Breeding strategies and scope of improvement in arid zone fruit crop-plants under abiotic stressed agro-climate: an analysis
Dry-land horticulture has immense potential in providing nutrition, social security and eco-restoration for the inhabitants of desert or rainfed and tribal land-areas of hot arid and semi-arid regions of the country. Realizing the importance and visionary support, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had prioritized research with few fruits in 1976 and then AICRP on arid zone fruits was started from 1978 with crop based centers in hot–spot region and this strengthen resulted to giving rise of Central Institute for Arid Horticulture in 1993 as national concern for conservation and use of arid crop-plant diversity and their promotion for horticultural exploitation. During 1985, commercial capacity of ber, pomegranate, aonla, bael, tamarind and custard apple was renowned. Indian sub-continent is one of recognized centre of origin or secondary areas of regional diversity for number of fruit crop-plant which are of native to arid and tribal areas, and not much attended for their potentiality i.e. ber, bordi, jharber, khejri, ker, lasora, gundi, pilu, phalsa, daasra, karonda, aonla, bael, wood apple, custard apple, tamarind, jamun, tendu, chironji, mahua, khirni, Palmyra palm, Indian dates, mulberry, fig and sehjan etc. There is ample scope for these drought tolerant and low input requiring crop-plant and for this there is rich reserve of considerable genetic variability is exists in species from Thar desert and tribal areas of the north-western India, which can yield fruits for fresh consumption, products of horticultural and nutraceutical values. Thus, their systematic exploitation and commercialization can not only provide food security but also ensure economic stability in rural masses in vast arid and semi-arid and/or tribal dominating sub-humid areas.
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