Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia Ficus-Indica) the Beles in Ethiopia: A Review on Nutritional Aspects and Health Benefits


  • Gargi Dhar



Beles, Ethiopia, Health Benefits, Nutritional Aspects, Prickly Pear Cactus


Background: Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntiaficus-indica) is the cactus species of greatest agronomic
importance, due to its delicious fruits, stems (cladodes), which are used as fodder for livestock as well
as a fruit and vegetable for human consumption. This cactus was introduced in Ethiopia 150 yrs before,
locally known as Beles. The chemical, nutritional composition, and health benefits of cactus pears have
been extensively studied. But the documented research evidence related to the nutrient content of the
Ethiopian variety is very less and the study on health benefits is almost nil. Climate changes, drought, high
temperatures, and changes in soil productivity are threatening human civilization in terms of food scarcity
in Ethiopia. In this context, there is an urgent need to re-explore and promote Ethiopian Prickly Pear, an
indigenous cactus as a supportive food for drought-prone areas in Ethiopia with enlightening the potential
health benefits of cactus fruit and stem.
Method: This work is based on the reports of the United Nations, local Government, and Non-Government
organizations, research articles, conference proceedings, books, and unpublished theses.
Conclusion: The review identified the gap between the knowledge and the practice in the use of this cactus
in Ethiopia. It is recommended that along with administrative and social support; production and utilization
can be enhanced to address human and livestock needs.

Author Biography

Gargi Dhar

Assistant Professor, Department of Reproductive Health and Nutrition, School of Public Health,
Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia



How to Cite

Gargi Dhar. (2021). Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia Ficus-Indica) the Beles in Ethiopia: A Review on Nutritional Aspects and Health Benefits. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 12(2), 131-138.