Sreekant S Mehta was honoured with an Honorary Fellowship for his outstanding contributions to the development of horticulture in the country by the Horticultural Society of India during the 7th Indian Horticultural Congress held to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the organisation. Mehta is the son of Late Surajmal Bhaichand Mehta and currently resides in Salem in Tamil Nadu.
Over the years, the Society has honoured outstanding individuals who have contributed to the growth of horticulture in the country through their R&D, and Mehta was one of the awardees this year. Speaking at the conference, Mehta elaborated on the benefits of Arboriculture, which involves all aspects of growing, production and maintenance of trees as well as enabling people and trees to co-exist in the same environment. He said that the focus of this field should shift from urban to rural areas, particularly the more than 50% of the country which is dry and barren, which could boost the all round economic development of the country and provide shelter, food, health, and wealth for many.
Sreekant Mehta has been managing the family plantations consisting of Coffee, Pepper, Orange, Pomello, Hill Bananas, Jack, Litchi, Avacado and other fruits since 1963. He set up “The Nursery”, now recognised by the Horticulture Dept. of States & Central Government as an approved source of fruits and other plants, specialising in obtaining new varieties, multiplying and quickly making them available to farmers.
Mehta is credited with having popularised commercial cultivation of Arid Zone fruits like Tamarind, Amla, Bael, Cordia, etc. over South India and has helped in the commercial development of these crops over an area spanning 45,000 acres. In the process, he helped create about 22,500 jobs in Tamilnadu. The Amla Growers of Tamilnadu, which he helped set up, has a turnover of Rs.500 crores over the last few years.
Currently, Mehta is the President of Aonla Growers Association of India and Fruit Growers Association of Tamilnadu as well as Secretary of Confederation of Indian Horticulture. He was a member of the team formulating the National Horticulture Mission and an Invitee of the Task Force on Micro Irrigation formed by the Govt. of India. He also was an Invitee to the Budget Discussion on Horticulture with the Minister of Finance, Govt. of India during the years 1996-2000. Mehta was a Member of Research Advisory Committee, Central Institute of Arid Horticulture, Bikaner for three years and is currently a member of Research Advisory Committee, Central Institute of Sub-Tropical Horticulture, Lucknow for six years.
He was the Director of National Horticulture Board upto 2010.
Mehta has received many honours, including being a recipient of the Rishi Chaman Award for Amla, the Nalla Valai Award for Banana, the Lt. Amit Singh Memorial Foundation Award and Best Pinery Award for three years in Coorg. He has also been honoured by the Arboriculture Association of India and IIHR.
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