Arba Minch University in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Bio and Emerging Technology Institute and others co-hosted the First International Enset Symposium: Towards Global Food and Nutrition Security, from September 1-2/2023. Click here to see more photos.

AMU President Dr. Damtew  Darza in his welcoming remark noted that Enset research is one of the main research, technology transfer and community service area for Arba Minch University. He also added that since Enset is very common and major type of food in many Southern, South Western and Central parts of the country, innovative researches on this crop will have significant contribution to achieve the goal of food security and sustainable development. He further said that similar international gatherings are instrumental to create collaboration with different national and international organizations including the private sectors in order to expand and advance the scientific and technology based endeavors of AMU in the field.

Guest of Honor, H.E Mr. Usman Surur, Head for Central Ethiopia Regional State Bureau of Agriculture, said that Enset has a fundamental contribution to overcome poverty by ensuring national food security and speeding up the development. He also noted that Enset as an indigenous crop is used as staple food by 20-30 percent of Ethiopian population for daily consumption. H.E Mr Surur said that the crop has not received the attention it deserves so that it has facing many problems.  In order to overcome the challenges of climate change and food and nutrition imbalance which may be the next major challenge of the globe in general and our country in particular, we should work in coordination to expand Enset agriculture, increase its productivity, and solve the bottlenecks in the supply and distribution of post-production technology, he urged.

Research and Community Engagement VP of AMU, Behailu Merdekios, Associate Professor, Presented AMU's Journey of Research and Community Engagement on Enset. According to his presentation, establishment of Enset Park at Dorze, development of Enset processing machines, replacement of Enset fermentation soil pit to modern jars and establishment of Enset processing pilot plant are the major research and community engagement achievements of AMU in the field.

In his keynote address, Ambassador Prof. Admasu Tsegaye, a Former President of Addis Ababa University, noted that Enset is a climate-resilient crop with traits such as drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance, ability to sequester carbon, low soil fertility requirement, and adaptability to changing environments. Despite all these positive characteristics, Enset has received less research attention than cereal-based cropping systems, he noted.

He further added that promoting sustainable Enset farming practices, developing a strategy to broaden the variety of Enset-based products, launching focused public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about nutritional advantages of the crop, mobilizing knowledge and resources to carry out research and development work on the Enset farming system, promoting the participation of the private sector to make investments on starch extraction, value added-food production and Enset processing facilities are instrumental to be done from all stakeholders to address the challenges related with Enset production and productivity to properly utilize its untapped potential.

Dr. Addisu Fekadu, a Bio-technologist and Coordinator for Enset Project in Arba Minch University, said that Enset crop has a good resistance to drought and can be harvested at any time of year. According to Dr. Addisu, Arba Minch University has worked on several researches to modernize centuries-old cultivation techniques and notably the process of fermentation of Enset. After intensive research and field study, a new type of modern Enset processing tools and fermentation technologies introduced that improve yields, reduce wastage and save huge labor of women, he remarked.  In addition to this, the university has also managed to produce nutrient-enriched and value added foods from Enset: Enset cake, biscuits, bread, cookies and other kinds of foods from the crop after fermented.

In her presentation entitled "The Need for International Research Collaboration on Enset," Mrs. Shanon Rubera, Founder and CEO of Alabaster International, USA, mentioned that the basic problem of the world, especially Africans, is the issue of food nutrition; therefore, it is important to work in cooperation on crops like Enset that are drought-resistant and have several nutritional values. She noted that recognizing the importance of working in collaboration, her institute has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Arba Minch University, Ethiopian Bio-diversity Institute, Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and Girl Child Network to collaborate on Enset research and promotion.

AMU and Bahir Dar, Debre Markos and Wolkite Universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on Enset and Moringa research and popularization. Moreover, on the second day of the conference, selected symposium attendees and invited guests visited the Model Enset Processing Pilot Plant, Model Enset multiplication Site, and Enset Park at Dorze. On the field visit, the participants acknowledged AMU's work and accomplishments in the sector and pledged their willingness to collaborate with the university on future technological research and scaling-up.

Certificates of appreciation and recognition were awarded to organizations and individuals for their valuable contribution to Enset research and supporting this international event.

Ministry of Agriculture, Bio and Emerging Technology Institute, KU Leuven - VLIR-UOS, AMU-IUC and UNIDO at Platinum, Alabaster International, Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise at Gold and Bere Sericulture Production PLC, Arba Minch Tourist Hotel, Dere Gamo Development Association and Haile Resort – Arba Minch at Silver levels Co-hosted and co-sponsored this international event.

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