Like other branches of agriculture, fruit culture is as’ old a profession as the civilization itself. Probably, in all the stages of history, fruits have been regarded as luxury as well as necessity and their intensive cultivation has always followed the path of advancing civilization. However, until the second quarter of the 20th century, the fruit farming was not a common business of a farmer. Economic depression after the World War I, and J, growing population compelled the agriculturists to plan their policies on new lines. Rapid urbanization and industrialization promoted the transition from pleasure gardening by the rich and the. Few and the subsistence production -by village people on small farms to commercial fruit and vegetable production, thus, the ancient horticulture of walled gardens became a modem enterprise with an important role to play in feeding the world’s growing population. The modem concept of horticulture foresees.
It is discussed under.
I. Dietary Role. A complete food must contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and roughages or fibers. Horticultural foods are an excellent source of all the essential components of the human diet. Approximately 30 percent of the food consumed in the world is produced in the horticulture sector. All fruits and vegetables have some quantity of digestible carbohydrates and other food components in varying proportions. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are especially high in starch containing 19 percent and 27 percent starch, respectively. These vegetables and fruits, Iike bananas, have the. potential to supplement our future energy requirements. On a per-acre basis, potatoes and bananas produce more calories than wheat. Potatoes are the fourth ranking to crop in the world and
increased potato cultivation could reduce the pressure on grain production.
Peaches, beans, and sweet corn are rich in protein. Avocados; olives, and most nuts contain a very high percentage of fat.’ Spices and beverages, add pleasure to eating. Most importantly, fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals which are lacking in the staple foods. The red pigment in red blood oranges is an anthocyanin while the red pigment insome grapefruit is carotene. Citrus, ber, guavas, tomatoes, and melons are rich in ascorbic acid. Onions, lettuce, oranges, bananas and avocados are rich in vitamin E. The protective effects of three antioxidant vitamins, beta carotene. ascorbic acid and vitamin E are well known. Low intake of these vitamins may lead to increased risk of heart diseases and cancer of the lungs, breast and prostate.
Minerals play an important role in ‘the development of the human body as constituent pails of tissue, and regulate metabolic activities as catalysts and co-factors. Important minerals provided by fruits and vegetables are Ca, Na, P, Co, Cu, Mg, Mn, Fe, and I. Fruit juices, seed pods, . leafy vegetables, apples, apricots, plums, dates, olives, and. peaches are rich in minerals. Finally, large amoun.ts of sugar, organic acids, enzymes and many pigments are important constituents of fruits.
In Pakistan, there is greater demand for fruits and vegetables than can be met by existing production. However, our supply of all horticultural products falls short of the amounts needed to meet minimum requirements. In the USA for example, 40 percent of the food weight consumed consists of horticultural products whereas the percentage of horticultural products consumed in Pakistan is negligible.
2. Economic Role. Analysis of farmers costs of production and returns shows that growers of fruits and vegetable regularly earn higher profits than that growers of agronomic crops. High investment in the various phases of production, handling processing and marketing of these crops involves a higher flow of capital. Thus cultivation of horticultural crops brings abouthigher flow of capital, and brings about accelerated economic activity in the agricultural sector. The expansion of the horticulture industry will create more infrastructure, more job opportunities and better returns to farmers. Export of horticultural produce will bring foreign exchange into the country. Fruit and ornamental trees planted today are an investment in the future. They will be a source of timber and firewood. Raw materials are provided for many industries like paper, perfumes, feeds, fertilizer, furniture and various other articles of daily use. During 2003-04, 354000 tones, of fruits worth 5912 million rupees were exported.
3. Aesthetic Value. The beauty of plants and the pleasure received are not tangible quantities that canoe measured or weighed. These are value judgments which vary with persons, places, traditions, and culture. People of different heritage will have quite different‘ opinions about what is beautiful and what is ugly. In horticulture, the elements of plant beauty are combined to their utility for human use whether horticultural plants are encountered as foods, as desserts or in a community park, their aesthetic value of horticulture always takes precedence over economics. The aesthetic value of horticulture has been used to promote mental health and a mode of.relaxation. Horticultural therapy is now a well recognized field of medical science.
4. Role in the environment. Plants serve as lungs in cleaning our environment. by regulating the CO2content of the environment. Air pollution and general degradation of the environment due to industrialization can best be controlled by the use of proper plant materials. Plants prevent soil erosion and hardy trees like ber, guava, date palm, and pomegranate can be planted to reclaim waterlogged soils. Trees act as a barrier to reduce the velocity of winds. The presence of vegetation results in
mild climates at both the micro and macro levels.
5. Medicinal Role. Many plants with medicinal value are cultivated in the horticulture sector. Pharmacology, the science of drugs and medicines is dependent on these plants. The cultivation and maintenance of such plants has its own aesthetic and economic importance. Falsa, sweet lime, and jaman are known for their cooling effects. Grapefruit is recommended for dieting patients. Bitter gourd and jaman are also considered to help diabetics.
General Agriculture By Muhammad Akhtar Abbas