Recommended: Use spineless Opuntia for soil erosion

Photo credit: Confraria do Figo da Índia

Opuntias in Somalia!:

I have created a Facebook group called “OPUNTIA AMBASSADORS” :

Any person, young and old, wanting to contribute to the improvement of our environment and to the production of edible plants by planting pads of edible spineless cacti is hereby invited to become a member of the OPUNTIA AMBASSADORS group.  We want to promote the growing of the spineless variety of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis).

Planting the spineless Opuntia ficus-indica var. inermis – 12715399_935545763200038_8914140578767221907_n.jpg

Recently I received a message from Nelson Ventura who shared a Confraria do Figo da Índia‘s post, showing people in Somalia planting the prickly pear cactus on sand dunes, thus protecting the dunes from wind erosion.

This cactus is not only halting wind erosion, but produces edible pads (nopales) and pads that can be used as fodder, but also juicy fruits -12670270_935545789866702_728932352443869154_n

We know that the spiny variety of the prickly pear can be a real nuisance, an invasive species, difficult to destroy.  But that negative aspect is not valid for the spineless variety (var. inermis).  Thousands of hectares of these spineless cacti are grown in huge plantations in Central- and South America, where people enjoy very much the “nopales” (see Google).  Why should people in Africa or Asia not enjoy the same “edible” plants?

Easy planting on a sand dune – 12717187_935545746533373_1181291879201400306_n


It looks like a fantastic technique to protect the soil.  I am tempted to recommend this method to all the countries suffering from this global erosion problem.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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