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Hi-Tech Agriculture

Crops grown - Vegetables

Hybrid varieties in vegetable crops in India heralded a new era of vegetable production with the first release of tomato hybrid (Karnataka) and capsicum hybrid (Bharat) to the farmers’ way back in 1973 by a Bangalore based Seed Company. This has brought about a new awakening among them and consequently the vegetable seed industry, especially the private sector, has attained higher technological capabilities. Similarly, from the late Eighties imported cabbage varieties are grown in Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Hybrid varieties are not uniformly economical in all the vegetable crops to the same degree as in tomato. In cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, okra & chilies, they are very remunerative. But in low value crops like brinjal, gourds, melons and cucumber they are only moderately economical. With regard to the current status of adoption of hybrid technology among the eight vegetable crops listed tomato and cabbage top the list covering an area slightly above 30 per cent. There has been a steady increase in hybrid coverage in brinjal, okra and chilies. Amongst all these, imported hybrids are exclusively grown (more than 90 per cent) in cabbage. In recent years, indigenous chilli hybrids are slowly picking up, in preference to the imported ones. With respect to other crops like brinjal, gourds, melons, cucumber and okra, most of the hybrids grown are indigenous. . Tomato can give yield in green house around 500 MT per ha. Imported hybrids in okra were not successful in India, because they did not carry tolerance to yellow vein mosaic virus. Hybrids of okra, Varsha, Vijay and Vishal were the first (1988) virus tolerant hybrids in the country, developed by the same Bangalore based seed company. In the case of tomato, imported hybrids do not carry tolerance to native diseases like leaf curl virus, local races of bacterial wilt or other diseases. In fact, the Bangalore based seed company again was the first (1995) one to release tomato hybrids (#9501, 9502, 9801 and 9802) carrying high tolerance to the virus. In the case of indigenous hybrids of brinjal, gourds, melons and cucumber, more area can be covered if they carry additional attributes like disease/pest-resistance or any special quality attribute.

Looking back at the performance and adoption of vegetable hybrids during the past 25 years, there is no doubt that productivity has shown an upward trend, especially in tomato and cabbage. Hybrid technology is going to stay in this country and it forms an important component of national plans for increasing vegetable production. What is required now is cost effective technology to promote a wider spread, like multiple disease resistant hybrids. Resistance breeding should be integrated with hybrid technology to boost productivity. With self-sufficiency in foodgrain production, nutritional security has assumed greater importance. There is now the need to lay emphasis on the quality of vegetables and their value-added products. Quality refers to many aspects such as colour, size, nutrient content, shelf life and suitability for processing into value added products. Quality awareness among people is a recent development and technologies have to be developed for production of high quality vegetables. In most cases, new varieties have to be bred. Vegetables such as tomato and pepper. High quality of the green house crops fetches remunerative prices in the International market.