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CAB Review

How can fruit production be made more sustainable?

Abstract

The world population is expected to be doubled by the next few decades that will increase the food demand in future. The fruit production is no doubt has of great importance in agricultural sector due to the economic importance and as well as their beneficial effect on human health. Adopting the sustainable ways of fruit production is the need of the day to cope with upcoming future problems. Today's fruit production approaches the goals of sustainability in some respects, but it is seriously lacking in others, such as the narrow genetic base of existing cultivars and the need for soil treatment with broad-spectrum biocides to maintain production in continuous monocultures. Demanding task of keeping competitiveness in global market and in same time enhancing biodiversity, decreasing energy inputs and reducing environmental impact is accompanied with pressure from consumers for selectivity, quality, safety and transparency of products. Logical question arises than, if sustainable development of fruit production sector is possible in the future or not. The purpose of this review is to examine sustainability of today's fruit production and point out possible future trends. This review summarizes the use of resistant cultivars, rootstocks, the use of wild fruits, the changes in soil management fruit nutrition and, light manipulation, pesticides, the use of bioregulators and biostimulants, irrigation, improvements in machinery, advancements in postharvest technology and socioeconomic aspects as tools for achieving sustainability of fruit production. If used together, these tools will enable technological change from a yield-focused model to a system that will be focused on crop quality and conservation of natural resources, as well to benefits of producers, workers, consumers and a society as a whole which is the fundamental characteristic of sustainability. This is not simple task and it will take long time, but with the long-term commitment of all role-players (producers, traders, consumers, government bodies, regulatory agencies, etc.) it can be achieved. The role of science and education has not to be neglected in this process since only innovation and knowledge driven technologies will enable faster improvement of sustainability of fruit production.