VLIRUOS Enset Team Project ends; Innovative Enset project takes off

VLIRUOS Enset Team Project ends; Innovative Enset project takes off

AMU has hosted VLIRUOS Enset Team Project’s closing ceremony while kicked off new project called, Innovative Enset Technology for Gentle Processing, Value-added Products, Safe Storage and Longer Shelf-life’ at New Auditorium, Main Campus from 21st to 22nd January, 2020. Click here to see the pictures

Opening the event, AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza, said, Enset is important crop that will ensure food security; it’s food, feed and medicine that play crucial role in reducing land degradation. And being climate-resilient crop, it can be harvested any time in Ethiopian highlands. He urged the gathering to establish research network that will support Enset growers and advance its process technologically.

PhD scholar, Mr Sabura Shara, on VLIRUOS Enset project said, I found agro-ecology to be the causative factor; Gamo highlands that has high gradients of agro-ecology show faster wilt provenance which we observed during farm observation and field trials. Therefore, optimum nutrient management and sanitary measures are must. We informed farmers about early symptoms like curling of tips, breaking of lamina from both sides and midriff, so sick plants must be removed to control wilt. And developing tissue culture plants and Enset Park Cooperative can make available hygienic seedlings and other materials to tackle it.

Dr Addisu Fekadu, informed while working on fermentation, we developed three starter cultures of lactic acid; previously in Gamo, we had to wait for two months to obtain food from Enset; now newly developed techniques have curtailed it down to 15 days. This Innovative Enset project takes up things from where VLIRUOS Enset project has left.

He adds, in collaboration with Ethiopian Bio-Technology Institute (EBTi) and Worabe Polytechnic College we could develop corm milling; pseudo-stem scrapping, squeezing machines and fermentation jar which are open for modifications. And in next 3 years, we will produce these machines, have pilot testing of starters and if it will be successful, then we will produce starter and machines on large scales in Gamo, Gedeo, Hadiya Guraghe and Sidama zones and in Oromia region as they produce Enset on large scales.

Dr Jozef Seppe Deckers, gracing the event said, Enset project has two main objectives, first is about agronomy and diseases that occur as the consequences of certain practices in finding answer to wilting disease; whereas second is about ‘kocho’ and ‘bulla’ processing.

Elaborating deeper, he adds, most of the time products taste bad due to invasion of diseases which enter the dough and it’s often attacked by bacteria that spoil 40% of it. But in the new project, the researchers have identified good bacteria and better starter culture for fermentation that will decimate invading germs. And with new sealed jar and three machines we can reduce 40% loss to nil and taste will be predictable.

Most importantly, he said, new technology is within the reach of farmers that curtail fermentation period from 2 months to 15 days. It will help produce good product, fetch higher prize and if the quality of the product is standardized, Ethiopia may export it. He revealed traditional fermentation process has afflicted many people with disease in small villages for sometimes they get toxic germs that enter in the system. If they aren’t clever to throw that loss and preserve what is healthy, then you are producing poisonous food.

The project proposal in its Techno-Economic analysis carried out by Nice Solutions PLC in five regions shows people’s willingness to adopt and buy new machines in a group; it will facilitate high quality of Enset products and ensure food security, generate jobs, and possibly create foreign exchange, Dr Addisu averred.

The designs of prototypes of three proposed machines were on display; thereafter gathering mulled over machines’ designs and discussed way forward. Officials from Ethiopian Bio-Technology Institute, AMU, stakeholders and others were in attendance; local promoter of phased-out VLIRUOS Enset Team Project, Dr Fassil Eshetu, anchored the program.