In a bid to develop India’s horticulture sector and help states identify suitable areas and crop types, the agriculture ministry is working on a project which uses satellites and remote sensing technology.
Known as CHAMAN, or Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoinformatics, the project is being implemented by the Delhi-based Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre and is likely to be completed by March.
The project will help states develop horticulture clusters and related infrastructure like cold chains.
In 2016-17, production of horticulture crops like fruits, vegetables and spices touched a record high of 300 million tonnes, outstripping production of foodgrains for the fifth year in a row. Currently, India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, and a top producer of crops like banana, mango and lemons.
CHAMAN project will help in accurate forecasting of area and production of seven major crops in about 185 districts across India. These crops are the banana, mango, citrus, potato, onion, tomato and chilli.
Under the project, the ministry will use remote sensing and geoinformatics data to integrate information on weather, soil, land-use, and crop mapping to prepare horticulture development plans, the ministry said in a statement.
State governments can make choices by using the study reports and select the crops and develop related post-harvest infrastructure, the statement added. The ministry said interim reports prepared under the CHAMAN project will be handed over to the north-eastern states by January next year.
Driven by consumer demand, farmers across India have rapidly adopted horticulture crops which ensure a quicker cash flow and can be grown in very small plots. However, major crops like tomatoes, onion and potatoes see frequent price risks, which force farmers to either sell at a loss or dump their produce for lack of buyers.