Aggressive Plan Needed for Nutritional Cactus Crop, Says DG, ICAR

International Workshop on Cactus Crop Inaugurated

New Delhi, 25 November, 2011

‘More aggressive plan is needed to grow cactus crop in India. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will start focusing on this crop with 10, 000 ha area in the country to spread and show amazing uses of cactus crop in India with Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) as nodal center’, said Dr S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR. He was addressing the Inaugural session of two day International Workshop on ‘Cactus crop to improve the rural livelihoods and to adapt to climate change in the arid and semi-arid regions of India’ jointly organized by ICAR, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), FAO and National Rainfed Area Authority.

Aggressive Plan Needed for Nutritional Cactus Crop, Says DG, ICAR

Speaking as Chief Guest, Dr Ayyappan elaborated the crucial role of cactus in food and nutritional security of the country. While highlighting the characteristics of cactus, he suggested that the wide network of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) can be employed to spread the cactus in different parts of India. He offered to organize a National Meet on cactus to bring experts from all over the world, farmers and entrepreneurs to deliberate on emerging market of cactus products.

Shri Mukesh Khullar, Joint Secretary (Crops) & Mission Director, National Food Security Mission, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation stressed the need to promote cactus as an important crop among farmers and its products among consumers. He assured full assistance and cooperation for knowledge-backed cactus network programme in India. ‘Cactus can solve many problems of arid and semi arid areas of India. We can use it as non-conventional food with less calories and more nutritional quality. It can play an important role in food security of the country’, he added.

Dr Gopi N Ghosh, FAO representative in India described cactus as future crop of the world. He stressed the immediate need to promote this versatile crop in India. Dr Ali Nefzaoui, FAO-ICARDA Cactus Network, Tunisia emphasized on important use of cactus in health, food, ornamental, horticulture and controlling soil erosion. Dr K C Bansal, Director, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and Dr Ashutosh Sarker, Regional Coordinator, ICARDA-South Asia and China Regional Programme also graced the occasion.

Dr. Gurbachan Singh, Chairman, Agricultural Scientists’ Recruitment Board, ICAR urged to use cactus as a precious water and energy saver crop. While describing the amazing qualities of cactus he hoped that ICAR may pave the way for nurturing the emerging market of cactus products.

Cactus is getting eyeball in every continent as vital crop for increasing plant cover, carbon sequestration, livestock feeding, conserving wildlife, medicinal and cosmetic uses. Its estimated cultivation area is 18, 91000 ha. More than 1600 species is found on the planet and used as soil-water conservator. Nearly 50 products including Juice, Nectars, Candies, Frozen pulp, flowers marketed around the world. National and international experts are participating in the workshop

Dr Ashutosh Sarker, Regional Coordinator, ICARDA-SACRP proposed vote of thanks.

(Source: NAIP Sub-Project on Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA)