Exotic Weed - Energy farming
Prosopis juliflora is a weed, no doubt, it is an agressive plant and competes with local flora. Planting this species along with mangroves and native flora is to be discourage. I have seen the menace of this species (locally known as gando baval = Mad tree).
If planted in strictly closed plots this species can certainly support a lots of good fuel production, honey (bee-keeping in Mesquite forest is very successful) Banni alone produces over 50 tons of Honey/year.
The Prosopis juliflora plots of size 10 hectares to 100 hectares can be developed in wasteland where per hectare 2 persons can be employed. The 24 plots of say 4 hectares can be made and after 2 years of growth (prunning is must for erect growth), each plot of 4 hectares can be harvested mechanically/month from the stem 2 feet above ground. Wood biomass thus produced can be cut and sun dreid and sold to poor peopl and at a low cost and to hoteliers, Dhabas and where ever it is required. A plot thus cut and wood used, get its turn again after 24 months , this time is enough for the regeneration of the Prosopis, it is a coppicing plant.
Such projectrs can support employment of people, Mesquite honey, fooder from the pods, Wood and Charcoal (controll charcaol making where all by products can be used) and minimum smoke is emiited.
A project like this can be called Energy farming and can be done in desert regions of India, Africa and Saudi Arabia where this plant is spreading its roots and behaving like a weed.
The pods can be collected and seeds can be removed from the Prosopis pods, the powder is rich in glucose and fructose, when mixed with mollases, protein oil cake and wheat or Pearl millet husk, it can form a much needed cattle feed,
Prosopis gum is also valuable, this project can really bring down the pressure on our already scant forest in the desert and other regions. because in the want of fuel, poor people just cut asnd chop everything they come across, it is a harsh reality.
I come from Rajasthan Jodhpur small village area and have seen and understood this species from my childhood and have worked in Banni and other regions of Kutch and studied this species its imapct on flora and fauna.
Also seen this growing as a Weed in massawa and other parts on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea, NE Africa while working with Prof Carl Hodges and Beth Hodges.
I am of the strong opinion that weed can become a boon if grown on Energy farming basis on the wastelands. This species does not require irrigation. Two irrigation in the begining period of its first year growth can make this plant establish its roots.
Centre for Desert and Ocean
village Moti Virani
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