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Cash Crops: An Introduction


Cash crops are grown for cash generation rather than for sustenance. The commodities are produced and consumed as fruits, flowers, foliage, stems, roots, latex, or any plant parts that are consumed directly or processed products as fiber, rubber, sugar, beverages, and biofuel. An array of crops like wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, cherries, apples, strawberries, soybean, bananas, cotton, jute, oranges, jojoba, jatropha, groundnut, and brassicas come under the umbrella of cash crops. Breeding activities have achieved a linear increase at an average rate of 32 million metric tons per year against an expected turnover of 44 million metric tons per year. The ensuing climate change, low agricultural diversity, and high intensity of agricultural inputs can exacerbate food insecurity and instability. Conserving crop biodiversity is an urgent undertaking. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that 25–30% of plant species will be extinct or endangered in the next century. As such, cash crops are utilized by humans to earn money, and such crops are prone to climate changes. Hence, safe guarding the existing diversity and producing new diversity in cash crops are of utmost importance.

Molecular marker techniques like SSRs, DArTseq, and SNP genotyping assays in cash crops are on the progress. In many crops, data obtained through PCR analysis of DNA fragments from ancient DNA samples have shown evolutionary changes within the gene pool over a long time. During the last three decades, under the auspices of FAO, the international community has strived to developing and maintaining a global system on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. CGIAR centers make significant contributions to both the global system and SDG Target 2.5 through international PGRFA collections. Case situations on cacao, coffee, sugarcane, and Hevea rubber are explained.


  • Cash crops
  • Genetic diversity
  • Molecular tools
  • Genomics
  • Climate change
  • Biotechnology

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The authors are thankful to Dr. William Solano and Dr. Rolando H. Cerda of CATIE, Costa Rica and Dominique Dessauw of CATIE/CIRAD, for providing details of cacao and coffee germplasm collections. Special thanks to Dr. Sarada Krishnan, Director (Hort.), Denver Botanic Gardens for suggestions on coffee.

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Priyadarshan, P.M., Jain, S.M. (2022). Cash Crops: An Introduction. In: Priyadarshan, P., Jain, S.M. (eds) Cash Crops. Springer, Cham.

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