Various options for taking up Cactus plantation on degraded land should be explored for realising the benefits of its usage for bio-fuel, food and bio-fertiliser: Union Minister
Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh convened a consultation meeting on ‘Cactus Plantation and its Economic Usage’ in New Delhi. The meeting was attended by the Ambassador of Chile, Mr Juan Angulo M; Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Morocco, Mr Errachid Alaoui Mrani; Head of Energy Division, Embassy of Brazil, Mrs Carolina Saito; the Agricultural Attache, Embassy of Brazil, Mr Angelo Mauricio. Indian Ambassadors of these countries also attended the meeting through VC.
Fourteen experts from various countries like Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, South Africa and India also attended the meeting through VC. Secretaries of the Department of Land Resources (DoLR), Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Rural Development, and representatives of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) & International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and other senior officials were also present.
India has approximately 30% of its geographical area under the category of degraded land. DoLR has been mandated to restore degraded lands through its Watershed Development Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY). Plantations of various kinds constitute one of the activities which help in the restoration of degraded lands.
Union Minister of Rural Development Shri Singh desired that various options for taking up Cactus plantation on degraded land should be explored for realising the benefits of its usage for bio-fuel, food, fodder and bio-fertiliser production for the larger benefit of the country. The Minister is of the view that bio-fuel production will reduce the fuel import burden of the country apart from contributing towards employment and income generation for the poor farmers of these areas.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Land Areas (ICARDA) are being roped in for setting up a pilot project in Amlaha Farm of ICARDA in Madhya Pradesh. The Ministry of Petroleum has been requested to provide necessary technical assistance in this venture.
Cactus is a Xerophytic Plant which though growing relatively at a slower pace has immense potential as stated above. Moreover, it will help in achieving Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the country as well. The Department is of the view that cactus plantations will be picked up by the farmers of degraded land areas if the benefits outweigh their existing level of income. Experiences of countries like Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Morocco and various others are being explored which will be of great help for the realisation of the objective.
Disclaimer: This is an official press release by PIB.