New Delhi, December 23, 2023 : Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh addressed yesterday one day national workshop on “Cactus for Green Economy in Watershed Projects” through Video conferencing. As part of promoting cactus cultivation, Department of Land Resources organized a one day National Workshop at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi on “Cactus for Green Economy in Watershed Projects.
Union Minister Shri Griraj Singh appealed to all the delegates, to make use of this opportunity to bring into existence an ecosystem based upon cactus plantation and its economic uses.
Secretary, DoLR, Shri Ajay Tirkey thanked Union Minister Shri Giriraj Singh for conceptualizing such an innovative idea for enhancing the farmers income and addressing the ecological issues. He also appreciated the efforts of Watershed Division for successfully organizing the national workshop. He further suggested States to organize a similar workshop at State level involving all the stakeholders in a time bound manner.
The workshop helped to bring together various views from experts, entrepreneurs, innovators, representatives of think-tanks, and Government for promotion of Cactus cultivation and its economic usages by facilitating backward & forward linkages.
The Department of Land Resources (DoLR) is implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme namely, Watershed Development Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY). The main objective of the Scheme is to sustainably develop rainfed/degraded lands in the country. The scope of WDC-PMKSY permits taking up suitable plantations of various kinds, which help in restoration of rainfed/degraded lands. Cactus is the hardiest plant species which requires only scanty rainfall for its growth and survival. Accordingly, DoLR is exploring various options for taking up cactus cultivation on rainfed / degraded lands for realizing the benefits for fuel, fertilizer, fodder, leather, food etc. purposes, for the larger benefit of the country and enhancing farmers’ incomes.
On this occasion, DoLR signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ICAR, ICARDA and State Government of Rajasthan on Collaboration in Promotion of Spineless Cactus cultivation and its Economic usages under WDC-PMKSY 2.0.
At present, cactus cultivation is limited to fodder purpose in the country. The various other economic and ecological usages of cactus as explained above needs awareness, publicity and its promotion through facilitating availability of quality plantation material, package of practices on ideal eco-system and marketing avenues. The workshop has greatly helped to bring awareness among various stakeholders and to connect them with each other.
DoLR, has already issued Guidelines for ‘Promotion of Spineless Cactus Cultivation / Plantation in Watershed Projects under WDC-PMKSY’ and circulated to all the States / UT of J&K and Ladakh for taking necessary steps for cultivation of cactus for generation of bio-gas and other usages. A copy of the guidelines was also provided to all delegates who participated in the workshop.
National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala exhibited various items like shoes, bags, jackets, Chappals etc. prepared from cactus leather for the benefit of delegates at the venue of workshop. The juice prepared from cactus fruit and cactus salad were also served for all the delegates.
The workshop aimed at bringing together all stakeholders like Central Government, States/UTs, industry, experts, and to collaborate and design a roadmap for enabling promotion of cactus cultivation in arid and semi arid areas and cactus-based industries for encashing its various economic uses.
Convergence approach was also emphasized upon to make use of SATAT, CBO schemes of MoPNG to make the cactus based CBG plants commercially viable. The policy of Government of India announced on 25th November 2023 about compulsory blending of CBG in natural gas will also promote production and consumption of CBG in the country. State Governments also emphasized that MGNREGS scheme funds may be effectively converged for taking up large scale cactus plantation.
About 200 delegates from 15 State Governments/UTs, senior officers of Central line Ministries/Departments such as MoPNG, MoA&FW MNRE, MoEF&CC, DoRD, Food Processing, relevant Industry representatives, and other reputed research organizations/institutions such as ICAR, IGFRA, ICARDA, CAZRI, NRAA participated in the workshop. Secretary, Joint Secretary (Watershed Management) and other senior officers of watershed Division of Department of Land Resources participated in the workshop. The delegates made presentations and deliberated various issues of cactus cultivation and its economic and ecological uses like production of Compressed Bio-gas, Bio fertilizer, Bio leather, fodder, food, pharmaceutical benefits, carbon credits etc. The participant States also presented their initial readiness plan for taking up cactus cultivation in their respective States, The Industry representatives present during the workshop appreciated the efforts of DoLR and showed keen interest in promoting cactus cultivation & cactus based industries.