Horticulture Sector

Sikkim is a land blessed by nature with bountiful resources, manifested in rich biodiversity, perennial water sources, diverse soil profile, extremely varied climate and wide ranging topographical variations. The extreme climatic diversity of the region gives rise to wide ranging agro-ecological situations ranging from sub-tropical in the lower valleys to alpine in higher elevations. These diverse agro-ecological conditions coupled with certain inherent geographical strengths and limitations gives horticulture greater comparative advantage over agricultural activities.

More than 70% of population is dependent on agriculture and allied sectors. For the development of horticulture in North East in general and Sikkim in particular, the scheme launched by the Govt. of India- Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States has acted as the most important engine to drive its growth. The most important factor leading to this development is increased investments harmonized with technological interventions fully integrated with strategic planning and critical approaches.

Some of the developments tangible in the State are – phenomenal area increase under different horticultural crops, enhancement in production and productivity, multifarious activities related to post production and marketing and overall improvement in rural lifestyles. Off-season vegetables, floriculture and protected cultivation are the three areas which have recorded unprecedented growth adding a new dimension to horticulture development in the State.

Present Status of Horticulture (Subsector-wise analysis)

Fruits

The important fruits grown in the State include Sikkim mandarin, pear, guava and kiwi. Introduction of European/Asiatic cultivars of apple has played a key role in revival of apple cultivation in Lachung and Lachen Valleys where a major setback was encountered in the traditional apple cultivation practice. Similarly, technological intervention has played a crucial role in checking citrus decline leading to increased production of Sikkim mandarin. The highlight in fruit development strategy is the production of quality planting materials through two high-tech facilities and nurseries under private and public sector. Plantation of guava and litchi in the lower valleys with banana and papaya as filler crops has worked successfully as a crop diversification strategy.

Sikkim Organic Mission Production of  Fruits

Vegetables

The State has many success stories in off-season vegetables. Widespread cultivation of tomato in open in the rain shadow areas of South and West Sikkim has become an established practice. More than 10 clusters, each cluster comprising more than 10 villages
cultivate tomato. Each farmer grows on an average between 3000 to 10000 plants with the average income of each household from tomato cultivation ranging between Rs 20000/- to 30000/- per annum.

Chief Minister, Shri Pawan Chamling at the Kisan Mela in 2009

Summer vegetable cultivation which was earlier confined to kitchen gardens as backyard activity has now developed into a commercial venture.

A highly innovative initiative to boost vegetable cultivation is the concept of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on selected few vegetables supported by 50% transport subsidy launched in 2008-09 under state plan.

Sikkim Organic Mission Production of  Vegetables

Spices

Re-plantation efforts to mitigate the decline in yield are some of the ongoing program of the department. New areas are being covered using tissue culture plants and seedlings. Ginger is a cash crop for small and marginal farmers and hence draws particular attention.
An integrated ginger processing unit has been operationalised which is expected to be a major turning point to take ginger cultivation to further heights.

Other spice crops of importance are turmeric and cherry pepper for the development of which, the department has lined up effective programmes.

Sikkim Organic Mission Production of  Turmeric

Flowers

Floriculture is one area which has recorded unprecedented growth in terms of area and production. Introduction of different kinds of flowers non-existent earlier and development of flower specific clusters are the important achievements in this sub-sector.

Floriculture has played a key role in improving the economy of many farmers. Floriculture has added glamour to horticulture and has enhanced the image of this profession which is believed to be a profession of toil, drudgery and hardship. Area identification and selection are most critical to cluster development which is done through an intensive process of survey, discussion at various levels, cross-examination, data collection & analysis and resource mapping exercises.

Sikkim Organic Mission Production of  Flowers

Perhaps the first of its kind, two joint venture units, one on cymbidium orchids and another on anthurium have been set up by dovetailing resources from APEDA, State Plan and Technology Mission to take floriculture to the level of export.

International Flower Festival, held at Saramsa, Ranipool in 2008

Protected Cultivation

This has evolved as one of the flagship programmes of the Department. This concept has brought about a major breakthrough in vegetable cultivation and floriculture. The concept of low cost prototype greenhouse designed to fit in hilly landscape has become very popular. So far, 10,360 numbers of low cost polyhouses and 850 nos. of tubular structures have been constructed.

