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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(7):880-90. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.616638.

The role of underutilized fruits in nutritional and economic security of tribals: a review.

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a Assistant Professor (Home Science), Krishi Vigyan Kendra , Sirohi , Rajasthan , India.


The tribal people of Rajasthan are severely malnourished along with multiple nutrient-deficiency disorders due to ignorance about importance of fruits and vegetables in their diets. The tribal areas are full of biodiversity having natural vegetation which is not harnessed fully. Due to which a wide gap is formed between health and optimal use of natural sources of nutrients, i.e., underutilized crops. The crops, which are neither grown commercially on large scale nor traded widely, may be termed as underutilized horticultural crops. These crops are cultivated, traded, and consumed locally. These crops have many advantages like easier to grow and hardy in nature, producing a crop even under adverse soil and climatic conditions. So, exploitation of underutilized horticultural crops can become a solution to the social problem of health and nutrition insecurity, poverty, and unemployment. The consumption of underutilized fruit crops can provide nutrition to the poor and needy tribals by meeting the nutrient requirements of vulnerable groups. As underutilized fruits, nuts, and vegetables are a rich of source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, energy, vitamins-A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C, folic acid, and minerals-Ca, P, Fe, and dietary fiber. Thus, they have the nutritional capacity to prevent and cure various diseases like kwashiorkor, marasmus, night blindness, anemia, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and hidden hunger. It is also established fact that seasonal, locally available, and cheap fruits and vegetables can also keep the population healthy and nutritionally secure rather than costly off-season ones. Also, the underutilized crops have the potential to give economic security to tribals by giving employment and by fetching good returns from their sale in raw form as well as value-added products.

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