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Opuntia can be food

In many SSA countries, thousands of people are dying from hunger!.
Some are living next to Opuntia (Prickly Pear) unaware that it could save the lives of them and their cattle!
In the USA and other countries, it is treated as an excellent vegetable with many health benefits.
But such has been the propaganda about the menace of it spreading that many Africans think it is poisonous!

How can the good news about it get better known where most needed?
Graham Knight
biodesigndiy@gmail.com

1 Like

I just read an article about the growing popularity as a crop in South Africa, mainly due to droughts that resulted in farmers rethinking their income crops. Prickly Pear Cactus and Pastoralism in Southwest Madagascar on JSTOR This article backs up what you are thinking about cattle and prickly pear. You would need some diversity such as pearl millet as an intercrop or a sole crop. Pearl millet is very drought tolerant and some grain in the diet is good. Prickly pear is capable of being intercropped with other crops and they have a shallow root system and can give a little beneficial shade. I think prickly pear could be a primary (starting) species and other crops could be grown under the shade. Dragon fruit may be another one that could be grown in non-irrigated areas with little rainfall. Ziziphus species are also great for these types of areas which are droughty. Diversity is good so if you have some rainfall pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cape gooseberry (ground cherries), okra, tepary bean can tolerant being a little short on water at times, particularly if they have a little shade. You will want to add organic matter and build up nutrition and water harvesting if necessary. You can also try purslane which is very drought tolerant and can be saved and dumped in a planting hole to add moisture to a future crop. Roland Bunch has found that in Mali the Gliricidia that they were using for agroforestry cropping was especially desirable as a dry season fodder to get their animals through the dry season.