Although the cactus species, opuntia ficus-indica, was introduced to Morocco in the 16th century following the discovery of the American continent, it has adapted to local climatic conditions and has played a pivotal role in surviving famines throughout the centuries, particularly the famine of 1927 in Southwest Morocco.
Cactus is an economic asset for the communities, it contributes to fighting against soil-erosion and the preservation of local species of insects. However, the appearance of the Mealybug, Dactylopius Opuntiae, in Morocco in 2014 and its devastating spread in other regions of the south (reported in the project area in 2018), the damage this Mealybug has caused is worsening and endangering thousands of hectares, threatening not only the ecological balance of the entire ecosystem, but equally depriving the local populations from a major source of income.
With its technical partners, community beneficiary, and with funds from the PNUD, DSH has implemented a small-scale project that uses an integrated biological control process to contain the cactus Mealybug. The adoption of such a solution has halted the use of massive chemical treatments that threaten the biodiversity of Boutimezguida SIBE as well as public health. In this project, we continue to benefit from the involvement of the Moroccan Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA in Agadir), from the support of our private partners, as well as our communities. Our ultimate goal is reaching a natural balance between Mealybug and its predators, providing the communities with ecologically sane means to treat their infected fields, and continue earning a livelihood from the fruits.
Our experimental process is underway and stay tuned as we post our results.