Arba Minch University in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization has organized a half-day popularization workshop on fortifying enset and moringa products on November 14, 2023.Click here to see more photos.

In his welcoming remarks, AMU President Dr. Damtew Darza stated that in addition to creating high-level professionals in numerous fields, AMU has been executing several research and community involvement initiatives aimed at solving local and national challenges. Research based interventions designed to transform the production of enset and moringa Products are ongoing in line with the mission of the university, the president noted. The president also stresses that expanding and sustaining similar researches and making collaborative efforts to make the innovations accessible to the wider public are primary targets of the university.

Dr. Lemlem Sisay, UNIDO’s Chief Technical Adviser, in her virtual opening remark said that UNIDO in its Italian Agency for Development Cooperation funded project is making a significant effort on moringa to support the community in developing the value chain, improve production and processing system and at the same time set up a regulatory framework in collaboration with regulatory authorities.  She stated that the meeting is planned to publicize and sensitize the value of moringa in terms of food fortification and bringing moringa productions into the industry which will contribute to the nation's food and nutrition security in the long run. In addition to disseminating evidence-based knowledge and information produced or generated by the university, the gathering and collaboration with AMU provides an opportunity for the private sector and enterprises to make investments in the area and scale up the UNIDO-started project at the community level, she added.  

In his keynote address, AMU Research and Community Engagement Vice President Behailu Merdekios (Assoc. Prof.) stated that AMU's decade-long research on enset identified major bottlenecks in crop yield and utilization and produced several research-based technologies that improve labor-intensive and time-consuming enset processing. Concerning moringa, the vice president mentioned that the university initiated the establishment of a Moringa Farm and managed to conserve over 50 Moringa stenopetala accessions and conduct research on formulation of moringa-based product, Value chain analysis, market linkage establishment, strengthening and sustaining the market.

The University's Biotechnology Researcher Dr. Addisu Fekadu in his presentation on "Fortified enset-moringa based Food Products" stated that by 2021, food imports into Africa would total $55 billion; by 2030, the amount is predicted to have doubled to $110 billion. To solve the problem of food security and malnutrition in Ethiopia and Africa, addressing the root causes and utilizing the untapped, indigenous, affordable, organic, climate-resilient, nutritious crops like moringa and enset are mandatory, Dr. Addisu noted.

He added that in his research work, he attempted to fortify moringa with enset which resulted in a type of nutritious meal for pregnant and lactating women as well as for young children.  Dr. Addisu further adds that moringa-enset fortified food provides essential nutrients like vitamins, calcium, iron, folic acid, and others. This in turn addresses nutrient deficiencies and promotes public health, avoids the need for pharmaceuticals to obtain these nutrients and saves countries millions of dollars charged to import these nutrients, the researcher urged.

Dr. Shite Gatew, Director of the Biodiversity Research and Conservation Centre, highlighted that the center is currently conducting two mega projects focusing on these two miraculous plants, enset and moringa. He further added that the concerns to be tackled in these mega projects include reducing enset bacterial wilt disease, adaptation of enset to lowland environments, molecular characterization, nutritional profiling, biological activity, and value-chain of Moringa stenopetala from Southern Ethiopia.

Officials, Academic and research staff from AMU, officials and experts from regional, zonal, and town enterprise and job creation offices, Women Associations’ delegates, and other stakeholders were in attendance; AMU Executive Research Director Dr. Tesfaye Habtemariam moderated the program.

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