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Citation of this paper

Characterizing farming practices from three regions of Ethiopia on which enset (Ensete ventricosum) is widely profited as a multipurpose crop plant

Dereje Fekadu

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Holetta Research Center, P.O.Box 31, Holetta, Ethiopia
drjfekadu@gmail.com   or   derejefekadu@ymail.com

Abstract

In enset growing area the average land holding ranges from 0.6-2.9 ha. In these places, livestock get most of their feed from grazing where the remainder is the enset leaf and crop-residue. Enset leaf is fed in the period from December to May, dry period of a year. This time of the year is when limitation of feed in quality and quantity prevailed.

 

Leaf samples from 118 enset varieties of three zones of the enset growing region were collected for a chemical test together with gathering primary information on the present feeding system. The mean value for Ash, CP, NDF, ADF, Lignin, ADFAsh, P, Ca and Mg was 17.8, 14.6, 69.6, 42.1, 8.54, 2.83, 0.22, 1.07 and 0.31 respectively.

 

During dry season of a year, farmers practice to supplement their livestock after grazing with crop residues and hay which result sub-optimal level of nutrient intake. Considering the chemical composition of enset and its mineral content, enset leaf can be used as a supplemental feed resource to back up the short fall.

Keywords: enset, enset for livestock, enset utilisation, livestock requirement, nutritive value


Introduction

Livestock production is an integral component of the smallholder farming system in Ethiopia where the farmers rely largely on natural pasture as a feed resource. The existing grass species in the natural pasture mature rapidly resulting in a high dry matter (DM) and having low nutritional value (Pratt and Gwynne 1977), which is a root cause of low production/reproduction and increased susceptibility to disease. To overcome the limitation particularly that of the protein, introducing the application of feeding practice of the enset leaf  (Photos 1 to 5) can be recognised which is high in crude protein (Dereje and Ledin 1997) and is comparable with legumes. This supplementary practice with enset leaf can increase fibre digestion, production and productivity of the livestock (van Eys et al 1986; Ash 1990; Reed et al 1990).


Figure 1.  Enset at early stage

Figure 2. Over mature Enset

Figure 3. Enset at mature stage

Figure 4. Pseudo-stem of an enset plant

Figure 5. Corm of an enset plant


Enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) which contain more than 100 varieties is a perennial herbaceous monocot banana-like large (grow 4 to 8m which even sometimes reach up to 11m in height) plant belonging to the family Musaceae, genus of banana (Baker and Simmonds 1953; Admasu and Struik 2001; Yemane and Fassil 2006; and Randy et al 2007) of which none is found cultivated in other part of the World. Enset is native to Ethiopia and the greater concentration of this species is found in the South and Southwest part of the country (Baker and Simmonds 1953; and Westphal 1975) and the area coverage under this crop is rapidly increasing.

 

This plant has acquired a special place in the rain fed areas due to its drought tolerance. Its production has remained important in the enset growing regions for a number of generations and the cultivation plays an important role in the cultural identity of the growers. It can be used as a source of food (Yirga 1998) for humans from four years of age on-ward and starting from two years of age the leaves can serve as feed for livestock and be used in the household farming family (baking dough, wrapping food items such as kocho, cottage cheese, butter, etc.). Commonly enset is processed to serve as source of food at about 10 years of age and thereafter, up to 25 years old age. The product ‘kocho’ has a shelf-life, in the way of traditional storage practice, as long as desired and thus help to overcome the severe drought years which occur very frequently in Ethiopia. It is no wonder then that enset has a special place in the socio-cultural structure of the society, besides being an important food and feed resource. Therefore, this work was initiated with the following objectives:

Material and methods 

The study on enset plant utilization was conducted in the Guraghe zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State, Ethiopia. Twenty five farm families from each district of Goro district (low altitude), Cheha district (mid altitude), and Ezanawelene district (high altitude) were selected randomly. Their classification in the different ecological zones was based on Taye Bezuneh (1993).  The information was gathered by an interview work at the rural level in which over 250 farm families have participated. The information obtained include the area of plots planted with enset plants in the household farming practised at present and in the past, other crop species planted, labour source for clearing, ploughing, planting, weeding, harvesting, feeding pattern of livestock and the feed resource, and the type of species and number of livestock held. If plots planted to two or more crops the area were divided equally among them. That is, if the area planted to each crop was not specified, such as intercropped, if two different harvests in same year.

