Fruits and vegetables are of large varieties and can be grown in varied geographical conditions. There are some fruit s and vegetables which can be grown in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate lands but spices are basically the crops of tropical zone.
Date tree grows well in hot, dry and cloudless atmosphere of deserts. But the roots of the date tree need water in the soil which is often supplied through irrigation. It is often said that the top of the date tree should be in burning sun shine while its bottom should be in water. Date trees are not strictly tropical in nature because they can withstand mild frost also. Almost all hot deserts of the world produce dates in varied quantities. These include Sahara and Atacama deserts of Africa and deserts of S.W. Asia. The main producers are Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Banana is a rich item of food and an important item of trade in the tropical lands. Its cultivation is limited by rigid physical conditions as it requires low lying yet well drained land, a rainfall varying from 150 cm to 250 cm so distributed that there is no drought and maximum sunshine and a uniformly high temperature. Irrigation is practised in areas of comparatively low rainfall. Crop is damaged if the temperature falls below 11′ C. Brazil, India, Indonesia, Ecuador, Thailand, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica are the main producing countries.
It is basically a tropical fruit and can grow on a variety of soils. It requires more than 25′ C temperature and rainfall exceeding 150 cm. It does not tolerate very high temperature and at the some time frost is injurious to its growth. Thailand, China, Philippines and India are the leading producers.
Mango is a typical fruit of the tropical monsoons and requires rainfall from 75 to 250 cm concentrated in the months from June to September. Temperature varying from 25′ to 28′ C is most suitable for the mango tree and it can be grown right from the sea level to altitude of 1500 m. It is capable of withstanding wide range of climate and soil conditions and can thrive in both heavy rainfall and dry conditions. However, pre-monsoon mango showers are useful. The leading producers are India, Pakistan and China.
It is a perennial tree of palm variety which is grown extensively in humid coastal areas of the tropical zone. It requires 25′ C temperature and a frost free weather. It grows well on sand loams along the sea coast where the annual rainfall varies from 100 to 225 cm. Philippines, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka are the main producers.
These areas are popular for producing citrius fruits (oranges, lemons, limes) and grapes. The Mediterranean region is well known for olivers, gs, grapes, chestnuts, walnuts, almonds etc. e main producers are Spain, Italy Turkey, California (U.S.A.), and Israel.
Grapes comprise typical crop of the mediterranean climate which has wet winter and dry summer. Grapes grow well in well drained high, friable loamy soils. Italy, France, China, and the U.S.A. are chief producers. The cultivation of grapes is known as viticulture.
Deciduous Fruits include apple, pear, peaches, plum, nuts (hazel nut) apricot, cherries etc. These fruits are grown in cool temperate climate region which is world famous for growing a wide variety of fruits. Apple is an important fruit of the temperate lands which requires summer temperatures of more than 15′ C, 60-75 cm rainfall and at least 100 frost free days. China, France, Italy and India are the main producers.
There are hundreds of different types of vegetables and one vegetable or the other is grown in all parts of the world depending upon the seasonal conditions of the concerned area. Most of the vegetables are produced for local consumption but due to the introduction of quick modes of transportation and refrigeration different types of vegetable have entered into international trade.
Tuber Crops like cassava and yarns are produced in the tropical areas. Sweet potatoes in the sub-tropical areas and potatoes in the temperate areas. China, Russia, India and U.S.A. are the main producers of potatoes. Yams are mainly produced in Nigeria and other West African countries.
Root crops like beets, carrots and turnips are mainly the crops of the temperate land although some of them are grown in sub-tropical areas also in limited quantities.
Tomatoes are mainly grown in warm temperate regions whereas mushroom can be grown in both cool temperate and warm tropical regions. Onion is primarily the crop of tropical lands and India is the leading producer of onion.
Spices add much needed aroma to our food and are a rich source of nutrients. A large variety of spices is grown and tropical wet areas are the main producers of spices. India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of spices.
Cardamom is the most important item of spices and is popularly known as the ‘Queen of Spices’. Its seeds contain 2 to 8 per cent of strongly aromatic volatile oil and adds aroma and taste to our food. It is purely a tropical plant and requires 10′-35′ C temperate and about 150 cm well distributed annual rainfall. It thrives well on well-drained rich forest loam and red, deep well-textured soil containing plenty of humus. It is usually grown on hill slopes between 600 and 1500 m altitude. India is the largest producer, consumer and export of cardamom in the world.
Pepper is one of the most important spices. It is typically a plant of tropical zone and is grown in areas having annual rainfall of 250 cm and high temperature which may even exceed 35′ C. It requires well drained clay loams soil. It can also be grown in red, laterite and virgin soils of the western Ghats in India. India is the largest producer. The other producing countries are Malaysia and Indonesia.
Cloves are the dried buds of clove tree which grows mainly in the tropical lands. Pemba and Zanzibar islands of the East African coast are the main producers. Countries of S.E. Asia and India are also important producers.
Chilli is the pod of a small plant which grows in tropical parts of Asia and America. A moderate rainfall of 60 to 125 cm and temperature varying from 10′ to 30′ C are the climatic conditions which suit this plant. Irrigation is required in areas of lesser rainfall. It can grow on a variety of soils including well drained cotton soils, heavy clayey soils, sandy and alluvial loams, red loamy soils etc. It was introduced in India from Brazil in the 17th century. Today, most of the Indian states with geographical conditions suited it are producing chilli. Dried and ground chilli is called red or cayesume pepper and is used to give taste to food.
Vanilla is obtained from the seeds of an orchid which is indigenous to the South African forest. It is used in bakery products (cake), ice cream and other food items. Mexico, Malagasy and Indonesia are the main producers.
Ginger is indigenous to China and is known for its aromatic rhizomes. It can be used both as a spice and as a medicine. It requires 15′-25′ C temperature and 125-250 cm rainfall and grows well under shade. It can grow on a variety of soils, of which sandy or clayey loams and red loams and laterites are more suited to its cultivation.