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An overview of chili vegetables in Pakistan

The best way of overcoming micronutrient deficiencies is the use of vegetables, which also provide small land holder farmers with more jobs and much higher income per hectare than staple crops. Over the past quarter century the worldwide production of vegetables has doubled and the value of global trade in vegetables now exceeds that of cereals. In Asia, vegetable production grew at an annual average rate of 3.4% in the 1980s and early 1990s, from 144 million MT in 1980 to 218 million MT in 1993. In addition the area under vegetable cultivation increased at an annual rate of 2.1%, from 12 million hectares in 1980 to 16.3 million hectares in 1993 with most of the increase coming from China. Tomato, cabbage, onion, hot pepper and eggplant are particularly important in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Chilies are an important vegetable used both for salad and dried condiments. It is gaining a high status due to its high cost. In Pakistan two varieties of chilies namely Capsicum annum and Capsicum frutescens are prominent. The hot types are a source of the digestive stimulant capsicin. It has a 1.5% share in the country's GDP. In Pakistan it is grown on 73.8 thousand hectares with total production of 187.7 thousand tons and average yield of 2.5 tons per hectare. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province contributed 0.6 thousand hectares with total production of 0.7 thousand tons and an average yield 1.2 tons per hectare. 

Chili belongs to the family Solanaceae and genus Capsicum. It is closely related to tomato, eggplant, potato and tobacco. The genus Capsicum signifies a diverse plant group and includes 27 species, five domesticated and 22 un-domesticated. C. annuum, C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. baccatumand C. pubescens are considered domesticated species. Chili (Capsicum annuum L.) is a common crop and cultivated all over the world. The massive agricultural, biological and horticultural diversity has made the chili a significant global cooked and fresh vegetable which is widely used for salads, pickles, for spicy flavors, as food ingredients for various powders and sauces and as a coloring agent which is also used in numerous cosmetics. Chili is considered to be the most liked spice all over the globe that is used in many recipes and cuisines to add a tangy taste to them. Moreover the spices are used medicinally and provide the ingredient for a non-lethal deterrent or repellent to some human and animal behavior. For their brightly glossy fruits chilies are also cultivated ornamentally in various regions of the world.

The spice has been used all over the world for its nutritional, commercial as well as medicinal uses. It is also used for preparation of oleoresin that has vast export potential and demand in the world market. Chilies are nutritionally rich sources of various mineral elements like molybdenum, manganese, red chilies foliate, potassium, thiamin, and copper and also possess certain vitamins like A, B, C and E. In addition to this the medicinal properties of chilies also help to minimize the risk of several lethal diseases like heart attacks, lung diseases and cancer.

Chilies are local to Central and South America. They were brought for the first time in South Asia in the 1500s and have come to rule the world spice trade. Now India is the top chili producing country followed by China and Pakistan. World production of chilies during 2007-08 was estimated to be 20.98 lac tons. The top ten chili producing countries includes India, China, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Mexico, Vietnam, Peru, Ghana and Bangladesh. These countries accounted for more than 85% of the world production in 2007. The major contribution is from India with a 36% share in global production, followed by China 11%, Bangladesh 8%, Peru 8% and Pakistan 6%.

This article was written by:
Dr. Rashad Mukhtar Balal, Muhammad Wajid Khan, Dr. Gulzar Akhtar, Dr. Ahsan Akram, Muhammad Zubair 
Department of Horticulture
University College of Agriculture
University of Sargodha
Punjab, Pakistan
Cell: +92_321_6211912

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