Reseach was conducted to determine the knowledge of farmers from the Malawi and Mozambique on the use of cactus (Noppolea Cochenillinifera L. Sam-Dyck) as fodder for small ruminants. The scarcity of rainfall, aridity and seasonal severe droughts that characterize Southern Africa lead to loss of livestock. The use of cactus fodder can hydrate small ruminants and provide feed during dry season. This study was conducted to assess the knowledge of farmer from Malawi and Mozambique on cactus as fodder. The research was conducted in Mzimba, Mchinji and Chikwawa districts (in Malawi) and Manhiça, Changara and Lichinga districts (in Mozambique), where 450 farmers keeping ruminants were surveyed through semi-structured interviews. Each respondent was interviewed alone in Chewa and/or English (in Malawi) and Tsonga, Nyungwe, Yao and/or Portuguese (in Mozambique). During the interview, farmers were shown pictures stuck on a poster and numbered (no name), where they recognized the species, mentioned the local name and shared their experience on cactus as fodder. The legend of the images on the poster were listed on separate page to which farmers did not have access. Respondents were allowed to explain the preparation procedure before cacti were given to animals. They were asked to mention other uses of cactus in their region. Related uses were grouped in terms of frequency of mention. Interviews were recorded as audios on a Samsung Galax J1 cellular phone and a notepad. In addition, a literature search was undertaken in order to find some of the most common species of cactus in Africa (emphasis was given to East and Southern Africa). Images displaying stems, spines, leaves, flowers and fruits of cacti were collected. The study concluded that most farmers and probably other residents from the districts and villages where the present study was conducted knew cactus as medicine, edible fruit, ornament and live fence. The knowledge of cacti as fodder both in Malawi and Mozambique was negligible.
Keywords: cactus; fodder; knowledge; local name.