Best Ideas 2020 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Using cacti as a nutritional food for people and animals, and other uses for community growth
Explain your idea in details:
Explore this versatile plant's uses to reduce hunger. Consider Opuntia sp. as an income source for community growth. Teach people how to grow their own cacti as a supplement to feed their livestock or to add it to their diets. Suggest Prickly pears as a means to help women and migrants in vulnerable situations get financial independence. Cultivating Prickly pears offer many benefits to women, migrants, and children to have better future. People can learn to grow cacti for personal use; or, entrepreneurs can see the potential for mass producing Opuntia; thus, creating more job positions. These cacti consume little water, resist drought and are naturally pest resistant. Even if they become infested with Cochineals (Dactylopius coccus) and growers do not have the goal to produce dye out of their eggs, it is easy and sustainable to remove them with water and soap. It is probably one of the few plants that offer so many benefits with few setbacks. Some cultivars are particularly prickly, hence the name. But for every setback, this cactus offers opportunities. Needles cacti can be also used as fences to secure farm animals. These needles are removed by hand or with tools (like scissors) for animal or human consumption. Or, there are Spineless varieties (i.e. Opuntia ellisiana), which are more palatable to animals without further treatment. Another setback is water: Too much water in their bases produces rot. So, in case of flooding, people should be able to asexually reproduce cacti to save their production. As an edible product, Opuntia ficus-indica, mainly, can be consumed as salads, fruits, liquors, jams, etc. These can be raw or cooked. It is also a source of forage and water. It contains 80% water which can be a source of food and water for farm animals, wildlife, and humans.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
Reduce hunger where harsh environmental conditions make difficult for crops cultivation and raising farm animals. Prevent children from age 2 onwards to starve or suffer malnutrition with the consequent physical problems it entails. Give people another source of food and water for their animals and themselves. Use the many uses these cacti have to further economic growth. Help vulnerable people, especially women and migrants, become self-sufficient with Prickly pears as a complement to their diets and as an opportunity to have extra income. Avoid wasting natural resources or polluting them with pesticides. Opuntia does not need much water and it can grow organically regarding pest or disease control. Consider the possibility of including cactarios or cactary (a mass of cacti) to feed wildlife during dry seasons and to offer refuge to migrating species. Cactarios can also be used with aesthetic purposes. Explore the use of cactus cladodes to generate biomass and biofuels. Look for and implement ancient use of Opuntia in native civilizations as dye and building material. Teach people how to cultivate and reproduce cacti: Both sexually and asexually. Analyze the costs / benefits relationship of growing Prickly pears for economic growth and mass production. Find other uses for flower cultivation: Honey, floriculture, etc. Explore the uses of these cacti as traditional native American medicine, especially in Mexico and Peru. Analyze the environmental impact of Cacti industrialization: Products derived from cactus: Drinks, jams, meals, etc. Use of water and energy. Use them for protection in building as fences. Use this project to empower people and this miraculous plant!
Plans for implementation and sustainability
Plan: First, we need to determine the use of the cactary. If it is going to be for food, dye, biomass, etc. I think food / dye is not a good association because Cochineals are needed to feed on the cacti. Dye / biomass is a good choice; as well as, food and biomass. Second, we need to train people on how to handle, grow, plant and cultivate cacti. Soil: We need a patch of soil: It can be sandy or clay. It can have rocks and it can be mixed. Prickly pears are not picky about soil. Material: I have the material to asexually reproduce cacti with needles and without them. Prepare the soil for the cladodes to be planted. Water them. Wait Cacti produce fruits in summer. Harvest the fruits and classify them according to their consumption: Raw fruit or industrialized (liquors, jams, juice, etc.) Cladodes can be harvested at any time of the year. (Cutting them near spring may cause the plant not generating fruits). They should also be classified according to their use. All unwanted or unused parts of the plant can be processed as compost, biomass or re-used to asexually reproduce cacti if possible. We need a factory to produce Opuntia byproducts. We need a place to store products and byproducts. We also need people to offer the products in the market.
I am 32 years old, soon 33. I live in Argentina and my ancestors have so many nationalities that I am a literal salad. My grandmother's brother (we call him Uncle Miguel) is a Medical Doctor and a religious man who participated in many volunteering programs and missions in Africa, Europe and America. One of the main problems he had to deal with (he is retired now) was malnutrition. Literally children, especially girls, died in his arms because food was scarce, among other cultural issues. I want to help change the world with this wild idea. Maybe it is idealistic to believe that my idea can destroy Hunger, but it is a step to fight it. I studied at university to become a teacher (I graduated with a Bc. in Humanities) and then I went on studying gardening and floriculture (I am a thesis away from getting my degree!). During my senior year studying cacti in general, I discovered that Prickly pears did not have as many uses in Argentina as they do in other countries. In Argentina there are provinces with people suffering hunger and many other problems. Femicides are a plague; and poverty escalates every year. I think this miraculous plant can save many lives and improve vulnerable people's lifestyles. Not only in Argentina, but in many dry areas where harsh climatic conditions or changing weather can dictate whether a community suffers hunger and death or not.