Vol. 5, Issue 1 (2020)
Introduction of carmine cochineal to Northern Ethiopia, Current status of infestation on Cactus Pear, and Control Measures
Author(s): Yemane Kahsay Berhe, Kiros Meles Aymut, Berhane Lema Gebremariam, Haftay Gebreyesus Gebreziher, Zinabu Hailu Siyum
Abstract: The importance of cactus pear (Opuntia ficus indica) to the arid environment made it famous in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, as source of food and feed, source of income and used as soil and water conservation plant. In some parts of Tigray, it becomes a substitute of staple diet demand of the community for four to five months serving as a life-saving crop to humans and animals. Cactus pear comprises about 25% of rural households’ income. It has been neglected in research and development for a long time. Only recently, there are some development works on expansion of plantation, diversification of utilizations and establishment of research institutions. However, currently the plant is suffering from attack of an exotic insect pest, Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), since 2011, which was introduced for the purpose of carmine production. Infestation by carmine cochineal increased from 3.8 ha in 2011 to 75000 ha in 2019 which indicate that the infestation is expanding at an alarming rate. This review article deals with the introduction of carmine cochineal to Tigray, its consequences in terms of status of infestation, control methods, production status and prospects on the contribution of cactus pear for sustainable agricultural production in the region.