Kachchh (Gujarat) is the second largest district in India and is predominantly arid with 13% uncultivable wasteland. This peculiar ecological situation makes the area suitable for popularisation and cultivation of cactus to reduce fodder deficit experienced in the region. The cactus (thorn-less) as a fodder can be used for cow, buffalo and goats to replace up to 40% of daily fodder requirement. Apart from its use as fodder, some accessions of cactus can be used as vegetable and fruits for human consumption, land reclamation, cosmetics and medicinal uses etc. Looking into its enormous potential as fodder, ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Regional Research Station, Kukma-Bhuj organised a Field Day cum Training Programme on Thorn less Cactus on 8th October 2015 to create awareness among farmers for cultivation and its various uses. About 50 farmers including 15 farm women from the region participated in the training programme.
Dr. Devi Dayal, Head, CAZRI-RRS mentioned about the thorn less cactus programme of CAZRI wherein 64 accessions received from ICARDA, New Delhi office are being evaluated since 2012. He discussed in detail the method of transplanting, irrigation, harvesting practices and its use as fodder. The cultivation of cactus was demonstrated on 10 farmer’s field this year which exhibited excellent growth. Dr. Mounir Louhaichi, scientists, ICARDA shared his experiences and advised farmers about important precautions to be taken while establishing cactus plantation. He opined that cactus is ideal for the climatic characteristics of Kachchh and can solve the fodder deficit if planted on wastelands available in the region. He also indicated that the production potential of cactus is immense if planted on good land with capability to provide fodder yield of 25-30 t/ha. Dr. Mounir Louhaichi, also visited the cactus germplasm maintained at CAZRI, Bhuj both in nursery and under field condition and also the demonstration on farmers field and appreciated the work on cactus being done at the station.
(Source: ICAR-CAZRI, RRS, Bhuj)