The Beles or Cactus Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) in Tigray, Ethiopia - Pics
Tigray is in northern Ethiopia, bordering on Eritrea. Desert conditions prevail in the east, changing to semidesert, thorn savanna, and mountain savanna moving westward into the tropical highlands.
[very good but] in those parts of Tigray where it has become invasive [same thing in south africa, good but invasive in some parts makes it a curse and a blessing]
traditional song: "Oh my beles (Opuntia ficus-indica) you spare me this summer till barley has cheerfully come to rescue me"
`Cactus pear is playing a crucial economic role, as a source of food, animal feed, fuel wood, and, in some cases, as a means of additional income, thereby increasing the efficiency and economic viability of small and low-income farmers''.
Tigray covers about 80 000 square km and is estimated to have about 360 000 ha of cactus pear [half planted, half invaded]
The spineless cactus plants are grown in rows and protected from livestock by means of stone walls and/or jute plants (Agave sessalina).
tropical highlands of South Tigray where cactus pear has become invasive
Cactus on its own, or in conjunction with Euphorbia abyssinica (Figure 11), is used as a live fence or hedge
Old, woody and dried cladodes are used as a fuel
In areas where it has become stongly invasive it may become necessary to introduce appropriate control measures. This could be in the form of specific and less drastic biocontrol agents such as Cactoblastis cactorum
Improved selections of saltbush (Atriplex spp), as exist in South Africa, need to be considered as a useful drought-tolerant fodder crop that effectively complements cactus pear as a livestock feed.