Economic analysis of Prosopis juliflora utilization and management practices in Ethiopia
The invasive Prosopis juliflora plant is known to cause environmental and economic damages on invaded ranges. High invasive species eradication costs have swayed developing countries to follow a new and less expensive approach known as control through utilization. However, the pros and cons of this new approach have not been thoroughly tested. Our objective was to identify P. juliflora eradication and utilization methods practiced in Afar (Ethiopia), and assess their economic feasibility. We identified three major P. juliflora eradication and utilization practices, and collected primary data by interviewing 19 enterprise owners. We recorded the production and management steps of all enterprises, and estimated their costs and returns. We assessed the economic feasibility of the enterprises by performing enterprise, break-even, investment, sensitivity, and risk analyses (interest rate, i=10%, and number of years, n=10).
We found that converting P. juliflora invaded lands into irrigated farms (conversion) is economically profitable with Net Present Value (NPV) of 101,543 Birr (5,234 US$)/ ha. Conversion reduces the spread of P. juliflora in farmlands. Managing P. juliflora infested lands for charcoal production with a four-year harvest cycle is profitable, with NPV of 15,624 Birr (805 US$)/ ha. However, the production process needs regulation to protect native plants from illegal exploitation. Caution should also be taken to prevent charcoal production sites from becoming potential seed sources. Producing P. juliflora flour for animal feed purposes was un-profitable. Flour production can reduce new invasions by destroying viable P. juliflora seeds. Conversion and charcoal production can be undertaken with small investment costs, while flour production requires high investment costs. Introducing new changes in the production and management steps of P. juliflora flour might be considered to make the enterprise profitable.
Key words: animal feed, charcoal, control through utilization, irrigated farming, P. juliflora, profitability