1. Agriculture World

Is Ethiopia's Enset a Climate Change 'Wondercrop'?

According to scientists, the plant ‘Enset’- a staple in Ethiopia, could be a new superfood and a lifesaver in the face of climate change. Outside of Ethiopia, where it is used to make porridge and bread, the plant is almost unknown.

Shivam Dwivedi
Enset or False Banana
Enset or False Banana

According to scientists, the plant ‘Enset’- a staple in Ethiopia, could be a new superfood and a lifesaver in the face of climate change. Outside of Ethiopia, where it is used to make porridge and bread, the plant is almost unknown.

Findings of Research:

As per a new study, the banana-like crop has the potential to feed more than 100 million people in a warming world. The research is published in ‘Environmental Research Letters.’ According to it, the crop can be grown over a much larger area in Africa.

"This is a crop that has the potential to play a critical role in addressing food security and sustainable development," said Dr. Wendawek Abebe of Hawassa University in Awasa, Ethiopia.

Enset, also known as "False Banana," is a close relative of the banana that is only consumed in one region of Ethiopia. The plant's banana-like fruit is poisonous, but the starchy stems and roots can be fermented and used to make porridge and bread.

Enset is a staple in Ethiopia, where approximately 20 million people rely on it for food, but it has not been cultivated elsewhere, despite the fact that wild relatives - which are not considered edible - grow as far south as South Africa, implying that the plant can tolerate a much wider range.

Scientists predicted the potential range of enset over the next four decades using agricultural surveys and modeling work. They discovered that the crop has the potential to feed more than 100 million people and improve food security in Ethiopia and other African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Planting Enset as a buffer crop for lean times, according to study researcher Dr. James Borrell of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, could help boost food security.

"It has some really unusual characteristics that make it absolutely unique as a crop," he explained. "It can be planted at any time, harvested at any time, and is perennial. That's why it's known as the "hunger tree."

Ethiopia is a major crop domestication centre in Africa, producing coffee and a variety of other crops. Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on the yields and distribution of staple food crops throughout Africa and beyond.

Given our reliance on a few staple crops, there is a growing interest in discovering new plants to feed the world. Rice, wheat, and maize account for nearly half of all calories consumed.

"We need to diversify the plants we use globally as a species because all of our eggs are currently in a very small basket," Dr. Borrell said.

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