FRUIT FARMING IN INDIA
India has the ideal climatic conditions to grow a large variety of fruits. Fruits are extremely nutritious and are packed with energy, minerals and vitamins, etc. Each individual eats at least one fruit a day and hence the extreme demand for it. Population is ever rising and the demand for produce also goes up accordingly. India has diverse agro-climatic regions that produce fruit profitably throughout the year. Different regions produce different variety of fruits as per the season.
Some of the popular variety of fruits grown in India is mango, banana, mosambi, orange, papaya, guava, pineapple, apple, custard apple, sapota, pomegranate, litchi, water melon, musk melon, pear, grapes, a variety of nuts, figs, etc. The major fruit producing states in India are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
Banana is an extremely popular fruit in India and comes in various varieties such as Dwarf Cavendish, Robusta, Amritpant, Karpoora Poovan, Honda, Rasabale, Nendran, Lal Velchi, Orissa & Monthan, Red banana, Rasthali, etc. Banana is grown widely in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Citrus fruits such as orange, Pineapple, lemon, mosambi are grown in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, etc. Grape varieties that are popularly grown are Thomson seedless, Bangalore Blue, Pusa seedless, Arkavati etc. They are grown in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Rajasthan.
Mango is another favorite fruit grown extensively in India in almost all the states. It comes in delicious varieties such as Banganapalli, Neelam, Totapuri, Alphonso, Badami, Malgoba, Suvarnarekha, Bombay Green, Kesar, Rajapuri, Chausa, Langra, Himsagar etc. Fruits such as pomegranate and papaya can be grown almost everywhere and come in interesting varieties too. Sapota is popularly grown in the southern states.
India produces all sorts of deciduous fruits including pome fruits such as apple and pear as well as stone fruits such as peach, plum, apricot and cherry. These are mainly grown in the North-Western states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Out of all the deciduous fruits, apple is the most important in terms of production and extent. The apple cultivar ‘Ambri’, is considered to be indigenous to Kashmir.
The European and Japanese plum varieties are grown both in high and low hill areas in India. A plum variety ‘Santa Rosa’ dominates about 80% plantations in the hills. Low chilling cultivars of peach and nectarine such as Flordasum, Flordared, and Sunred nectarine are successful introductions to the North-Indian plains. Some local selections of peach, plum and sand pear are also cultivated on a commercial scale in sub-tropical areas of north India. Fruits such as apple, pear, plum, peach, apricot, sweet cherry, and sour cherry are successfully grown on a commercial scale.
Popular apple varieties are Red Spur, Royal Delicious, Red Delicious, Richared, Top Red, Irish Peach, Lal Ambri etc grown in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Himachal Pradesh leads in the apple production in the country. Pear cultivars such as Max Red Bartlett, Red Bartlett, etc are grown in Himachal Pradesh predominantly. Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry are grown in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir etc.
Some fruits are propagated by seeds, others by seedling stocks, or rootstocks. There are many government and private nurseries engaged in multiplication of planting material of deciduous fruit crops. In addition, State Agricultural Universities and Research Institutions multiply planting material of improved cultivars for sale and distribution to the farming communities. Fruit farming is extremely beneficial to farmers for their own consumption as well as for earning income from it. Some fruits are grown in orchards, some in vineyards and so on. These must be diligently maintained by farmers and harvested at the right time. Fruits are perishable items and hence post harvest preservation is extremely important.
There must be transport facilities near these farms, orchards, or vineyards to easily carry the produce to the nearby cities and sell to retailers. Orchards need fertile sandy loam or clay soils with a pH range of 5.5 – 7.5 and must be free from water logging. Flat lands require square, rectangular or triangular planting methods. Hill slopes adopt terrace farming. Deciduous fruits are planted from December to mid March. Spacing for planting seedlings depends on the type and variety of fruit cultivated. Trees will require more spacing than other vines or plants.
Whichever type of planting method is adopted, all the plantations will require the necessary amount of nutrients such as N, P and K in the required and pre-specified doses. Orchards require training and pruning of plants regularly to get better yields. Different methods are adopted based on the type of fruit. Methods such as central leader system, spur pruning, spindle bush, dwarf pyramids, and cordon systems are adopted based on each fruits requirement. Just like any other farming methods for crops, fruit crops also require regular mulching and weeding to prevent growth of weeds and pests and to keep diseases at bay. Fruits will attract more pests such as insects, birds, worms and so on due to their sweet fragrance. Hence maintaining fruit farms is more cumbersome.
Plants can be intercropped just as vegetable farming to discourage pests and to better utilize resources. Fruits require harvesting at the right time, maturity stage and sold to nearby markets. Marketing of fruits is done from farmers to agents, retailers, wholesalers or consumers. In most cases farmers are unable to market the produce and hence they sell it to through the easiest possible agent or retailer. Sometimes farmers directly hold farmers markets and sell to nearby villages, cities and towns annually. They also create co-operative societies to sell their produce collectively and thereby maximizing profits.