The horticulture industry plays an significant role in many important components of our daily diet and meets one’s need for pleasure. It can be a profession for researchers and teachers and an occupation or position for others working in the production phases. It is a business for merchants and a means of exercise and a small income for beginners. Horticulture enhances the physical and mental health and improves the economic success of individuals and nations.
Dietary significance of Horticulture
A complete food must have carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber and other important nutrients in it. Roundabout 30% of the food consumed in the world comes from the horticulture sector. All fruits and vegetables have some amount of edible carbohydrates and other food parts in different proportions. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are especially in starch. On a per-acre basis, potatoes and bananas produce more calories as compared to wheat. Potato is the fourth-ranking food crop in the world. Increased potato production can reduce the compulsion on grain products.
A Variety of colors, textures, and flavors make eating more interesting. Some fruits and vegetables contain high fiber contents. Leafy vegetables like celery, cabbage, lettuce, and other with high cellulose value add volume to food. Lack of vitamins and minerals cause chronic diseases. The red pigment in ‘red-blood’ oranges is a source of anthocyanin, while grapefruit contains carotene in its red pigment. Deficiency of ascorbic acid or vitamin C causes hemorrhaging and swollen gums and lower body resistance against infection. Citrus, ber, guavas, tomatoes, and melons are rich in ascorbic acid. The insufficient amount of vitamin E results in sterility. Onions, lettuce, oranges, bananas, and avocados are a great source of vitamin E.
Deficiencies of vitamin B causes beriberi, numbness and heart enlargement. Thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid are important B-vitamins present in considerable amount in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin D helps the body to utilize calcium. Children who are deficient in vitamin D develop rickets, a softening and curvature of the bones.
Minerals have a vital role in building up the human body as main parts of tissue. Important minerals that come from vegetables and fruits are Ca, Na, P, Co, Mg, Mn, Fe, and I.
The nutritional value of fruits and vegetables
The nutritional value depends on culture, conditions, consumption, and treatment in the field and after harvesting. A high level of nitrogen in the soil lowers the Ca content of vegetables and affects the consumption of proteins. Boron deficiency lowers the carotene and riboflavin content of tomatoes. The amounts of rainfall and sunlight that a crop receives also influence its ascorbic acid content.
Storage of crates and bags at high temperature, high respiration levels, and loss of water leads to loss of vitamins. Water loss resulting from ruptures takes away the water-soluble vitamins.
Cooking methods also play a role in the vitamin content of food eaten. Loss of vitamins occur due to heat and leaching. The best way to eat vegetables is fresh, or preferably raw.
In Pakistan, there is greater demand for fruits and vegetables that the existing products can meet. Generally, our supply of all horticultural products fall short of the amount to meet the requirements. Need of the hour is to make cooperative efforts to increase the production of horticultural products in our country. Higher fruit and vegetable production would improve the nutritional status of the people of Pakistan.
Higher investment in different phases of production, handling, processing, and marketing of these crops involves a higher flow of capital. Thus production of horticultural crops involves a faster economic activity in the agriculture sector. The growth of the horticultural industry will create more job opportunities and better returns to farmers.
The beauty and satisfaction from plants are not visible qualities and no one can measure them. People of different cultures and values will have different opinions about what is beautiful and what is ugly. In horticulture, the elements of plant beauty relates to enhance their utility for human use. Whether horticultural products are food or desserts, their aesthetic value always take superiority over economics. The aesthetic value of horticulture promotes mental health and is a way of relaxation. Horticultural therapy is now a well-known field of medical science.
Role of horticulture in the Environment
Plants act as lungs in cleaning our environment by regulating CO₂ content of the air. Proper plant materials can control air pollution and general destruction of the environment due to industrialization. Plants prevent soil erosion. Hardy trees like ber, guava, date palm, and pomegranate can also reclaim waterlogged soils. Trees play a role as a barrier to reduce wind velocity. The presence of vegetation results in mild climates at both the micro and macro levels.
Many plants with medicinal value are produced in the horticulture sector. Pharmacology, the science of drugs and medicines, depends on these plants. The cultivation and maintenance of these plants have their own aesthetic and economic value. Falsa, sweet lime, and Jamun have cooling effects. Bitter gourd and Jamun also help to cure diabetes.