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GENETIC RESOURCES OF HORTICULTURE IN INDIA | FAO in India | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


28/06/2016

Plant biodiversity has a great relevance to the evolution of mankind from hunters and gatherers to organized agriculture. In fact, Bible mentions about the “Forbidden fruit” and “Garden of Eden” when God created the life forms. They were indications of the importance of the Horticulture. The origin of Botanic gardens started since then. Sacred groves are part of this evolution. India is home to a large number of agricultural crops (including horticulture).  It is considered to be the homeland of 167 important plant species of cereals, millets, fruits, condiments, vegetables, pulses, fibre crops and oilseeds, and 114 breeds of domesticated animals. About 4,900 species of flowering plants are endemic to the country. These are distributed among 141 genera belonging to 47 families.

India is the centre of diversity for many Horticultural crops, which have all kinds of endemic varieties, alleles and even, Linnean species. India is known as land of spices, being the origin of two important spices, black pepper and cardamom and also for ginger, turmeric, Garcinia and Myristica with maximum diversity. Rich diversity also occurs in India for medicinal and aromatic plants and traditional knowledge associated with their uses, particularly in the Western Ghats and North-Eastern region. Besides, Indian subcontinent is rich repository for ornamental trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs and succulents. Wild relatives are also available in plenty in the rain forest habitats.

The Horticultural germplasm is being conserved both under in situ and ex-situ gene banks. The horticulture crops germplasm of over 36000 are being conserved under different ICAR institutes in India covering nearly about 130 horticultural crops 

The advent of commercialization and development of urban based Horticulture led to the loss of genetic materials such as land races and Heirlooms. Heirloom varieties can be of immense value to a researcher as they can be used in the breeding programme and can be used by farmers for other value added products and help in getting better income when the commercial varieties are not in fruiting.

Source: UNEWS, June 2016 UNIC.



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