There are several factors and constraints which are limiting the growth of the horticultural industry. Practitioners and researchers should consider these factors both on a long term and short term basis to improve yields and induce more farmers to grow fruits and vegetables. Some of these factors are:
How seeds affect the growth of horticulture
In the total cost of production, the cost of seed is of little account, except for potatoes, ginger and a few other crops. The chance of agricultural investments involves the quantity and quality of seed. Unfortunately, farmers do not pay enough attention to the processing, storage, and distribution of seed. Most of the vegetables and flower seeds in our country either come from poor quality or expired produce.
The most considerable downside is the failure to reproduce our varieties. It takes a lot of expense in importing seed from abroad. This situation is alarming for crops like potatoes that rely on foreign introductions.
We must overcome this issue of seed by developing a native technology of breeding, production, processing, and marketing of seeds. There is a need for enough research input to build up the seed business.
Role of Nurseries in the growth of Horticulture
Private sector nurseries supply most of the plants to the fruit growing industries and for ornamental purposes. There are no regulations to start a nursery business in Pakistan. Any business-minded person can go ahead with a commercial nursery. Most big cities have a large number of such industries.
For fruit trees, there is no system for the production and supply of rootstock seed. As a result, many orchards contain inferior quality plants. The life span of such plants is short and, yields are low. The poor gains consequently result in the uprooting of orchards or intercropping with other crops. This problem allows the grower to consider fruit trees as a bonus or side business only. The need of the hour is to approve laws to ensure the supply of quality plant material.
How Capital affects the growth of horticulture
The horticultural industry requires a large amount of investments. These investments can be in the form of land preparation, purchase of plant materials, fertilizers, implements, and management costs. High risks make farmers unwilling to proceed into horticultural business. In a small farming community like ours, growers are subsistence-oriented, and food for their families and fodder for their livestock is the first consideration.
Horticulture, on the other hand, is a profit-oriented industry. Grower should invest before he expects a profit. Small farmers in the rural areas can also benefit if the necessary investment is available to them in the form of credit, roads and marketing facilities, etc.
Role of Marketing system in the growth of horticulture
The marketing of horticultural produce has unique characters. Most fruits and vegetables are more likely to decay, with a short post-harvest life. So, the producer has to sell the harvest as early as possible. Seasonal variations in supply are common, with alternating shortage and surplus.
There is a need to develop the processing industry to consume the excess during surplus periods. We should encourage farmers to approach direct marketing if facilities like roads and other capital incentives are available.
Role Management problems
As with any business, management has an important responsibility to build profitable farming. One can make wise decisions by selecting the right kind of crops according to the soil and climate suitability. Similarly, the right time and method of sowing can make significant differences in the profitability of farming.
The biggest drawback is the lack of research-based information on technology available to the farmers. There is a need for new crops to expand the production base.
Role of Export production
Export of fruits and vegetables can bring much-needed foreign exchange. Growers get back the benefit of higher prices. For an export-oriented production of horticultural crops, we must design a long-term strategy for export production. To be an active part of the market, we will have to ensure a constant supply and quality of the produce.
We should encourage our farmers to specialize in the export production of specific high-quality products and varieties of fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers by offering them premium prices on a contract basis.
Role of Public awareness
Most of the people are not sufficiently aware of the importance of horticultural food and appreciative of its aesthetics. The human diet is incomplete without the essential vitamins and minerals which come from fruits and vegetables. The general public is not aware of the aspect of vitamin loss during the cooking of vegetables. Increasing awareness and concern about the environment plays an important role in human health.