BIOMTCO AND CACTUS PROJECT

Fresno, CA

USA

Over the past five years, we have been working to make cactus pear (one of the arid plants which can be grown successfully in poor soil and little water (of poor quality).

1. We started with Dr. Gabriela Romano, Ph.D., Curator and Mr. Jerry Sirimian at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service, National Arid Land Plant Genetic Resources Unit, Parlier, CA., where there is an experimental farm of approximately 140 varieties of cactus. We collected the most suitable ones whose fruits and pads could be used for food for human and animal consumption. During this period, we selected six from the USDA-ARS for development and three varieties (beneficial for the treatment of diabetes) collected from different desert areas which were started from scratch in our tissue culture lab.

2. Created a tissue culture laboratory (developed in cooperation and with the guidance of Dr. Liberato Portillo, PhD., and Dr. Ana Lilia Vigueras, of the University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico. A quick tour of our facility is shown in the pictures with captions explaining the process.

3. Built greenhouses with temperature control to grow the small plants from the laboratory in preparation of planting in the field.

4. Planted two acres of cactus plants.

5. Developing a cactus pear salad dressing with the assistance of Dr. Salam A. Ibrahim, Research Professor of Food Sciences at the Food Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory of North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

 

BIOMTCO CACTUS PROJECT View media preparation lab Balance in preparation lab View media preparation lab View of media preparation lab View of media preparation lab Flow cabinet moving plants Flow cabinet moving plants Incubation room Incubation room Incubation room Incubation room Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Greenhouse Adult cactus Adult cactus Xoconostle cactus Xoconostle cactus Baby 3 months Baby 3 months Adult and infant cactus Xoconostle cactus experimental dethorning machine experimental dethorning machine Dethorning process experimental dethorning machine Dethorning process Squeezing cactus pear to make juice BIOMTCO Cactus Pears
  • BIOMTCO CACTUS PROJECT
  • View media preparation lab
  • View media preparation lab
  • View media preparation lab
  • View media preparation lab
  • View media preparation lab
  • Flow cabinet moving plants
  • Flow cabinet moving plants
  • Incubation room
  • Incubation room
  • Incubation room
  • Incubation room
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenhouse
  • Adult cactus
  • Adult cactus
  • Xoconostle cactus
  • Xoconostle cactus
  • Baby 3 months
  • Baby 3 months
  • Adult and infant cactus
  • Baby cactus
  • experimental dethorning machine
  • experimental dethorning machine
  • Dethorning process
  • experimental dethorning machine
  • Dethorning process
  • Squeezing cactus pear to make juice
  • BIOMTCO Cactus Pears

 

AMERICAN FOUNDATION OF PRICKLY PEAR (TEENSHOKI)

Agricultural branch of

MICHAEL TECHNOLOGY CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION

P. O. BOX 9338 FRESNO, CA. 93791

TEL: 559-994-6000 / FAX: 559-493-5575

Prickly pear is, as many other cacti, a species which grows in arid areas and can tolerate high temperatures and salinity. The Middle East and North Africa are the two areas where these conditions exist, and additional sources of food and income are urgently needed by people of low economic means, so MTCO decided to study the possibility of having this species as an economical crop. We understand that other organizations have been working in this direction, but they have not emphasized the importance of the prickly pear. We feel strongly that:

1). With emphasis in choosing the right varieties, prickly pear can be grown as a crop in marginal (arid) areas.

2). Prickly pear can be an export crop.

3). Prickly pear by products can be promoted as having medicinal, cosmetic, and nutritional qualities.

As it appeared, the first and most difficult obstacle in expanding the acceptance of prickly pear fruit is precisely what gives the cactus its name, the spiny fruit, so we researched the best technique to remove the spines. We found that most of the spine removal techniques were developed individually by the producers in each country, and no "brand name company" made them. South Africa was the most advanced in this field, because they not only removed the spines, but washed, dried, waxed, and sized the cactus pear. This is being done in the Tzaneen area in the Transvaal (northeast region of South Africa). We then traveled there and ordered a complete packing line. We will install this line at our facility in Sohag, Upper Egypt. Sohag is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of desert and the government of Egypt is encouraging investors and farmers to develop this land. There is less than an inch of rain annually, and the temperature can get up to 47C in the summer. The winter is still warm and never freezing. The College of Agriculture at the University of Sohag has grown over the last ten years several economical crops including citrus, grapes, figs, pomegranates, and prickly pears. Among all these crops prickly pear was the most successful. The university is planning to expand the two acres now in use for prickly pears to one hundred acres next year.

Recently, we met with Dr. Gabriela Romano, the curator of the National Arid Land Plant Genetic Resource Unit (NALPGRU), which is part of the National Plant Germplasm System (USDA/ARS). Dr. Romano will not only provide plant material, a selection from the over 140 accessions in this site, but will also share with us the data they have on each accession (i.e., fruit, brix, and pH, cladode size, fruit productivity, etc.). Mr. Jerry Serimian, who also works at NALPGRU and has extensive knowledge of prickly pear, will provide information on how to grow, maintain, and propagate this cactus. We will be propagating the selected accessions at greenhouses at our facility in Fresno, California. We will be sharing the samples with anyone interested if they pay shipping and handling.

We are in the process of organization to join the foundation's Sohag project with the Fresno facility. The University of Sohag or the Ministry of Agriculture or private investors are interested in a joint cooperation. Once we have defined the parties that will be involved, we will go forward. At this time, the machinery is installed in Sohag Video of the cactus pear packing line in the same facility as a citrus packing line already in place (developed according to the methods used in an experimental project with the post harvest team at the USDA in Fresno as a joint effort with results in three publications), which will be modified and used for pomegranates as well as citrus.

Therefore, this medium sized facility will be a center for processing fruits (with emphasis on ways to lengthen the storage period), and encouraging others to follow in this direction since there is a need for more processing plants in Upper Egypt. This project will create jobs and help future growers in the new reclamation land in the area.

If you would like more information click on the following publications:

Cactus Pear Publications