Vegetable Crops: Linking Production, Breeding and Marketing
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2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights reserved. Vegetable production has been a major and dynamic activity devised by diverse human cultures to sustain their livelihood for centuries. Vegetables, being several times more productive per unit area than cereals, can play a vital role in facing food security and nutrition challenges in the coming decades. However, the predicted climate change and increased demand on limited land and water resources makes water conservation a key component of vegetable production systems. At the same time, there is an increased global demand for healthy and nutritious vegetables. Dramatic improvements have been achieved through breeding for important abiotic stresses and quality traits in many vegetables. Thus, successful emerging small or large commercial farmers now apply integrated strategies from farm to table, including planting, grafting, irrigation, use of modern cultivars and innovative marketing tools. In this chapter we highlight some technological advances in vegetable production, with emphasis on stand establishment and irrigation management for water-limited areas. We discuss the impact of breeding and genetics on the improvement of abiotic stress tolerance and provide evidences on the use of improved germplasm and cultivars to enhance the quality of vegetables. Finally, we discuss the critical role of marketing and consumer trends for vegetable products.