The Research and Development Division of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has organized, in association with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Farmers' Services Centre, a field day on cactus fodder cultivation at the Bani Yas Research Station. Around 40 agricultural guides and leading farmers from the region took part in the event.
The objective of the event was to introduce the participants to the importance of cactus fodder cultivation, its benefits and methods. Cactus fodder is one of the most suitable feeds for dry environs because it is capable of conserving water and using it during dry seasons and growing in shallow and low quality soil. It is a fodder plants that requires very little water.
The participants were briefed on the many benefits of cactus fodder. It is used in feed mixtures, after cutting and drying its sheets. It is rich in proteins to the tune of 13% and contains fiber and minerals. Cactus fruits contain rich nutritional value, vitamins, salts and can be consumed fresh or dry. They can also be made into juice, edible oils. Cactus also has medicinal properties. It can be used in fencing farms.
The participants were also briefed on the ways in which the nutritional quality of cactus fodder can be improved by adding farm and industrial wastes and producing forage cubes. These will improve the digestive system of animals. The manufacturing of these is very simple and does not need advanced tools and can be done inside the farm itself.
As part of the cooperation between ADFCA and ICARDA, the Baniyas Research Station has cultivated 40 types of cactus fodder. This was part of a research project to evaluate their growth patterns, productivity, immunity to diseases, water consumption and other qualities. Those varieties found suitable will be passed on to the farmers.
The project is deemed an ambitious one aimed at the best utilization of farm land, improvement in the farmers' income and hassle-free fodder cultivation. It is in line with the strategy of ADFCA in regard to water conservation in farming and sustainability. The new crops found suitable will replace the Rhodes grass whose cultivation was banned recently on account of being water-intensive.