News and knowhow for farmers

University begins cultivating nutrient-dense Ethiopian ‘tree against hunger’

Share on social media

The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has begun growing Cultivated Enset. Commonly called the ‘false banana’, the ‘tree against hunger’ can be cultivated in drought and waterlogged conditions.

Only grown as a domesticated crop in Ethiopia, it is the most important root crop, in the country and is a staple food for more than 20 million people.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted that it provides more foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It estimates that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250–375 square meters can provide enough food for a family of up to 6 people.

According to JKUAT’s Biotechnology Research (IBR) arm that is leading its introduction into Kenya, it doesn’t need fertilizer to grow. While the plant’s fruits are not edible, its roots are an important food source. It can be used for various uses such as food (the root, cassava-like product usually referred to as a corm can weigh up to 200 kilos per tree) that can feed a family of 10 for months.

Its young tissues in the center of the plant from where it grows are nutritious once cooked.

It further explained that Cultivated Enset can be grown in many agro-ecological zones with altitudes ranging between 1500 to 2500 (meaning it can grow in swampy or dry areas) and has the potential to provide sustenance for millions, particularly in regions grappling with the challenges of food insecurity worsened by drought conditions.

Its leaves are a source of livestock fodder and organic manure.

Like bananas, it doesn’t qualify to be a tree but is a giant herb that takes two to five years to mature.

According to Professor Behailu Merdekios– the Deputy Vice President of Research and Industrial Linkage at Arba Minch University in Ethiopia research conducted in Ethiopia has shown that Enset-producing regions do not experience malnutrition.

“Enset has been a friend of Ethiopia in tough times and is the next superfood because it is gluten-free, fiber and mineral-rich. I am delighted at this milestone for Kenya because food can be a tool for diplomacy and promote Pan-Africanism and by sharing these resources we can bring communities together and ease suffering from hunger,” explained Prof. Merdekios.

Read more:

KALRO launches drought resistant rice, doubles basmati yield

JKUAT receives flour fortification machine for training small-scale millers 

JKUAT researchers encourage farmers to grow hybrid Chinese millet

Share on social media

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top