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Indian Institute of Horticultural Research Celebrates 55th Foundation Day

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
55th foundation day ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru

Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) celebrated 55th Foundation Day on September 7 at the Auditorium, ICAR-IIHR at Hessaraghatta, Bangalore, Karnataka. This Foundation day is very special as the country celebrates 75 years of Independence and also when we are at a stage of growing 28 Million hectares of Horticulture Crops in India. 

The meeting was also joined by various dignitaries nationally and globally on Zoom. The Dignitaries present on the occasion were Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Authority, Government of India, Dr. A.K Singh, DDG (Hort Sci),New Delhi and Dr B.N.S. Murthy, Director, ICAR-IIHR. 

IIHR has been over 55 years serving the country in the field of Horticulture and its main research station is at Hessaraghatta, Bangalore with 263 ha of land and Regional experiment station at Bhubaneswar in Orissa with two Krishi Vigyan Kendras both located in Karnataka state at Gonikopal in Kodagu and Hirehalli in Tumkur districts. IIHR has released more than 170 varieties and hybrids and also development of good number of sustainable production, protection and post-harvest management technologies.

In fruit crops, the institute has released three varieties in papaya, 5 hybrids in mango, 3 varieties in guava, 5 hybrids in grapes, one variety each in pomegranate, annona, ber and passion fruit. Recently released high yielding Pink fleshed Arka Prabhat papaya hybrid, Arka Kiran, a red-fleshed hybrid guava and Arka Sahan, a hybrid of annona with large globules and less seeds hold better promise and are gaining more popularity. So far the Institute has developed and released 60 high yielding open-pollinated varieties and 15 F1 hybrids in 24 vegetable crops resistant to pests and diseases for commercial cultivation. 

The Foundation Day speech was inaugurated by Chief Guest Ashok Dalwai.  He enlightened the crowd by speaking on the Role of Horticulture in Indian Economy. He spoke about the Nutrition security, micro and macro nutrients on the occasion of the inauguration of the Foundation Day Celebrations. He spoke on how Horticulture has immense potential to give good health to our people and proper nutrition. 

In 2006, we had 18.7 million hectares to 28 million hectares now. The productivity and production is high at present in Horticulture if compared to growth rate. He suggested increasing 1% more to horticulture crops in each farmers land so that it can give 77 thousand per hectare. Processing in many levels at Horticulture can create more jobs. During each processing time, we are increasing the value of the food. Our food processing stands at 9 % products that many times. He also reiterates on the importance of eating fresh foods to have more nutrition. 

He reiterates the importance of putting into practice the work done towards till 55 years. Checking the wastage through good Agri logistics, lessening it would make great strides in Horticulture. More focus on Productivity, Shelf life is elongated so the consumers would eat them fresh, wastage is minimized, post harvest technology operations. Under Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Horticulture could be boosted up. 

The occasion was presided by Dr A. K Singh, DDG (Hort Sci), New Delhi. He emphasized on Value Addition, Advanced technology practices that will, place India in the Global Horticulture Scenario. Malnutrition has to be tackled through Horticulture crops and IIHR can focus more on it said Dr A.K. Singh. IOT in Grape cultivation is a huge success and we are exporting it into places where we once imported them and a special tomato Variety which got popularized in Mizoram by the Retired Director Dr Dinesh and his associates.

Mizoram imports Tomatoes from mainland but popularizing this variety which can tolerate the cold conditions of Mizoram will do good and it should take three years to popularize the variety. 

IIHR has much greater roles to dwell into and we hope they excel in all technology aspects of Horticulture in days to come. Horticulture becomes attractive to the young population and youngsters will go into Horticulture crops. Governments are giving push to schemes and packages so that they get financial assistance also for them to take up Horticulture Crops. 

Today carbon is in the air and not in the soil, so sequestering the carbon in the air would be great with perennial fruit trees. Given the water scarcity, need for high incomes and sustainable yields he emphasizes how the technology needs to be managed for Rainfed areas, with shallow soils and less of rains at present due to climate change. He also stresses on the need for Horticulture policies for India, Dryland Horticulture Policy for India. He also requests the Research Institute to come up with dry land traditional species and package of Practices, reorienting the policies and we would be able to take the progressive step in the country. Since our products are with small holding farmers, our aim should be to aggregate their produce supported by FPOs and thereafter integrating them with value chains said Dr Ashok Dalwai. 

The variety called Arka Veera in Cucumber was released at the function. It is an open pollinated variety,28 tons per hectare yield and harvesting after 47 days after sowing and shows  Resistance in Downy Mildew. Documentaries and Publications on some crops like Pineapple and Dragon fruit, Good Agricultural Practices for Commercially Important Flower crops, E book on Arka Flower varieties, E compendium on Advances in Agricultural technologies, Arka Mushroom millet cookies  were also released. Farmers, Entrepreneurs, Fellow Scientists, Skill Support Staff and Administrators in IIHR were also awarded on this special Day.  

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