In-Depth Jobs

Volume-17, 28 July- 3 August, 2018

Career in Horticulture for Greener Future

Usha Albuquerque &
Nidhi Prasad

*Are you someone who is fond of gardening and dream of having your own garden with all exotic plants, flowers, vines and trees?
*How often have you thought about the fact that there is not enough green cover in our city?
*Do you think you can spend hours tending to plants so that they bloom just right?
*Have you ever brought home a dying plant to revive it and watch it blossom over the months?
If you are a person who appreciates the role plants play in your life, then a career in horticulture might be just what you would like. Nowadays, horticulture is considered as one of the most rapidly growing sectors in agriculture and is a focus area to stimulate agricultural growth, due to the fast-changing food habits of the domestic population towards more nutritious food and increasing overseas demand.
Horticulture is an intensive subset of agriculture that deals with flowers, landscape plants, vegetables, and fruits. Horticulture is socially important because it improves how we use plants, for food and other human purposes, as well as repairing the environ-ment and personal aesthetics.
India, with its diverse soil and climate comprising several agro-ecological regions, provides the opportunity to grow a variety of horticulture crops. These crops form a significant part of total agricultural produce in the country comprised of fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, flowers, ornamental plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices, condiments, plantation crops, and mushrooms. Horticultural crops play a unique role in India's economy by improving the income of the rural people. High-tech green houses, in-house research and off-season cultivation have ushered in trends of rapid developments in this sector, making India among the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world.
What is Horticulture?
The term can be broken down into two Latin words: hortus (meaning "garden") and cultus (which means "tilling"). Horticulture is the science and art of growing plants (fruits, vegetables, flowers etc.). It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, soil management, landscape and garden design, construction, and maintenance, and arboriculture. Horticulturists apply their skills, knowledge and technology to intensively produce plants for personal or social needs. The work of a horticulturist includes propagation of plants and cultivation. Their main aim is to improve plant growth, yield, nutritional value, quality and resistance to insects and diseases. Horticulturists work as gardeners, growers, therapists, designers and technical advisors in sectors of horticulture.
There are broadly two main areas of activity in horticulture:
Commercial Horticulture involves growing fruits and vegetables in orchards and plantations for sale both as raw commodities and for processing purposes. Horticulturists also create exotic and high quality plants by interbreeding, which are then multiplied on a mass scale for commercial purposes.
Amenity Horticulture involves making and maintaining gardens as pleasant environs.
Horticulture has five distinct disciplines:
*Floriculture - Floriculture pertains to producing and marketing flowers
*Landscape horticulture- Landscape horticulture is about producing, marketing, and maintaining plants for decorating landscaped areas.
*Olericulture- Olericulture is about the cultivation of vegetables,
*Pomology -  deals with fruit production.
*Post-harvest physiology- Finally, it is the post-harvest physiologists that grocery stores hire to prevent produce from spoiling prematurely. They too are horticulturists.
The work in this career broadly involves -
Production which includes the growing and harvesting of raw fruits, vegetables and flowers carried out mainly by farmers. However, with many large multi-national companies and retail houses  making forays into the farming sector, there are now  more scientific and managerial inputs in the cultivation and  marketing of fruits, flowers and vegetables.
Processing is another aspect of the work which covers all aspects of handling flowers, fruits and vegetables for distribution whether in natural form or as processed foods. New and scientific methods of plant breeding and processing  have made it possible not only to extend the shelf life of these perishables, but also to process them in packaged form, or as canned fruits,  preserves, juices, jams and so on. Today's cold chain for fruits and vegetables makes it possible to transport these perishables to markets all over the world, as fresh as the day they were harvested.
Amenity horticulture involves all aspects of cultivation of flowers, flowering plants, shrubs, and ornamental trees for decorative purposes in gardens. Development and maintenance of town and country parks, picnic areas, golf courses , as also landscaping of gardens, lawns, hot-houses and nurseries are other areas handled by horticulturists in amenity horticulture.
Research is another area of work for a horticulturist, to improve and breed new varieties of fruits and vegetables or flowers, by the application of  scientific techniques such as tissue culture, micropropagation,  and embryo culture etc. This would generally be undertaken in Government funded research institutions , although there are research and development laboratories being set up by private sector companies in the business of processing or marketing horticultural foods and plants.
Other areas of work include management and marketing with agri-business organisations.
Gone are the days when you could easily work in this sector without a professional qualification. If you want to reach professional heights, you need to have studied the field and acquired as much knowledge as possible.