Mushroom

An integrated mushroom unit has been set up in the State to promote mushroom cultivation. The activities lined up include mushroom cultivation for demonstration, production of compost (casing) and spawn for subsidized sale to growers for oyster, button and shitake mushroom.

Bee Keeping

Bee keeping has developed into a popular diversification in Sikkim. Interventions in the form of modern & scientific technology and inputs like bee boxes, bee colonies and equipments have brought about great transformation to the traditional bee keeping practices.
Till now, 8000 bee boxes have been distributed covering 4000 households all over the State.

Water Management

Water is a major issue in the State. There is acute shortage of water during rabi season. To mitigate water stress, 100 nos. of large community water tanks have been constructed. Flexible type of Genap tanks have been set up in many areas using imported
Israeli and Holland technology. Dug out sunken ponds and roof water harvesting structures have been constructed in different vegetable fields and fruit orchards.

Capacity Building

This is one of the most important aspects identified as key issue for overall development of horticulture. In this process large number of farmers have been trained both within the State, country and sent for exposure tours to foreign countries. Countries visited include Australia for training on apple production, Netherlands to attend HortiFair, Nuremberg, Germany to participate in Biofach and Thailand for bee keeping and fruit development training.

Infrastructure Development

To support production, processing and marketing, many important infrastructures have been developed by dovetailing resources from HMNEH, RKVY, State Plan and other sources.

Cymbidium Development Centre – For promoting cultivation of cymbidium orchid to a level of industry, a centre has been established with the objectives of varietal screening, technology validation, imparting training and skill development of farmers.

Cymbidium Development Centre, Rumtek

Model Floriculture Centre – In addition to strengthening the existing Model Floriculture Centre in East Sikkim, another one has been established to coordinate floriculture activities for South and West Sikkim.

Ginger Processing Unit – One ginger processing unit has been operationalised through RKVY funding. This has provided impetus to farmers of the region to enhance area and production under organic ginger crop, in view of assured marketibility and prospects of
export of the commodity.

Intergreted Ginger Processing Unit at Birdang, West Sikkim

Automated Greenhouse – Two numbers of automated greenhouses (1500 sq m each) have been constructed through RKVY funding for production of disease free, high quality planting materials of Sikkim mandarin.

Tissue Culture Laboratories – Four laboratories under private sector and two under public sector have been set up for production of cymbidium clones, large cardamom, banana and other ornamentals.

Integrated Pack House – One Integrated Pack House has been set up for collection, grading, treatment and storage of fresh cut flowers with support of APEDA.

Cold Storage Facilities – Four numbers of cold storage facilities in private sector have been established over and above two already existing. This would maintain the freshness and quality of the cut flowers for marketing outside the state and export.

Wholesale cum retail outlet – In view of the tremendous demand for Sikkim organic products a state of the art whole sale cum retail outlet has been established in New Delhi for boosting marketing.

Sikkim Organics outlet at New Delhi

Sikkim Organics outlet at New Delhi inaugurated by Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister in presence of Smt. Shiela Dixit and Shri Pawan Chamling and other dignitories.

Rose Demonstration Unit – An integrated rose demo unit covering 5000 sq mtrs area has been set up at the Rose Valley of Daramdin, West Sikkim to impart training and coordinate activities related to quality rose production and marketing.

Rose Cluster at Daramdin, West Sikkim

The following table throws more light on area, production and productivity of horticulture crops.

Table : Production and productivity for the whole state (Estimates for 2010-11)

Crop Area in (000 ha) Production (000 tonnes/lakh nos) Avg. yield in (Kg/ha)
Sikkim mandarin 8.320 14.390 3300
Other fruits 4.560 5.690 1247
Total fruits 12.880 20.080 3089
Vegetables 14.405 75.200 5220
Roots & Tubers including potato 10.110 49.160 4862
Large cardamom 15.020 3.510 233
Total spice (including ginger & turmeric) 24.380 52.370 2148
Total Flowers 0.200 230.000

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