Study finds banana-like crop could feed more than 100 million people

Ethiopia's false banana - is the Enset a wondercrop for climate change?

Enset, also known as the "false banana," is a starchy crop that is a food staple in Ethiopia. While its fruit is inedible, a recent study says its stems and roots can be fermented and are commonly used to make porridge and bread.

A new study suggests that a plant relative of the banana, found only in Ethiopia, has the potential to feed more than 100 million people in warming environments if its cultivation were to be expanded.

Research suggests the crop can be grown over a much larger range in Africa.

"This is a crop that can play a really important role in addressing food security and sustainable development," said Dr Wendawek Abebe of Hawassa University in Awasa, Ethiopia. Enset is a staple in Ethiopia, where around 20 million people rely on it for food, but elsewhere it has not been cultivated, although wild relatives - which are not considered edible - grow as far south as South Africa, suggesting the plant can tolerate a much wider range.

Using agricultural surveys and modelling work, scientists predicted the potential range of Enset over the next four decades.


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