How to Start Cactus Farming in India

What is Cactus Farming?

Cactus Farming is nothing but the cultivation of cactus. There are many benefits of cactus in our daily life. However, many farmers and Agri entrepreneurs are unaware of the benefits and profits of cactus farming. Therefore, we have come up with this article on guide to cactus farming. The demand for cactus farming is increasing rapidly due to its unique characteristics. There is still much scope for the development and cultivation of cactus in India.

Almost all the parts of the cactus plants are useful. The fruits and leaves are used for human consumption. The cactus plants are used as the best fodder crop for feeding cattle in the livestock segment. Parts of cactus plants are used as a raw material for various industries to prepare adhesives, plywood, glue, soaps, and dyes. In addition, cactus is also used in manufacturing pharmaceutical products for treating hypoglycemia, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, obesity and various other disorders. Further cactus also used in cosmetic industries to prepare various cosmetic products like shampoo, body creams, body lotions, etc.

What is Cactus

                Cactus is a xerophytic plant that means it can grow well in drought areas or water stress conditions. The origin of Cactus is India. It grows up to a height of 5 to 7 meters and width up to 3 to 5 meters. Economical parts of the plant are fruits and thick and broad leaves. Cactus plants may be thornless or with thorns. Leaves are broad that store water and known as pads. The pads may contain spines of 2 to 2.5 cm. The fruits of Cactus are known as prickle pear which is valuable than any other part of the cactus plant.

Scientific name of cactus plant: Opuntia ficus indica

Vernacular/ other names of cactus:

  • Green gold,
  • fruit for the poor,
  • treasure under its spines,
  • world vegetable dromedary,
  • future plant,
  • sacred plant  
  • monster tree

Health Benefits of Cactus

  • Cactus is a rich source of antioxidants.
  • They protect the nerve cells and also antiviral for the human body.
  • It regulates the blood sugar levels and also treats enlarged prostate glands.
  • Cactus also reduces cholesterol levels in the human body.
  • In addition, it also eliminates the hangover.

Advantages of Cactus farming

There are many benefits of cactus farming. The first and foremost advantage is cactus farming requires less water or no water. The boom of cactus cultivation is increasing rapidly. The cactus farmer can use the cactus plant parts as multipurpose like fruits for human consumption, leaves for the livestock feed. Cactus pads are used as traditional medicine It is also used in the manufacturing of jellies and jams.

Guava farming – package of practices

How to start Cactus farming

Cactus farming – planting/ propagation

It is easy to start cactus farming. Any part of the plant leaves is cut and planted in the soil. One year cutting of the mother cactus plants is better rather than second-year mother plant cuttings. Cactus planting is done during late spring or early summer seasons.  Cactus is grown well at a spacing of 6m × 6 m (278 plants/ha) to 4m × 6 m (416plants/ha). In addition, deeper planting is best for cactus planting.

Intercultural practices in cactus cultivation

Drip irrigation is best and better for cactus farming. However, watering is done once or twice in a month. However, the cactus fruit size depends upon the water supply. Weeding is done depending upon the weed intensity.

 Nutrient management  Cactus farming

Recommended fertilizer dosage for cactus cultivation is as follows (kg/ha)

Nutrient element (kg) 1st year 2nd year 3rd year 4th year
N 50 50 70 100
P 10 10 20 30
K 20 20 30 50
Mg 10 10 20 40

Cactus farming Yield

On average, cactus fruit yield is up to 1 ton/ha/ year. However, it may increase to 25 ton/ha/year if adequate irrigation is given.

Harvesting of prickle pear in cactus farming

Cactus fruits and pads are harvesting by wearing thick hand gloves and eyeglasses. Harvesting is done during the morning. Cactus leaf pads are harvested when they attain big enough size. Fruits are harvested when they attain pale yellowish-green color for distant marketing and reddish color for local marketing.

Post-harvest management in cactus farming

Fruits are packed on the day of harvest. Cactus fruits are stored at 60C – 100C. The grading of cactus fruits varies from region to region.

Marketing of cactus fruits and Cactus leaves (Cactus pads)

Cactus pads are used for livestock mostly. Cactus fruits are marketed to various industries which are given above. However, the market value of cactus is on its rise nowadays. However, there is more need for cactus commercialization in the Indian markets.

Conclusion: This is all about cactus farming. However, comment below for more details.

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