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Courgette, Cucurbita pepo / Cucurbitaceae
Cucurbita pepo was the first type of pumpkin of the genus Cucurbita to be introduced in Europe. Within the species Cucurbita pepo we distinguish two subspecies: ovifera and pepo. Courgettes belong to the latter. The group of courgettes seem to have been selected from the type "cocozelle’ in the south of Europe, spreading afterwards to the rest of tempered regions in the world.

It is difficult to obtain data of cultivated surface and production by countries, since the great majority includes pumpkins and courgettes in the same group. The average of pumpkins and courgettes from the 1995-1997 triennium according to the FAO Yearbook represented a world-wide production of 13,531,000 annual tons. The area cultivated increased in 20% during the same period.

The surface intended for courgette culture in Spain in 1995 was 5,017 ha, meaning a production of 232,326 t. The total surface cultivated has remained more or less invariable, around 5,000 t since 1990, year in which the first statistics for pumpkins and courgettes are differentiated. However, production has shown an increase of 25% in respect with the average yields, mainly due to culture under plastic.

Although imports are scarce and variable from one year to the other, these seem to be gradually increasing. During the period 1990-1994, 225 annual t were imported, mainly from the Netherlands and France.

The last few years have undergone an increase in exports, approximately 100,000 t during the period 1995-2000. These amounts represent 4 and 6% of the total of Spanish vegetables exported. More than 50% of the national export comes from Almería. The main importer is France (60%) followed by the United Kingdom and Germany (13%).

Around 15,059,064 t of pumpkins and other cucurbitaceous fruit and vegetables were produced world-wide in 1999, among which we would include courgettes. The country with greater production was India with 3,350,000 t, followed by China, with 3,331,508 t. Spain occupied the eleventh place in the production ranking, totalling 300,000 t. The following table shows the chief producers of pumpkins and other cucurbitaceous fruit and vegetables (including courgettes).

CountryTons
India3,350,000
China3,331,508
Ukraine1,060,000
Egypt648,845
Iran500,000
México440,000
Argentina430,000
Turkey390,000
Italy363,937
South Africa336,552
Spain300,000

Source: Faostat (1999).( http://www.fao.org )

In 1999, 556,059 t of pumpkins and other cucurbitaceous fruit and vegetables (courgettes included) were produced world-wide. The UE (European Union) imported during the same year 165,920 t, the USA imported 207,252 t, Japan imported 153,964 t and the rest of the countries totalled 28,923 t.

Guiding data are shown in the following table on the chief import countries in 1999:

CountryTons
The United States of America207,252
Japan153,964
France79,018
Germany28,426
United Kingdom21,103
The Netherlands9,392
Switzerland8,809
Kuwait7,592
Belgium-Luxembourg5,584
Austria5,481

Source: Faostat (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

In 1999, Spanish imports totalled 660 t, placing it below the ten first countries of courgette import in the world.

In 1999, world-wide exports of pumpkins and other cucurbitaceous fruit and vegetables (including courgettes) totalled 601,622 t. The European Union exported, in 1999, 181,325 t, Mexico 293,155 t, New Zealand exported 98,067 t of courgettes and the rest of countries 29,075 t.

The following table shows the chief world-wide countries exporting pumpkins and other cucurbitaceous fruit and vegetables:

CountryTons
Mexico293,155
Spain132,404
New Zealand98,067
Italy16,245
Tonga15,300
The Netherlands15,090
France13,961
Morocco6,936
Dominican Republic2,212
Saudi Arabia1,464

Source: Faostat (1999) ( http://www.fao.org )

As shown in the table, Spanish exports are greater than its imports, being in second place of the world-wide ranking of export countries following Mexico, that is the main exporter.

As regard to Spain, the total area intended for courgette culture totals 5,017 ha and the estimated production in 1999 by communities was as follows:

AreaHectaresTons
Andalucía3,528195,452
Castilla-LaMancha1763,819
Cataluña1987,804
Región de Murcia2887,172
Canary Islands3656,820
Comunidad Valenciana1874,456
Others2756,803
TOTAL5,017232,326

Source: La Horticultura Española (2001) Sech.

Andalucía is the Spanish community with greater courgette production, centred in the province of Almería. The Region of Murcia, Cataluña and Comunidad Valenciana are the rest of Spanish regions with larger production.
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