Importance of Micronutrients in the Changing Horticultural Scenario in India
Sustenance and well-being of humankind are linked to the stocks of essential nutrients in the bio-geosphere and the capacity for cycling and manipulation. Micronutrients play a major role in crop production due to their essentiality in plant metabolism and adverse effects that manifest due to their deficiency. Besides affecting plant growth, micronutrients also play a major role in disease resistance in cultivated crop species. A hitherto lesser-understood phenomenon is their role in determining quality and the post harvest life of harvested produce. In the Indian context, this situation has become alarming due to the widespread occurrence of micronutrient imbalance throughout the country. Though soil application of soluble forms of micronutrients has been widely practiced in the past, it calls for introspection, considering the nature of occurrence of micronutrient related maladies. Novel approaches include application of crop-specific foliar formulations of micronutrients, application of chelated forms of micronutrients and the genetic biofortification of crops. In view of the importance of micronutrients in human diet, it is felt that biofortification of horticultural crops will play a definite and major role in addressing nutritional security of the nation in the coming years.
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