(9) Cucurbitaceous Crops in Asia

in HortScience
Authors: Prem Nath1 and Sundari Velu2
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  • 1 1Dr. P.N. Agricultural Science Foundation (PNASF), Chairman, #9, 1st Cross, 1st Main, 1st Block, Rajmahal Vilas Extension, 2nd Stage, Bangalore, Karnataka, 560094, India
  • | 2 2Dr. P.N. Agricultural Science Foundation (PNASF), Technical Advisor, Irvine, CA, 92620-2717

Among the vegetables, the cucurbitaceous crops form one of the largest groups with their wide adaptation from arid climates to the humid tropics. In Asia, about 23 edible major and minor cucurbits are grown and consumed. Though the data on cucurbits alone are not easily available, the production of watermelon was reported to be 69.7 million tons in Asia, 9.0 million tons in the Near East, 2.7 million tons in North and Central America, and 2.4 million tons in Latin America and the Caribbean (2003). Cucurbits demonstrate wide adaptability, which allows the crops to grow in varied agroclimatic conditions. Among food crops, cucurbits are the largest producers of biological water and are easily digestible. The cucurbits contain 80% to 95% water and also contain nutritive elements, such as carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, lycopene, phosphorus, potassium, and other properties, in addition to medicinal values. They are common crops in rural, urban, and peri-urban areas, and are accessible to both rich and poor. Even with the gradual increase in production and consumption, the production of cucurbits is plagued by the occurrence of diseases and insect pests, inadequate availability of quality seeds, lack of maintenance of genetic varieties and of naturally occurring biodiversities, and the lack of knowledge on the international standard of quality production and postharvest handling. The thrust areas of development, as identified, are: harnessing new sciences; diversification in cropping patterns; utilization of available genetic diversities; reversal of postharvest losses; and value addition in food products. Cucurbits hold promise as supplementary food for the common masses.

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