Plantation crops constitute a large group of crops. The major plantation crops include coconut, arecanut, oil palm, cashew, tea, coffee and rubber; the minor plantation crops include cocoa. Their total coverage is comparatively less and they are mostly confined to small holdings. However, they play an important role in view of their export potential as well as domestic requirements and in employment generation and poverty alleviation programmes particularly in rural sector.
India is also the largest producer and consumer of cashew nuts. It is estimated that total production of cashew is around 0.57 million tonnes from an area of 0.24 million hectares. The cultivation of vanilla in India started in 1990s and was confined mostly to Karnataka and Kerala and to a lesser extent in Tamil Nadu, Northeast region, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. India's production of vanilla was about 101 Metric Tonnes from about 27,811 hectare in 2004-05. Coconut is grown in an area of 1.93 million ha. with a production of 12,148 million nuts and productivity of 6285 nuts per ha. India is the third largest producer of coconut and leads 90 coconut-producing countries of the world. It occupies number one position in arecanut production. India has been considered as a treasure house of valuable medicinal and aromatic plant species. The Government of India have identified and documented over 9,500 plant species considering their importance in the pharmaceutical industry. Out of these, about 65 plants have large and consistent demand in world trade. As a result, horticulture is not only an integral part of food and nutritional security, but also an essential ingredient of economic security.
Botanical Description of Arecanut