Horticulture is a part of the basic agricultural sciences. It deals with the growing of fruit, flowers, vegetables, tuber crops, medicinal and aromatic plants, mushrooms, plantation crops, spices, etc., grown in diverse agro-climatic conditions of temperate, sub-tropical and arid zones. Flori culture is a subset of the mainstream of horticulture.
Horticulture development in the country continues to make steady progress in the production and export of agricultural products. India has emerged as one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world. India is the largest exporter of cashew nut, producing about 40% of the world’s production. India is the largest producer of ginger, turmeric and accounts for 65% and 76% respectively of the total world’s production. India has emerged as the largest producer of coconut in the world. India’s share in the world trade in spices is also around 18%.
Technology has given a commercial thrust to the once manual jobs of growing plants and flowers. Today these hobbies of nature gardening and tending to plant nurseries/orchards/plantations-can be embraced as careers complete in themselves. Professionals in these areas can take on the employment opportunities in research, teaching, commercial enterprises, or take up entrepreneurship, and even utilize their knowledge and expertise in private consultancies and the government.
Nature of Work
Commercial horticulturists grow crops such as vegetables on open land, and tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers in glass houses. Orchards and soft fruits are also part of horticultural production. Commercial horticulture also covers the growing of flowers, ornamental plants under glass and for the gardening market, nurseries, landscaping and allied activities.
Some horticulturists are also involved in teaching and research. Researchers work on pests and diseases and general research to produce better and healthier plants. Advisory work provides the link between the research worker and the grower to pass on the result of the experimental work.
A horticulturist’s work can keep him ensconced in a laboratory and research centre conducting and supervising research or in the classroom teaching a future generation of horticulturists. Those who are involved in commercial horticulture or in landscaping, need to spend much of their time in the outdoors or in the glasshouse as the case may be.
• Commercial horticulture
• Advisory and consultancy work
While there is a distinction in the nature of work in these specializations, there is also the overlap between the functional roles since all specialists work towards increasing productivity, yield, marketing and making further inroads in emerging markets and high-value products.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
To become a horticulturist would require a scientific bent of mind with keen interest in continuous upgrading of knowledge in the upcoming technologies and their applications. Love for nature and an abiding interest in replenishing natural resources while providing commercially viable products to the people combine to make these professions worthwhile in more than the commercial sense.
Floriculturists and horticulturists aver that having green fingers is not a crucial factor if you wish to make either horticulture or floriculture a career choice. More to the point is motivation, patience and dedication and the understanding that a floriculture or horticulture unit is not made up of nuts and bolts but of living plants. You are dealing with the science and practice of growing, harvesting, design, use and marketing of plants and plant produce so you must understand nature and how to nurture.
Business acumen is needed for commercial growing while artistic ability is important in the field of landscape gardening.
Today, horticulture has come into its own as a separate discipline of study as a 4-year BSc level course at an agricultural university. This programme is open to students who have successfully completed to Plus Two or equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry and Biology/Mathematics. Those who have not studied Maths need to take extra credits during the BSc (Hort) course.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) conducts an all India entrance examination for admission to undergraduate programmes in Agriculture and allied subjects excluding Veterinary Science and awards of national talent scholarship.
The announcement comes in the month of January-February while the examination is usually conducted in May. This entrance examination is for filling up 15% of the total seats in State Agricultural Universities, Central Agricultural University Imphal (Manipur) and 100% of the seats NDRI, Karnal (Haryana).
Horticulture covers problems of breeding, production, storage, processing and transit of fruits, nuts, berries, vegetables, flowers, bushes and trees.
Horticulture might be offered as a subject of graduate study in the 3-year BSc course. Since horticulture is a component of agriculture, you could also study it in an agricultural science course at an agricultural university; or you could decide to take up the study of botony (study of plants and their environment) and then focus on floriculture or horticulture on the basis of your scientific knowledge of plants.
Flori culture tends to be a specialization at the Master’s degree level.
If you proceed for advanced studies at the Master’s or doctoral level, you would be able to concentrate on research to develop new or improved varieties giving a higher yield, quality, nutrition value, staying quality, etc.
Horticulture offers a variety of placement options, such as in commercial pursuits – in the growing of plants/flowers (floriculture) for sale or in the making and maintaining of gardens as pleasant environments. In commercial horticulture, graduates would be recruited for the management of glass houses, fruit farms and vegetables farms. Some may specialize in soft fruits, or bulb production, or in quality inspection, etc.,
Those specializing in floriculture would be supplying needs for fresh cut flowers or in the running of such businesses or be specializing in houseplants. Those who are in the business of providing horticultural supplies such as seeds and fertilizers, require graduates for sales and marketing functions, while postgraduates are more likely to be taken for research and development positions.
Government bodies recruit horticulturists to look after public gardens and farms, etc., also to act as advisers to commercial growers. There would be opportunities in technical and scientific work too.
Amenity horticulture aims to provide pleasant open air surroundings in the cities and its outskirts. These include parks, picnic areas, heritage sites, theme parks, botanical gardens, etc. This work tends to be based more on ornamental plants rather than crop plants. It also overlaps with the work of landscape designers.
Landscape and garden contractors also employ horticulturists and floriculturists. Landscape design which includes design and construction of new gardens and regular maintenance of existing gardens does overlap with a Master’s degree specialization in architecture but the horticulturist can be equally at ease in the major part of the work with the right personality attitudes and concepts.
Advancement in government service comes with years of service and experience on the job. In research institutions, projects and published works count towards credits and superior assignments.
Entrepreneurship in horticulture and floriculture are lucrative options for experienced professionals provided they have taken into consideration the demand for the product, the growing region, marketability of the produce in the optimum time limit, where to get the best price options, the most high-value produce in demand, etc. Explore exclusivity options and their commercial profitability. Aim for technical sophistication in cultivation, speed in transportation, the best infrastructure all-round, if this is to be your profession. Take time to plan out every aspect in detail.
Although it may be possible to get into horticulture and floriculture without professional training, the chances of a proper career are far better and more assured for those with formal training. Expertise and management skills are of increasing importance especially in entrepreneurship.
With the climate and natural resources, we can grow a whole range of flowers, vegetables and fruits on our homeland. Indian flowers can compete with the world’s best in the European flower markets. All that we require are quality equipment, highly motivated manpower that understands the needs of flowers as well as those of the global markets.