Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica): Current Utilization and Future Threats as Cattle Forage in Raya-Azebo, Ethiopia

Nigus Gebremedhn Abay


The increased importance of cactus as livestock feed in arid and semiarid zone is due to its availability during critical dry months of the year. Availability of feeds for livestock is a major constraint to livestock production in drylands of Ethiopia, specifically Tigray region. This study was conducted in Maru dryland areas of Raya-Azebo, Tigray region of Ethiopia. The purpose of the study was to generate information on current and future utilization of cactus as cattle feed in minor and severe drought episodes. The study has employed multiple qualitative methods that include focus group discussion, key informant interview, field observation and review of relevant literature. The study result conveyed livestock feed shortage are caused by frequent drought, degradation of grazing land by increased number of animals and human population. Accordingly, in dry spells and drought times, mostly March to June the local farmers are highly depend on cactus as supplementary animal forage. Due to the increased frequency of drought and animal feed shortage draught oxen and lactating cow are primarily fed on cactus of other livestock types. The process of cactus preparation and cattle feeding is tough task because it takes enormous time and labor. Nevertheless of its role, the future use of Opuntia ficus-indica is threatened by farmland expansion, prevalence of cochineal insect, and increased number of camel. Therefore, for sustainable usage of Opuntia ficus-indica in the future further study on control of cochineal insect and promotion of cactus planting on degraded lands is recommended.

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Environmental Management and Sustainable Development  ISSN 2164-7682

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