Minister for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh to address one day National Workshop on “Cactus for Green Economy in Watershed Projects” at New Delhi through Video Conference tomorrow

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Minister for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh will address the one day National Workshop on “Cactus for Green Economy in Watershed Projects” through Video Conference tomorrow. As a part of promoting cactus cultivations, the Department of Land Resources (DoLR) is organizing the National Workshop at Bharat Mandampam, New Delhi. The workshop will endeavor to bring together various views from experts, entrepreneurs, innovators, representatives of think-tanks, and Government Ministries/ Departments for promotion of Cactus cultivation and its economic usages by linking backward & forward linkages.

Cactus is the hardiest plant species which requires only scanty rainfall for its growth and survival. Accordingly, DoLR is exploring various options for taking up cactus cultivation on rainfed/degraded lands for realizing the benefits for fuel, fertilizer, fodder, leather, food etc purposes, for the larger benefit of the country and enhancing farmers’ incomes.

At present, cactus cultivation is limited to fodder purpose in the country. The various other economic usages of cactus as explained above needs awareness, publicity and its promotion through facilitating availability of quality plantation material, package of practices on ideal eco-system and marketing avenues. This workshop will be an opportunity for industry, experts, and States/UTs to collaborate and design a roadmap for enabling promotion of cactus cultivation in arid and semi arid areas and cactus based industries for encashing its various economic uses.

DoLR is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Watershed Development Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY)’. The main objective of the Scheme is to sustainably develop rainfed/degraded lands in the country. The scope of WDC-PMKSY permits taking up suitable plantations of various kinds, which help in restoration of rainfed/degraded lands.  DoLR, has already issued Guidelines for ‘Promotion of Spineless Cactus Cultivation/Plantation in Watershed Projects under WDC-PMKSY’ and circulated to all the States / UT of J&K and Ladakh for taking necessary steps for cultivation of cactus for generation of bio-gas and other usages. A tentative minimum target of 10,000 ha is kept for undertaking cactus plantation under this initiative.

International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has established 2 cubic meter capacity bio-digester at their farm in Amlaha, Madhya Pradesh. After experimenting various combinations of cactus bio mass and cow dung as feed stock in the bio digester, ICARDA reported that 90% cactus bio mass plus 10 % cow dung as feed stock, generated bio-gas containing about 65% methane.

Now, DoLR has decided to undertake bigger pilot projects for generation of bio-gas using cactus as feed stock. Accordingly, DoLR in collaboration with States has initiated steps for plantation of cactus on large scale.

A pilot study at National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala reported that 3 kg cactus produces 3.38 sq. feet of bio-leather which could in turn be used for making 2 pairs of bio-degradable chappals or 3 small size of bags or 2 pair of shoes. Leather made from plants is non-violent, climate friendly, and generally has a low impact on the environment. Cactus leather is a prime example of this.

Cactus pears fruits are sweet in taste, juicy and nutritious. The high sugar and low acid blend of the fruits make it delicious and palatable. Several traditional foods are prepared from cactus pear, including fruit-based products: jams, juices and nectars; dried fruit; juice concentrate and syrups; and liquors.

Livestock production remains the main source of income for rural population living in drylands. Cactus cladodes are used as a low cost green fodder for livestock especially in arid and semi-arid areas for cattle, sheep and goats. As a feedstock, nopal cactus can improve the quality of milk and meat due to its high value of essential vitamins and minerals.

Carbon sequestration in drylands could be promoted or atleast conserved under cactus cultivation. Cactus is a perennial succulent, drought resistant & multi-purpose crop with significant ecological, economic and social potential. It is an ideal candidate that can grow in the dry and degraded lands. The cactus and its multitude varieties of products have immense potential for employment generation and income generation which may prove very promising for meeting Government’s objective of ‘doubling farmer’s incomes’ and promoting economic activity, as well as ecological conservation. This workshop is expected to bring awareness among various stakeholders and to connect them with each other.



Source PIB