Karin Zippel, Peter Lüdders:
Adaptation of Cultivation Measures in Enset (Ensete ventricosum) to Different Climatic and Cultural Conditions


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institute for Horticultural Sciences, Section Fruit Science, Germany

Enset (Ensete ventricosum, Musaceae) is grown in southern and south-western Ethiopia for its starch containing leaf sheaths and corm. It serves as staple or co-staple crop for about 15 million people. Moreover, it is used for manifold properties in household, agriculture and traditional medicinal treatments. Cultivation occurs between 1500 and 3300 meters altitude among several ethnic groups. It is grown in plantations consisting of several age groups, and of a wide range of landraces with differing site requirements and properties for use. To keep the identity of the landraces they are propagated vegetatively by sprouts. However, propagation by seed is practised in some regions.

Two regions with enset as staple crop (Gurage and Sidamo) and co-staple crop (Welaita and Gardula), respectively, highlight the varying possibilities for enset cultivation, and show constraints and prospects of each cultivation measure. Most important are differences in propagation period and techniques, plantation management, and the cropping system that integrates enset cultivation. Propagation lasts from December to May. Propagation techniques vary in the treatment of the corm preparation to induce sprout development. Plantation management includes thinning or transplanting of enset to guarantee sufficient space for the growing plants, period from separating sprouts until harvest, and number and properties of landraces. Cultivation systems are hoe and mixed hoe-plough systems. They include animal husbandry, arable crops, vegetables, fruit crops and cash crops. Intensity of each crop depends on climate and significance for each ethnic group, and so do enset cultivation measures. The cultural influence on cultivation measures is much stronger than the influence of climate. Therefore, changes within one region vary less under different climates than within several regions with comparable climatic conditions.

Keywords: Climate, cultivation measures, cultivation systems, Ensete ventricosum, plantation management, propagation, regional cultures, Ethiopia


Contact Address: Karin Zippel, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institute for Horticultural Sciences, Section Fruit ScienceAlbrecht-Thaer-Weg 3, 14129 Berlin, Germany, e-mail: kzippel@gmx.net
Andreas Deininger, September 2004