Underutilized and Underexploited Horticultural Crops, Vol. 5. K.V. Peter (ed.). 2010. New India Publishing Agency, Pitam Pura, New Delhi, India. 473 p. Hardcover. $130.00. ISBN: 978-93-80235-28-8.
Dr. Prem Nath, formerly Assistant Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, succinctly provides the rationale for this book in the foreword. He states that, globally, there is concern for diminishing nutritional security and that land under agriculture is dwindling, water for irrigation is becoming scarce and costly, and availability of labor is getting smaller. Hence, the need for new crops and alternate sources of nutrition is getting attention. Dr. Nath notes further that under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an all-inclusive Future Crops International has been established to study underexploited and underutilized crops. In this group of plants, horticultural crops, especially vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, medicinal plants, and aromatic plants, are unique. Dr. Nath states also that many plants are wild weeds in one part of the world but are edible and consumed in another part. The foreward notes also that a few underutilized plants are used for phytosanitation and phytoremediation and that some are getting attention as raw materials for biofuel production.
The newest volume in this series follows a pattern similar to that of previous books. There are five chapters in the Vegetables and Tubers section, eight chapters in the Fruits section, two chapters in the Ornamental Plants section, and three chapters in the Medicinal Plants section. Chapters vary considerably in length from just over three pages for Chapter 1 on Scotch Bonnet peppers to 86 pages on Minor Greens and Salads.
Some chapters are well-illustrated whereas others lack figures. The illustration of exotic species is especially useful for readers unfamiliar with that crop. A list of references follows the text in most, but not all chapters. Some authors merely list the reference whereas others cite them at the appropriate place in the text.
Readers interested in performance of various horticultural crops in the vast Indian subcontinent will find useful information in this and previous volumes.