Individual farmers or group of farmers with stipulated land holding , and Public Sector Undertakings or private firms desirous of seeking financial assistance for plantation of fruit trees or other economic plants on project basis.

Nature of Facility:
Short term loan or cash credit facility is provided for production purposes and Medium term loan for development of orchards or vegetable/flower gardens.

Extent of Loan:

Need based. However, working Capital loan would depend upon scales of finance. In case marketing loan is also considered, it does not exceed 20 per cent of the estimated value of crop.

Gestation Period:

Gestation period will vary with variety of plants/trees grown.

Repayment of Loan:

Short Term Loans:
Crop Loan: Loan disbursed for raising vegetable crops, flower crops or other inter-cropping shall be recovered within 6-8 weeks of harvest of crop unless loans are given as composite loans taking into account both production and investment credit needs. In such cases, loan would be recovered in 4-5 years.

Marketing Loan:
Repayment within 4 months from date of loan.

Medium Term Loan:

Repayment period (inclusive of gestation) in respect of medium term loans shall be in the range of 4-15 years.

Fruits
Apple grows well only in hilly and cold regions,  at a height of about 7000-9000 feet. The major apple producing states in India are Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

On the basis of gross value, bananna is considered to be the 4th most important food crop in the world. Its useful for patients with high blood pressure and heart disease. Also good for kidney diseases, ulcer and gastro-enteritis.

Cashew is grown both for its fruit as well as nuts. Citrus fruits, mainly mandarin orange, sweet orange and lime is grown in almost all the states of India.

Grape, a deciduous fruit is grown extensively in temperate regions. Guava, which is available at a moderate price has a pleasant aroma and good flavour and also a high nutritive value.

Litchi is another summer crop of India, which is consumed both fresh as well as used to make jams, jellies and squashes.

Papaya is mainly cultivated for fresh consumption as a part of breakfast dessert and is also used in fruit salad.

Land
Apple is mainly grown in Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and the hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh. Small quantities are also grown in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram and Bihar.

Banana is grown in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

Grape cultivation is mainly done in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Litchi is grown extensively in northern Bihar, western Uttar Pradesh and in Punjab and papaya grows in Karnataka, Orissa, Assam, West Bengal and Gujarat.

Pineapple is grown mainly in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa in a large scale whereas in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on a smaller scale.

Season
The best season for harvesting apples is during July-Sept in Uttar Pradesh and in July till Nov in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Bananna is a moisture and heat loving plant. It cannot tolerate frost or arid conditions.

Grape is a subtropical fruit, which grows well in dry summer. The vines shed their leaves in winter and new growth takes in spring and matures in summer.

Guava is the most adaptable of all trees and grows well in almost any type of soil and climatic conditions. It can withstand prolonged droughts but not frost. Main production of litchi takes place in may and june. Hot dry winds in summer, when its ripening are undesirable.

Papaya is intolerant of low temperatures. Strong winds can easily break the tree's weak stems.

Pineapple is a humid tropical plant and grows well, both in the plains and also the elevated areas but not exceding 900 meters. It cannot withstand either high temperatures or frost.

Fertilizers

Soil type and area of cultivation determines the requirement for fertilizers. The major nutrients required are Nitrogen, P2O5 and K2O. Areas receiving neem cake have significantly reduced Nematode population. Green manuring can be done wherever feasible.
 
Irrigation
About 1500 and 2000 mm of water is required every year at an average of 3 to 6 mm per day for banana's.

Citrus plants respond well to irrigation. The better irrigation, they get, the heavier fruits they produce.

Graevines should generally be irrigated when the available soil moisture is at 80% of the field capacity.

Guava plants, generally grown under rainfed conditions hardly require very little irrigation. Papaya is susceptible to water logging and hence the area where it is grown should have a proper drainage system, especially in heavy soils, having high rainfall.

Although pineapple is grown mostly under rainfed conditions, supplementary irrigation can help in production of good sized fruits in areas having optimum rainfall.

Harvest
Some early varieties of bananas flower about 7 months after planting. The fruits then take about 3 months to ripen.

Cashew fruits usually ripen from March to May. Grapes are ready to be picked when the berries near the tip change colour and become sweet.

