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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1247: IX International Congress on Cactus Pear and Cochineal: CAM Crops for a Hotter and Drier World

Changing the perception of smallholder farmers about cactus pear in Pakistan

Authors:   M. Louhaichi, M. Islam, S. Hassan, I.A. Qamar, A. Sarker
Keywords:   dry areas, livelihood, poverty alleviation, climate change, spineless cactus
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1247.18
The increasing demands on water and feed resources across the world's dry areas require alternative sources of animal feed - specifically crops with better water-use efficiency. One alternative with the potential for widespread contribution toward reducing the impact of reduced feed and water availability is the cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica). Therefore, the aim of this study was to promote O. ficus-indica as a feed resource for livestock, as it is a drought-resistant succulent plant that is spineless and holds a large amount of water. This study examined the adoption of cactus in Pakistan, through targeting 100 households selected from three strata groups: farmers not familiar with, farmers familiar with, and farmers who had already adopted cactus. Results indicated that there is a general acceptance of cactus by farmers, while farmers stated the lack of available technical or financial means as a reason for their lack of interest in cultivating cactus. The survey also showed that a large number of smallholder farmers are familiar with cactus and are also convinced that it can be adopted for livestock feeding. In conclusion, cactus has huge potential in Pakistan as a non-conventional and valuable fodder for resource-challenged areas, especially since farmers have very positive attitudes toward cactus adoption. However, more efforts are still needed to provide the appropriate technical information to ensure that the plant's potential is effectively realized; this can be achieved through the active role of local institutions, NGOs and farmers' associations.

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