CACTUS PEAR PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN TIGRAY, NORTHERN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia has some of the lowest socioeconomic indicators in the world. About 90% of the population earn their living mainly from agricultural activities, which are mostly based on rainfed agriculture. Desertification and water shortages represent huge challenges for agriculture in arid areas. Agricultural systems based on the choice of appropriate crops are key to sustainable development. After its introduction in the mid-XIXth century, cactus pear has become one of the most common plants in Tigray and its fruits are immensely popular. An estimate of 105.26 t are consumed daily from June to August in the three most important urban centers, a volume higher than orange and banana. Cactus pear thrives in rocky soils of Northeast part of Tigray receiving 350 mm of rain, but also in deep vertisols of the lowlands (800 mm of rain) close to sorghum fields. Officially, there are 32,352 ha covered by cactus pear in Tigray, but the figure seems to be much higher, therefore accurate statistics are needed for planning. Wild stocks located in land reserves, field boundaries, family orchards and cactus pear intercropped with wheat or barley are main production systems in Ethiopia. Up to 50 varieties have been reported to exist -with many potential redundants- but only two dominate the market, both of yellow pulp and peel. In this paper, the current status of cactus pear in Tigray is discussed.
Mondragon Jacobo, C. and Tegegne, F. (2006). CACTUS PEAR PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN TIGRAY, NORTHERN ETHIOPIA. Acta Hortic. 728, 59-70
erosion control, orchards, wild cactus pear, Opuntia ficus-indica