One needs to clear Class XII in Science Stream with PCB/PCM and pursue B.Sc. Horticulture (Hons.) or B.Sc  Agriculture for 3 years followed by an M.Sc. Horticulture (Hons.) for 2 years and Ph.D if required.
Horticulture courses include subject areas of plant propagation, plant materials, tissue culture, crop production, post-harvest handling, plant breeding, pollination management, crop nutrition, entomology, plant pathology, economics, and agri- business.
The qualities required for a  Horticulturist are:
*Interest in nature, flora and fauna
*Love for plant life
*Keen observation
*Tremendous patience
*Concern for the environment
*Scientific bent of mind
*Endurance to work under difficult conditions
With a degree in this field, one can explore careers as -
*Horticultural therapist
*Researcher / Horticulture Scientist.
*Floriculturist (cultivating flowers)
*Olericulturist (cultivating vegetables)
*Landscape designer (designing & maintaining commercial or residential gardens and parks)
*Viticulturist (cultivating grapes)
*Pomologist (cultivating fruits) etc.
One can also get into the research field as a Horticulture Scientist and contribute to the development of new and better methods of cultivation. Horticulturists are also cultivating  special plants for medicinal purposes.
Horticulturist needs to:
*Develop innovative products and manage customers and suppliers.
*Manage trading system and assisting in operating structure, storage and transportation of perishable products.
*Ensure that the quality, health, safety and hygienic standards and principles of the products are fulfilled.
*Stay abreast with new developments in the horticulture field.
*Supervise pest, disease and weed control programmes, equally with health and hygienic principles
*Plan, manage and operate transplanting lines in green houses as products vary throughout the year
*Examine produce, costs and profits of horticultural operations
Due to the increasing popularity of this field, there are many job opportunities for graduate and postgraduate students of the discipline. Qualified horticulturists can enter various fields in industry, government or educational institutions or private concerns. There are many areas of work- including agribusiness, botanical gardens, conser-vation, crop management, floral design, food chemistry, fruit and vegetable production, garden centers, greenhouses, grounds management, land-scape construction and management, nurseries, management and sales, marketing/public relations, research and development, teaching/instruction, technical writing and publishing.
There are also job openings  in ancillary industries like packaging, transport, cold storage, food processing and manufacturing units.
Holiday resorts, health farms and farm houses have resident horticulturists, and many work on landscaping assignments with architectural firms. Those with horticulture skills can also become a consultant for offices and commercial organisations providing them with ornamental plants, potted plants, maintain lawns and gardens, and for the supply and decoration of fresh flowers.
They can also work in government horticulture departments, or at  institutions like the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, and the National Botanical Research Institute. There is always a need to improve the quality and yield of the seeds and therefore horticulturists work in conjunction with other professionals in developing such tools and products.
Another option for graduates is being self-employed, as consultants, or floral decorators, etc. There are various avenues for self employment - setting up one's own farm for growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants, or running nurseries. The National Horticulture Board  provides loans to companies for setting up horticulture/ floriculture units.
Work areas will be:
*Production and sales: Operating a business or managing cultivable land for catering plants and food processing
*Public Gardens: Managing landscapes and collecting plants is best for persons interested in both plants and people
*Marketing: Involves the sale of fresh or processed fruits and vegetables
*Teaching: Teaching in schools and colleges and to all people who are open to learn new ideas of horticulture
*Agricultural engineering: This deals with the conservation of soil and water and farm structures
*Landscape design, construction and management: Creating gardens and knowing the appropriate plants to use to achieve the desired aesthetic effect
*Pest management: Working with the regulatory agencies, agricultural suppliers, processing corporations, large farm organizations as agricultural specialists
Horticulturist can work in the following areas:
*Cashew, tea and coffee plantations,
*Contractors for plant maintenance
*Exporters of flowers and fruits
*Floral arrangement and cut flower business
*Fruit and flower plantations
*Government horticulture departments
*Landscaping firms
*Large and small nurseries
*Packaging, transport, cold storage, food processing and manufacturing industries
*Plant, seeds, fertilizer and garden implements sales
*Resorts, health farms, farm houses
List of Institutes
Some of the top institutes providing B.Sc in Horticulture are:
*Dr. Y S Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Himachal Pradesh-
*Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore-
*Anand Agricultural Univer-sity, Gujrat,
*Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
*Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth,
*IGNOU, Delhi- www.ignou.
*ICAR- Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture Uttar Pradesh- www.cish.
(Usha Albuquerque is Dire-ctor and Nidhi Prasad Senior Counseling Psychologist at Careers Smart, New Delhi) E-mail: careerssmartonline