Floriculture has been identified as a sunrise industry in India and accorded a 100% export oriented status. It has been found that commercial floriculture has higher potential per unit area than most of the field crops and is therefore a lucrative business. India is second only to China in terms of area under flower cultivation. But India’s share in world floriculture trade is only 0.61% in year 2014 and 0.89% in 2015 according to ASSOCHAM report. Researchers are relentlessly working on developing innovative solutions to overcome production and post-production challenges of floriculture in India. Meet an educator and researcher who stands out – Dr Alka Singh, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture at ACHF, Navsari Agricultural University (NAU), Navsari. She has recently received Honourable Mention at EET-CRS Academic Awards 2017 for her extensive research in the field of floriculture.
Dr Alka has been in love with flowers from her childhood days. This fascination for flowers made her choose floriculture discipline. She obtained her B.Sc. degree with Vice Chancellors Gold medal and M.Sc. degree as faculty topper in Horticulture from Navsari campus of Gujarat Agricultural University and Ph.D. in Horticulture from C.C.S. University, Meerut, UP.
She joined as Assistant Professor in the Department of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture at ACHF, Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari in the year 2006 and has been associated with the institution ever since. She was awarded with Indo-US Science & Tech. Research Fellowship by Indo-US Research Forum and DST which also got her the opportunity of post doctoral research at the University of California, Davis, USA during the year 2009-10. She is currently serving as the Associate Professor and Head of the department.
Being, the only girl child of my parents who strongly believed in gender equality and the strength and capacity of women in all aspects of life, I got the confidence that I can do and achieve anything that a man can. They gave me freedom to choose my subject and brought me up in such a way that I never knew about gender inequality but only of hard work and dedication in a subject.
Dr Alka Singh
Research Focus Areas of Dr Alka Singh
As flowers are perishable produce, there are huge postharvest losses (30-40%) and farmers often face the problem of price fluctuation in market and fail to get good value for their yield. Her research focuses on standardizing effective Postharvest technologies, value addition of flowers and potted ornamental plant production technologies.
The postharvest technology and storage technology developed by her would help flower growers in retaining freshness and quality of flowers for longer time and storing flowers during period of market glut that would ultimately reduce postharvest losses and farmers can get better economic returns overcoming the problem of price fluctuation. Her research in dry flowers has great scope for employment generation and entrepreneurship development at regional and national level.
Her production technology of potted ornamental plants has great scope for employment and increasing farmer income as house plants not only improve bio-aesthetic appeal but also improve indoor air quality. Besides, the ornamental pot plants integrated with proper architecture are in more demand with better market stability and thus have high income generation potential.
For a woman scientist to achieve her goal, she needs to work not at par with male counterparts but more than them. I did face a lot of challenges from male counterparts in the University but with smile I kept my focus on work and that made me slowly and steadily achieve my goals.
Dr Alka Singh
Dr Alka has also worked extensively in modernization of Laboratories and development of value addition lab of her department. She has also contributed a lot in college landscaping like creation of strolling garden, sand garden, renovation of roof top garden, pot plant display in college, etc. She has been actively contributing in developing course curriculum in ornamental horticulture for high school and diploma students. A firm believer in experiential learning, she has been making her modules more remunerative for students by devising methods to increase flower sale by value addition in cut flower through bouquets, flower bowls, flower arrangements etc. She is also the pioneer of Ornamental Plants Exhibition cum Sale in her college.
At times, it has been challenging to balance motherhood and my professional life considering my husband stays in a different city as he works as a professor in SVBP University at Meerut. It would not have been possible without his encouragement to pursue my passion in floriculture.
Dr Alka Singh
Her love towards flowers and her passion for floriculture is what keeps her going. She wants to further strengthen her research in floriculture and make it more applied so that farming becomes more and more remunerative and farmers income is not only doubled but tripled. She also aspires to empower women through floriculture. The technology and skills in floriculture should make them self reliant and financially independent.