Jharkhand with its diverse agro-climatic conditions is much suited for the development of Horticulture based economy with ample scope of growth. The state of Jharkhand may be divided into six horticultural sub zones as far as the ecological specialties and suitability of different horticultural crops to them is concerned. The wide product base, high volume of round the year production, strategic geographical location, abundant sunlight and high domestic demand automatically project horticulture as the thrust area of development. The horticultural produce including off-season vegetables from the state are being preferred in the neighboring states for their quality and time of availability. In view of the dismal productivity of food crops and the geographical situation of the state, horticulture, is no more an option but has become a compulsion in the state.
Fruit crops were grown in an area of 84.55 (ha ‘000) in the State with a production of approx. 845.11(MT ‘000)for the year 2011-12. Major fruits grown in the State are Mango, Guava, Litchi, Lemon Banana, Papaya and Jackfruit. The productivity of fruits in the State is around 10.1 MT/ha. Mango is grown all over the State, the major growing areas being Ranchi, Gumla, Lohardaga, Hazaribagh and Giridih. Lithchi is grown in Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Jamtara and Ranchi. Jackfruit is also one of the important fruit crops in the area and grown massively in West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Chatra, Simdega. Jackfruit is in high requirement in the neighbouring states of Bihar, West Bengal, Chattisgarh and also to Delhi and is traded extensively from Jharkhand. Jharkhand is deficient in fruit production with more than two-thirds of its consumption requirements being met by other states, thus making it a net importer of fruits. Recent initiatives of the State Government & especially the National Horticulture Mission is indicative of strong focus and thrust to promote fruit cultivation and enhance the acreage under fruit in the State. Fruits like Litchi, Custard Apple, Lemon, Mango& Guava are being promoted for commercial cultivation. There is a great possibility of establishing fruit processing units based on the fruits produced in the State. A few of the possible interventions in food processing could be in the following items: Aonla, Mango, Guava, Litchi, Jackfruit and Custard Apple.
Jharkhand has emerged as new cashew nut growing pocket .Wild varieties of Cashewnut are produced in different pockets of the State which have been brought under the Area Expansion Program of National Horticulture Mission. It has been implemented systematically in districts of East Singhbhum and Pakur-SanthalPargana. The crop has emerged as one of the important crop in the State with increasing acreage and hence emerging scope of processing. Districts like Saraikela, East Singhbhum and West Singhbhum have the major chunk of the Cashewnut Plantation. The area under cultivation of Cashewnut has increased to 10,155 hectares in 2011-12 and the production has grown 470 MT.
Vegetables were grown in an area of 287.532 (ha ‘000) with production of 4257.068 (MT ‘000) in the year 2011-12. Major vegetables grown are Potato, Onion, Brinjal, Tomato, Cole Crops, Pea, Okra, Chilly and Cucurbits. The productivity of vegetables in the state is 14.8MT per ha. North Eastern Plateau region has maximum production as well as highest productivity of vegetables. The region also has the advantage of being an important sourcing hub for consumption markets like Patna, Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal. Ranchi has the largest production of vegetables in Western Plateau Region and has round the year cultivation of vegetables like Cauliflower, French bean and Brinjal. The region as whole ranks 2nd in terms of total production of Vegetables in the State. South Eastern Region, being relatively smaller and fraught with soils with high iron content, overall does not record a high production. However, there are areas like Patamda and Chandil which are highly suitable for vegetable cultivation and contribute significantly to the region’s total vegetable production. Most of the Vegetables grown in the State have good acceptability in fresh retail markets. Tomato and Potato are produced in abundance in the State which often causes glut situation leading to distress sale and high wastage as the surplus produce cannot be converted in to value added products. Because of the geographical diversity, Potato is available with an almost year round supply. Thus, all the factors combine to give the State an envious potential in providing the necessary requirements for setting up of vegetable processing units. The unique location also provides a ready and serviceable market for the processed items.
Spices are grown over an area of 2.949 (ha ‘000) with production of 64.166 (MT ‘000) with the productivity of 21.75 MT per ha.in the year of 2011-12. They are produced mainly in Hazaribagh, Dumka, Pakur and Ranchi with Ginger, Garlic and Coriander being the prominent crops. Spices are another focus area of the National Horticulture Mission, as Jharkhand spices are known for their high quality and thus have strong market demand. Most of the spices produced are locally consumed.
Floriculture has not yet developed with very small area under floriculture in Jharkhand. The total production of loose flowers and cut flowers (in numbers) in the State is estimated to be 22,000 tons and 17.11 lakh respectively. Flower cultivation is largely confined to Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Dumka and Deogarh.