Underutilized Fruits and Vegetables in Hot Arid Regions of India: Status and Prospects: A Review

DOI: 10.18805/ag.R-2087    | Article Id: R-2087 | Page : 38-45
Citation :- Underutilized Fruits and Vegetables in Hot Arid Regions of India: Status and Prospects: A Review.Agricultural Reviews.2022.(43):38-45
P.R. Meghwal, Akath Singh, Dalpat Singh prm20964@gmail.com
Address : ICAR- Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur-342 003, Rajasthan, India.
Submitted Date : 22-08-2020
Accepted Date : 26-12-2020


The hot arid regions in India is spread in an area of 31.7 m ha, majority area being in Rajasthan (61%). The great Indian Thar desert is also located in this region. This region receives vary low rain fall with erratic distribution. Presence of harsh climatic condition such as high evapotranspiration, low relative humidity, with high aridity index and high wind velocity are other disadvantages. The soils are also light textured, less fertile, and prone to wind erosion. About 90 per cent of the area is dependent on monsoon rain for growing of annual crops which often fails due to insufficient rain or improper distribution. Despite these limitations, the region has good floral and faunal diversity that supports high human and livestock population. Many drought hardy perennial fruits and vegetables are grown with annual crops to complement farm income. Certain fruit crops like pomegranate (Punica granatum), Indian jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana Lam.), aonla (Emblica officinalis), date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) and Citrus species are grown commercially in irrigated areas. Many underutilized fruit crops also grow naturally or are cultivated. These include kair (Capparis decidua), lasora (Cordia myxa) jhar ber (Ziziphus nummularia), bordi (Ziziphus rotundifolia) pilu (Salvadora oleoides), khejri (Prosopis cineraria), phalsa (Grewia subinaequalis), Bengal quince (Aegle marmelos), karonda (Carissa carandas), prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica), kachri (Cucumis melo var. callosus) and snap melon (Cucumis melo var. momordica) etc. Most of these species are drought hardy with less incidence of pests and diseases yet give good yield despite environmental constraints. They serve as a source of nutrition for rural people being rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fibres and other bioactive compounds. Germplasm collection, evaluation, conservation, ethnomedicinal values, improvement, propagation, agrotechniques, post-harvest management, value addition and future prospects of some of these crops are discussed in the paper.


