Enset: The tree against hunger

According to different researches and reports, the indigenous Ethiopian food plant Enset embraces the basic nutrients gained from variety of foods. Ethiopia is suitable for growing diversified plant species.

It is varied agro-ecological systems and the environment also enables growing the important crop items including Teff, tasty coffee, Enset, among others. The report indicated that Enset could lonely feed millions of Ethiopians if developed and harvested carefully.

Most importantly, Enset’s capacity to withstand drought, can be planted or harvested at any time of year, and its bountiful production makes it preferable plant among farmers of the Sothern part of the country. Enset is an African crop that currently provides the staple food for more than 20 million Ethiopians. However, the country being rich with diversified crop and plant species has been struggling to ensure its food security and sustainable development.

Numerous households in the rural part of the country still face challenges to meet their food demand amid the availabilities of potential natural resources. The country embraces one of the largest suitable arable lands in the world.

Its fertile soil that is suitable to grow varieties of crops, untapped water resources, vegetation, and climatic condition are expected to end poverty within a short period if utilized properly.

However, the health and economic potential of the crop as well as its greater contribution to end hunger and poverty is less unknown or it is understudied. Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) Former Director General and Agricultural Expert Tsedeke Abate (PhD) said that Enset is Ethiopia’s ancient traditional food staple mostly in the Southern part.

It is rich with important nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Thus, it gives us the basic nutrients that our body needs. It lonely embraces all the nutrients that we acquire from all other food items we eat. Ethiopians’ nutrient and protein consumption is lower compared to other countries.

There are also lower consumptions of milk, meat, fruit, and vegetables in the country. However, consuming Enset widely will help balance and substitute our nutrient and protein need, he underscored.

According to him, Africa needs to prioritize its indigenous crops to harvest more and ensure food self-sufficiency. There are numerous indigenous crop species in different African countries. Ethiopia’s Enset is among the top nutritious, fruitful, and productive source of food. More assignments are left ahead to harness the full potentials of this crop, Enset.

Comprehensive works should be done starting from setting new policies on promoting its production and productivity. Ethiopian Enset farmers are still harvesting it through the ancient harvesting practices. However, the way of planting and consuming Enset is spreading fast to other parts of the country and well adapted by the neighbouring farmers of the Southern Ethiopia and the Oromos.

“Currently, the society is well aware of the importance of Enset in the food system. The improvement of Enset production and productivity will determine the future of Ethiopia and its endeavours towards realizing food security.

Enset also maintains unlimited roles to the environmental protection.” Transforming the local harvesting and processing systems to a modern way, undertaking successive researches on Enset, and giving due attention for the plant will have significant impacts towards ending poverty from the land of Ethiopia, he recommended.

According to researches, Enset is underexploited African plant resources that could help broaden and secure Africa’s food supply. It could be easily cultivated; and requires lower water for growing. It can help overcome malnutrition, improve food security, foster rural development, and create sustainable land care in Ethiopia. The National Academy of Science 2006, Lost Crops of Africa; indicated that vegetables play fundamental roles to overcome malnutrition.

These days there is increasing appreciation for vegetables. Evidence is raising on all sides that lack of vegetables increases susceptibility to infection and disease as well as to stunted physical and mental growth.

Vegetables also help palliate the scourge of Africa’s major health problems that are today exacerbated by the lack of a balanced diet. By and large, vegetables supply dietary elements in which other food materials are deficient. In view of this, Enset in the farming system contributes significantly to the stability of the food supply in several ways.

It can be stored for long periods, be harvested at any time during the year, harvested at any stage over a several year period, and survive stress years that reduce other food sources.

During the 1984-85 famine, when cereal farmers from southwestern Ethiopia migrated from their villages in search of food, they learned how to cultivate and process Enset. Returning home, they introduced Enset agriculture, and kocho became an important part of their diet.

Accordingly, the ability to provide a long-term, sustainable food supply, with minimum offfarm input, is probably the most noteworthy characteristic of Enset, In sum, low attention has been given to Enset productions in the past decades. However, the government has been taking different measures to boost Enset production and productivity in the past few years.

Currently, the rural householders are cultivating Enset and consuming it in their daily diet. The urban residents are also attracted with traditional staples while the numbers of traditional restaurants are rising in Addis Ababa and other big cities. Today, having Enset foods and other traditional culinary on different ceremonial occasions become common and is an honour to every get-together.


The Ethiopian   26 February  2022

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