 

Recognising the important role that enset could play in the farming system of enset growers in Ethiopia, the investigator made the collection of leaf samples of all possible varieties. Subsequent chemical test were carried out on 118 enset varieties which were collected from three zones of the enset growing region (Kembata and Hadiya, Waka, and Wolayita) in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia. The leaf of enset plant varieties were collected by cutting with a knife five centimetres below the leaf base on the petiole.

 

The sample was oven dried at 65oC for 72 hours to determine DM. Then, it was milled to pass through a 1mm screen. A sub sample for the chemical analysis were taken and analysed for CP determination using the procedures set forth by AOAC (1990), ADF and NDF using the procedures set forth by Van Soest and Robertson (1985). The Ca and Mg content were determined by atomic absorption spectro photometry (Perkin-Elmer AAS Manual (Model 2380) 1982) and P was determined by spectro photometric method (Barker et al 1975). The data were analysed using MINITAB statistical package (MINITAB 1994) and (Mead et al 1994).

 

Results 

The result in Table 1 confirms that the average land holding ranges from 0.6-2.9 ha, it decreases when going to the highlands and increase towards the lowland area.


Table 1.    Profile of household size, TLU (Tropical Livestock Unit) and area of land held by the households

 

Altitude

Lowland

Mid-altitude

Highland

Mean SD

Mean SD

Mean SD

Household size

5.97 2.53

7.63 3.35

5.7 1.72

TLU

3.70 1.96

4.59 2.77

3.31 1.09

Area of land, ha

2.87 1.90

2.44 2.57

0.64 0.41

- Cultivated

2.0

1.4

0.54

- Pasture/fallow

0.87

1.04

0.10


The cultivated land was allocated for perennial and annual crops, for the perennial crops 0.1-0.4 ha whereas for the annual crops 0.04-1.2 ha was used. Out of the perennial crops, enset takes 100% of the cultivated land in the lowland and 66.7% in the mid-altitude and highland areas. When we take into consideration in relation to the total cropping activities, enset encompasses 6%, 28.6% and 37% of the land area in the lowland, mid-altitude and highland respectively (Table 2). A land which was free from cropping was available for the animal to graze.


Table 2.  The area of plots planted (ha SD), species grown of the household land holding

Crop species

Altitude

Lowland

Percent

Mid-altitude

Percent

Highland

Percent

Teff

1.2 0.15

41.8

0.5 0.17

20.5

---

---

Enset

0.2 0.01

7.0

0.4 0.02

16.4

0.2 0.02

31.3

Maize

0.6 0.07

20.9

0.3 0.05

12.3

---

---

Sorghum

0.6 0.05

20.9

---

---

---

---

Coffee

---

---

0.1 0.01

4.1

---

---

Chat

---

---

0.1 0.01

4.1

0.1 0.02

15.6

Barley

---

---

---

---

0.1 0.03

15.6

Wheat

---

---

---

---

0.1 0.09

15.6

Potato

---

---

---

---

0.04 0.01

6.3


The land use pattern showed that 90.6%, 57.4% and 84.4% was cultivated out of the total area of land held by a household in the lowland, the mid-altitude and the highland area respectively. In the mid-altitude, the remaining land area was covered by natural and man-made forest, and the non-cultivated land was used for grazing. The man-made forest dominantly was of Eucalyptus tree.

 

The livestock holding in the areas expressed in terms of Tropical Livestock Unit (TLU) which is 250 kg live mass according to de Leeuw and Rey 1995; Iji et al 1995 (Table 1) and they were dominated by cattle of which cows were the most and are kept for the purpose of milk production and to raise their calves. The milking cows are provided with somewhat better quality (in relative term) feed and women invariably do the feeding practice. The cows are used as a multi purpose animal: production of milk, meat, calves and as for the value in the society strata.

 

The association between average area of land holding, the correlation of livestock unit with respective land holding was low as it goes to the highlands, and the parameters considered was noted to depend on altitude (Table 3).