Guava fruits should be plucked as soon as they ripen. Litchi bunches are plucked from the tree by hand. Papaya flowers in about 4 months time, after planting and is ready to be harvested in another 6 months. They should be picked while they are still green and hard, but there's a slight change in the colour of the rind.

Pineapples are harvested when they are just about yellow and the eyes become full and the bracts wither.

It is cut clean, retaining only about 5 cm of the stalk. They are transported after packing them in bamboo baskets or crates in a layer or two.

Medicinal Plants

Many of the drugs, these days are made from plants. An extract from the chemical compound in a medicinal plant and its subsequent modification could be used as a pharmaceutical product. Countries like India, which have a rich knowledge base regarding medicinal plants and health care have attracted the interests of many pharmaceutical companies. This knowledge has been used for a lot of research and development programs in the hope of discovering and producing new drugs. Over 9500 species of plants have been identified as having medicinal value, by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. So its very important that not only, these species are protected but also their cultivation developed in order to meet the entire demand of the domestic industries and for export purposes.

We should start the cultivation of medicinal & aromatic plants, to ensure purity, authenticity and sustainable supply of raw materials required for herbal drugs, including polyherbals. Over US $

Every year 3000 million is earned in foreign exchange from this category.

State Agricultural Universities have developed several agro-techniques for large number of medicinal plants. Unorganized marketing arrangements have lead to this industry, not being exploited its fullest potential. A Medicinal Plants Board has been constituted in the Department of Indian Systems of Medicines & Homeopathy to address all these issues.

Aonla a deciduous tree, ashoka an evergreen tree are found in the Centre and Eastern Himalayas & khasi, Garo & Lushai hills. Aswahagandha, Atis, Cinchona, Guggal, Ipecac, Isabgol, Jangali Haldi, Jatamansi, Kalmegh, Kokum, Lemon Grass, Long Pepper, Madhunasini, Opium Poppy, Rauwolfia and Senna are a few other plants, which have medicinal characteristics.

Goverement Finance Schemes

1. Scheme for Financing Kitchen Gardening
Purpose:
Loan is given for initial expenditure on fencing, purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilizers, plant protection chemicals, Land development, Small gardening equipments.

Eligibility:

Applicant be employed in a Government/Semi-Government unit or in a Co-operative/Private Sector Organization of repute. However, he/she should not be working as an ad-hoc employee; Professional and self-employed person having previous dealings with the financing branch; Pensioner of Central/State Government or other Government Undertakings and should be having pension account with financing branch; Wives of employees of Government/Semi Government bodies and other organizations as aforesaid are also eligible provided loan for the purpose has not been raised by their husbands; Staff members are also eligible provided they have sufficient space to undertake such activities; Applicant must have vacant land in/around residential house with right to use such land; He/she should have a deposit account with bank for at least six months; The applicant should have adequate income for repayment of loan.

Nature & Extent of Loan:

Short term loan upto Rs. 5000/-.
 
Repayment of Loan:

One year.

2. Scheme for Financing Forestry Development Programmes
Purpose:
Term Loan shall be provided for the development of nurseries, Plantation and raising forestry trees upto harvesting , Loan for inter-cropping is also considered depending upon the crops to be grown.

Eligibility:
Farmers, Companies, State Undertakings having ownership/ lease-hold/ perpetual tenancy rights over land in their name shall be eligible for availing loan under the scheme.

Extent  of Loan:

Need based.

Repayment of Loan:

(i) Forest Plantation: Loan for scheme where trees are grown should be repaid within a maximum period of 15 years inclusive of grace period.
(ii) Nursery: Since nursery starts yielding income within short period, repayment of entire term loan shall be fixed within 5 years.

3. Scheme for Financing Development of Wasteland(Including Tree Patta Scheme)
Purpose:
Loan is given for Reclamation of soil ,Soil conservation measures ,Conditioning of land by raising seasonal crops in reclaimed area for initial one/two years, raising of forest tree/pastures in existing wasteland or reclaimed land, creating irrigation potential in wasteland, Schematic afforestation of wasteland, Tree Patta holders under Tree Patta Scheme.

Eligibility:

Farmers having land holdings ,Panchayats/other bodies having such community land.

Extent of Loan:
Need-based loan