As the world’s arid lands occupy 3,400 million hectares, there is a pressing need for applied research to create technology packages for Indian species of Prosopis, mainly Khejari in the sand desert for plant genetic improvement thornless, erect, fast growing, insect/disease resistant and high production. appetizing pods. For this, the integration of Prosopis into carbon sequestration/global climate change programs is essential.
World-renowned plant scientist and biotechnologist Dr. Peter Felker, known as the “Mesquite Man” in the United States. Speaking to SNS, he defined Prosopis as an empowering forest resource in the service of science. Being a heat-tolerant nitrogen-fixing desert food legume, it is beneficial to mankind. Mesquite is a common name for several species of plants in the genus Prosopis. It contains more than 40 species of small leguminous trees.
The world’s drylands of 3,400 million hectares are home to 800 million people in countries with the lowest per capita income, education, health standards and prone to mass starvation and animal mortality in due to low rainfall. Dr. Felker who is now the President of Casa de Mesquite and is building a factory in Argentina to produce international food grade flour from the pulp of Prosopis pods with the aim of improving the living conditions of these unfortunate people.
Not only is rainfall low, but the soils also contain 10 times less carbon, nitrogen and inherent fertility than temperate agricultural land. Unlike potassium, calcium or phosphorus, nitrogen does not exist as a mineral in the soil but is an essential element for proteins and the growth of living matter. Prosopis is a legume capable of regenerating soils by fixing nitrogen.
Dr. Peter Felker and Maria Cecilia Puppo, Senior Scientist of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and UNLP in Argentina, recently published a book titled: Prosopis As A Heat-Tolerant Nitrogen Fixing Desert Food legume: Prospects for Economic Development published by Academic Press (USA). This book contained research chapters from a group of Indian scientists including Dr. Gurbachan Singh of GSFRED, Karnal and Dr. JC Tiwari of CAZRI, Jodhpur.
Elaborating on the importance of Propsopis (Mesquite) as a heat-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing desert food legume, Dr. Felker said: “There can be no carbon sequestration without nitrogen because the C/N ratio is 12. In arid lands, only 2 kg of nitrogen comes into the ecosystem each year in the form of precipitation. If only 2 kg go in, only 2 kg can go out. As Prosospis fixes 50 kg of nitrogen per hectare, this means 600 kg of C-sequestered per year. Given the huge surface area of drylands, 600 kg/ha per year is a significant amount on a global scale. I think nitrogen fixers in the world are the fastest and most cost effective way to sequester carbon.”
Prosopis, an empowering forest resource in the service of science for humanity, is said to provide nitrogen for intercropping or pasture to dramatically improve crop yields or livestock carrying capacities. Unlike Argentina, which has several large germplasm collections of P. alba, P. chilensis and P. flexuosa, there is no single representative P. pallida seed collection in Peru that can be field tested. in areas that need it most. nitrogen, food and feed across Latin America, Haiti, Sahelian Africa and the Indian subcontinent, according to Dr. Felker.
Keen to build more ecologically and economically sustainable arid ecosystems for a more peaceful world, Felker, who has Prosopis genetic material across countries, says, “Peace is a very precious commodity. We scientists who are well fed, clothed and sheltered and privileged not to be far from our families in armed conflict, would do well to devote some of our scientific energies to solving poverty in the drylands. As General Colin Powell, former Chief of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, said, “the war on terrorism is linked to the war on poverty”.
Dr. Felker and Dr. Puppo, providing knowledge through their book, also discussed the potential for alleviating poverty eradication and stabilizing ecosystems in Sahelian Africa by Peruvian Prosopis, from applied genetic research to asexual reproduction, molecular markers, plantation establishment and management techniques for both wood and pods (covers that allow mechanized harvesting of pods) and intercropping/grazing.
They suggest developing markets for ground Prosopis pods for livestock feed, woodchips from small diameter (