Università degli Studi di Palermo

Greetings!

This is the fifth issue of the cactusnet newsletter focused on the use of Opuntias as a forage crop. I am indebted with Ali Nefzaoui for his cooperation and with everyone who prepared the manuscripts presented herein. Why forage? Simply because this is by far the most important use of the cactus pear plant, in North Africa and South America, but also in Mexico and South Africa. We can guess that more than 1,000,000 ha of specialised plantations exist worldwide, not considering the uses of rangelands with naturalised plantations. You will find information on diet composition and nutritive values of cladode pads used as fodder or forage for cattle, sheep and goats. You will also find practical information on plantation lay-out in Mexico and North Africa.For example, Felker reports a WUE of 162 kg water/kg dry matter for O. ellisiana, with 170,000 kg/ha of water stored in the cladodes of a 4-years-old plantation, sufficient for 4315 days of feed per cow
 

This, better than anything else, explains why cactus pear is such an important source of food and water in arid areas. Much has happened since the Palermo meeting in 1994, and we will have a new GC after the general meeting that will be held next October in Tunisia (Hammamet), in conjunction with the 4th International Congress on Cactus Pear and Cochineal, hosted by A. Nefzaoui (nefzaoui.ali@iresa.agrinet.tn). I just want to thank all the network members and particularly the Members of the Board and the invaluable network-maker E. Arias, for their cooperation and continuous assistance. We have organised several regional meetings (Angola, Argentina, Chile, Italy, Mexico, Peru) on different topics (postharvest, genetic resources, cochineal, forage, fruit production). We also organised, in South Africa, the 3rd Int. Congress with ISHS and the 3rd General Meeting of the Network. Not to mention the editorial activity with one book edited by FAO (FAO paper 132), the Descriptor List, the proceedings of regional and international meetings (Acta Hort. 438), the book on forage prepared by the Feed Animal Production and Health (AGA) and the Plant Production and Protection (AGP) Divisions of FAO in collaboration with the members of the CACTUSNET. P.S. Nobel is also editing for the California University Press a new book on cacti that involves, as senior authors, many of our members. New challenges will be faced and new countries will hopefully join us in the next future.

Prof. Paolo Inglese

Editor- General Coordinator CACTUSNET

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