[ horticulture department ]

Horticulture is one of the major economic activities of the people of Sikkim. Large Cardamom, ginger and turmeric are the principal crops while Mandarin orange, guava, mango, banana and so on are the principal fruits grown in the state. The department of Horticulture is deeply involved in motivating and providing technical guidance to local farmers. Sikkim is also a paradise for flowers. Gladioli, anthuriums, lilliums, primulas, rhododendrons, orchids as well as many other floral species thrive here. The state is home to an amazing 450 species of exotic orchids alone. There is immence potential for developing floriculture on a commercial basis here, and the department of Horticulture is making concerted efforts to turn this sector into an export-oriented industry. Agriculture is vital to the progress of Sikkim, because more than 64 per cent of population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. It has been the backbone of our economy, representing about a third of State's Gross Domestic Product.

The government has decided to adopt the policy of growth with sustainability, making Horticulture a priority sector for higher income generation to farming community as well as to concentrate more on securing maximum crop production of agricultural crops and managing primary agro-resources like soil, water and bio-diversity.

Sikkim is a hilly State in the Eastern Himalayas where agricultural practices and adaptations are highly variable in time and space due to varying altitudes and agro-climatic situations. The surveyed arable land in Sikkim is estimated to be around 1,09,000 hectares, i.e., 15.36 % of the total geographical area, and of which, about 9.50 % is the net sown area.

Integrated farming, an ideally suited system, is commonly followed by farmers in the State, and which fits well in the developmental process of making Sikkim an Organic State.

Cash and commercial crops like large cardamom, ginger, orange, seed potato, flowers and off-season vegetables along with other horticultural crops are dealt by the Horticulture Department (now renamed as Horticulture & Cash Crops Development Department) since its creation in 1996, whereas the Agriculture Department (now renamed as Food Security & Agriculture Development Department) looks after cereals like rice, wheat, maize, finger-millet, barley and buckwheat, pulses like urd, ricebean, rajmash, fieldpea, cowpea and cluster-bean, oilseeds like rapeseed, mustard, soybean and safflower, and agricultural miscellaneous crops.

The strategy opted for agriculture and horticulture development in Sikkim is to enhance productivity and to sustain the major production systems through proper management of resources. The effort is to establish ecologically sustainable, economically profitable and resource efficient cropping systems along with generation of employment to achieve a positive looking transformation. The concern envisages to integrate participation of women in agriculture development and to incorporate components of research, production, post harvest management, processing, value addition and marketing in a holistic manner.

Besides the Government support, Food Security & Agriculture Development Department and Horticulture & Cash Crops Development Department now look forward to institutional and private sector support as well as to mass participation with true human spirit in the growth process of agriculture and horticulture in Sikkim.