Agrotechniques Hot arid region Underutilized fruits drought


  1. Agent (1994). A survey of the market for fruits and vegetables in the hotel and restaurant industry, Agent‘s business production, processing and marketing information centre, Issue No 19, Colombo, 2.
  2. Anonymous (1962). The wealth of India: Raw materials, vol 6. Publications and Information Directorate, CSIR, New Delhi, pp. 298-300.
  3. Anonymous (1972). The wealth of India, Raw materials 9, 193, CSIR, New Delhi.
  4. Bhandari, M.M. (1990). Flora of Indian Desert. MPS Repros, 39, BGKT Extension, Jodhpur (Rajasthan).
  5. Barua, U., Das, R.P., Gogoi, B. and Baruah, S.R. (2019). Underutilized fruits of Assam for livelihood and nutritional security. Ag. Reviews. 40(3): 175-184.
  6. Chouhan, B.M., Duhan, A. and Bhatt, C.M. (1986). Nutritional value of Ker (Capparis decidua) fruit. J. Food Sci. Tech. 23(2): 106-108.
  7. Heywood, V.H. (1978). Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, London, 335 p.
  8. Khan, H.A., Meghwal, P.R. and Harsh, L.N. (2005). Salvadora oleoides Decne: An underutilized economic plant of the desert. Science Tech. entrepreneur. 12(12): 61-64.
  9. Kumar Suresh, Farzana Parveen and Pratap Narain (2005). Medicinal plants in the Indian Arid Zone. Technical bulletin CAZRI Jodhpur, pp.64. 
  10. Meghwal, P.R. (2002). Judging culinary maturity of Kair fruits (Capparis decidua). Curr. Agric. 26(1-2): 75-76.
  11. Meghwal, P.R. (2006). Effect of time and intensity of pruning on vegetative growth, fruit yield and quality of phalsa. Annals of Arid Zone. 45(1): 59-62.
  12. Meghwal, P.R. (2007). Propagation studies in lehsua (Cordia myxa). Indian J. Agri Sci. 77(11): 765-767. 
  13. Meghwal, P.R. and Azam, M.M. (2007). Prospects of horticultural crops of arid zone for processing industries. International Exhibition and conference on processed food. Aug. 29-Sept., 2, 2007, Jaipur (Rajasthan).
  14. Meghwal, P.R. (2008). Dehydration of fruits and vegetable from traditional farming systems of arid Zone. In: Diversification of Arid Farming System (Eds. Pratap Narain, M.P. Singh, Amal Kar, S. Kathju and Praveen Kumar). Arid Zone Research Association of India and Scientific Publishers (India), Jodhpur, pp. 405-407. 
  15. Meghwal, P.R., Singh, S.K., Singh, A. and Pathak, R. (2014). Characterization of karonda accession under arid regions. J. App. Hort. 16(2): 157-160. 
  16. Meghwal, P.R. Singh, A. and Pradeep-Kumar (2014). Evaluation of selected gonda genotypes (Cordia myxa L.) on different rootstocks. Indian J. Hort. 71(3): 415-418.
  17. Meghwal, P.R. (2018). Collection, evaluation and improvement of some underutilized fruits in hot Indian desert. Indian J. Arid Hort. 13(1 and 2): 59-64.
  18. Meghwal, P.R., Singh, A. and Singh, D. (2018a). Enhancing the Productivity of Lasora (Cordia myxa L.) through Genetic Improvement and Production Management. Paper presented in national conference on Arid Horticulture for Enhancing productivity and economic empowerment. 27-29 October, organized by Indian Society of Arid Horticulture and ICAR-Central Institute for Arid Horticulture, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India.
  19. Meghwal, P.R. Kumar, A. and Kumar, S. (2018b). Performance of Cactus pear at two geographical locations in Indian Arid Zone. Indian J. Hort. 75(1): 157-160.
  20. Meghwal, P.R. and Akath, S. (2019a). Maru Samridhi: new lasora variety Indian Horticulture. 64(2): 32-33. 
  21. Meghwal, P.R. and Singh Akath and Singh, S.K. (2019b). Maru Gaurav: new karonda variety. Indian Hort. 64(2): 30-31.
  22. Mishra, K.K. (2007). Cultivating promising bael selections. Indian Hort. 52(3): 13-15.
  23. Mitra, S.K. Pathak, P.K. and Chakraborty, I. (2010). Potential of underutilized tropical fruits of India. Acta Hort. 864: 61-68.
  24. Pareek, O.P. and Sharma, S. (1993). Underutilized fruits. Indian Hort. 38: 47-58.
  25. Pathak, R.K., Pandey, D. and Pramamick, P.K. (2003). CISH B-1 and CISH B-2–Two Promising selections in Bael. ICAR News 9(1): 16.
  26. Raja, S., Apparao, V.V., Yadav, L.P., Singh, S. and Sharma, B.D. (2018). Thar Harsha: A new drought tolerant drumstick. Indian Hort. 63(3): 19-22. 
  27. Roy, S.K., Pal, R.K. and Ramanjaneya, R.H. (1999). Jamun: a potential fruit for processing. Indian. Hort. 44(2): 9-12.
  28. Roy, M.M., Kumar, S., Meghwal, P.R. and Kumar, A. (2015). Prospects of Cactus Introduction for Improving Livelihood in Low Rainfall Regions of India. Acta Hort. 1067: 239-246.
  29. Samadia, D.K. (2007). Underutilized arid vegetables. In: Underutilized and Underexploited horticultural crops, [Peter, K.V. (ed.)] New India Publishing Agency, New Delhi (India), Vol.2,    pp.153-174.
  30. Samadia, D.K. (2015). Khejri - Thar Shobha: Grow for horticultural exploitation. Technical Folder, ICAR-Central Institute for Arid Horticulture, Bikaner (Rajasthan), 6p.
  31. Samadia, D.K. (2016). Khejri-Thar Shobha - Grow for Horticultural exploitation. Technical Folder, ICAR-CIAH, Bikaner, Rajasthan (India).
  32. Samadia, D.K., Haldhar, S.M. and Verma, A.K. (2018). Underutilized Arid vegetables for income. Indian Hort. 63(5):47-52.
  33. Shankarnarayan, K.A., Harsh, L.N. and Kathzu, S. (1987). Agroforestry in arid zones of India. Agroforestry Syst. 5: 69-88.
  34. Shukla, S.K. and Kumar, S. (2009). Underutilized Subtropical Fruits, 184p. International Book Distributing Co., Lucknow, India. 
  35. Singh, R. (1979). Fruits. National Book Trust, New Delhi.
  36. Singh, A.K., Singh, S., Joshi, H.K. and Singh, R.S. (2012). Goma Yashi to enrich fruit basket. Indian Hort. 57(5): 6-8.
  37. Singh, A.K. Singh, S. and Joshi, H.K. (2013). Improving socio-economics through rainfed bael. Indian Hort. 58(4): 14-17. 
  38. Singh, A.K., Singh, S., Singh, R.S. and Sharma, S.K. (2015). Thar Divya: an early maturing variety of bael for drylands. Indian Hort. 60(6): 11-13. 
  39. Singh, S., Singh, A.K., Apparao, V.V. and Bhargwa, R. (2015). Thar Rituraj: a new khirni variety. Indian Hort. 60(6): 14-15.
  40. Singh, A.K., Singh, S., Singh, R.S. and Sharma, B.D. (2016). Thar Neelkanth: a new bael variety. Indian Hort. 61(5): 8-10.
  41. Singh, A.K., Singh, S. and Saroj, P.L. (2017). Cultivating climate resilient bael for future. Indian Hort. 62(4): 43-45.
  42. Singh, D. Singh, S. and Saroj, P.L. (2018). Improvement of fruit crops for Arid and semi-arid regions. In: Saroj, P.L., Bhargawa, R., Sharma, B.D., Singh, D. and Singh, S., Souvenir of National Conference on Arid Horticulture for Enhancing Productivity and Economic Empowerment at ICAR-CIAH , Bikaner. 27-29 October, pp. 46-50.
  43. Vashishtha, B.B. (1981). Horticultural qualities of bordi (Ziziphus nummularia). In: Mann H S and Saxena S K (Eds). Bordi. (Ziziphus nummularia): A shrub of the Indian Arid zone-Its role in silvipasture. CAZRI Monogram No.13, ICAR-CAZRI, Jodhpur pp 31-33.

Global Footprints