Table 3.  Correlation of area of land holding with number of household members and TLU

Altitude

Household size

TLU

Low

0.20

0.83

Mid

0.60

0.76

High

-0.14

0.25


In all the cases (be it low, mid or high altitude area) the availability of animal feed is low in quantity and poor in terms of quality during the dry season. As a solution, the animal owners traditionally use enset leaf for supplemental feeding. Besides the enset leaf, they also make use of the pseudo-stem and the corm of the plant as a feed supplement on a severe feed scarce season. There are also other species of crop plants that have equally importance (Table 2). These different species of crops were used to generate cash from the sale and as source of food for consumption in the farming system of the farm households (Table 4).


Table 4.  The uses of the different species of crops grown and their use in percent of the growers

Crop species

Uses, %

Consumption

Sale

Consumption + Sale

Teff

14.9

29.7

55.4

Enset

100

---

---

Maize

63.2

8.5

28.2

Sorghum

48.6

10

41.4

Pepper

12.5

50

37.5

Peas/Beans

40

40

20

Coffee

75.3

3.7

21

Chat

2.7

95.3

2

Barley

64.3

7.1

28.6

Wheat

25.0

12.5

62.5

Potato

100

---

---


The available number of source of labour in a household in the manner of age and sex are indicated in table 5,


Table 5.   Available labour source in a households

Altitude

Age category

Sex

Male

Female

Low

Adult

2.4 0.26

1.6 0.13

 

Child

1.9 0.26

1.6 0.19

Mid

Adult

1.6 0.14

1.9 0.28

 

Child

1.4 0.16

1.7 0.48

High

Adult

1.3 0.09

1.5 0.10

 

Child

2.4 0.17

2.5 0.22


Labour was an essential farm input that influences every farm activity. The labour that was available in the household can be categorised into children and adult labour. On average 46.7%, 47% and 63.6% of the labour was that of children, where the rest being adult labour, in the lowlands, mid-altitude and highland areas respectively. In fact, the number of household members (Table 1) does not match with the number of labour available (Table 5). This was due to the movement of household members from their area for off-farm activities and return back at high time (bottleneck period in the farming occur). 

                  

The available labour (Table 5) involved in the farm daily work in average for 6 hours with a range of 5 to 8 hours, and work on the average for 274 days with the range of 204 to 365 days in a year. For the case of enset, the lady or the housewives literally have no dayoff in a year which she may have no contact with either the product of enset or with the plant. in the process of preparation of food, which entirely is the duty of the female, there will be no day that she will escape from such work as it is enset the staple diet of the society. For the case of the male, the farmer involve in the land preparation (a day work with a team of 6 to 30 people depending on the size of the enset plot), weeding (common in the rainy season a practise for cut and carry feeding) and occasional (seasonal) transplanting (an activity before going to the main farm work usually in mornings) of this plant at the different age within the plot.

 

The aforementioned enset leaf being feed is subjected for evaluation, in terms of the nutritive value, to elicit production of the animals. As all feeds are not equal in nutrient composition, the information on quality profile is important for formulating a sound management practice. Hence, it is important to carry out the chemical analysis so that one can determine the characteristics of a feed to describe the nutritional status of the animal for certain production level and productivity.

 

The average chemical composition and mineral contents of the 118 varieties of enset leaves determined and indicated a statistically highly significant difference (p<0.001) among the varieties. This is displayed with means and range in Table 6.


Table 6.  The average mineral content and chemical compositions of the tested varieties on dry matter basis with their range and SD, regardless of their origin

Chemical and mineral (%)

Mean SD

P value

Range with name of the variety in parenthesis

Minimum

Maximum

Ash

17.82.34

0.00

11.2 (Hiela)

22.5 (Trey)

CP

14.62.19

0.00

10.2 (Kambata)

23.0 (Akachiya)

NDF

69.63.14

0.00

61.7 (Trey)

78.6 (Goemore)

ADF

42.12.85

0.00

35.2 (Sesa)

50.1 (Gashiya)

Lignin

8.541.73

0.00

4.60 (Abatmerza)

12.9 (Mashashiya)

ADFAsh

2.830.93

0.00

0.25 (Wellancho)

6.10 (Sesa)

P

0.220.05

0.00

0.12 (Ayina)

0.39 (Abatmerza)

Ca

1.070.32

0.00

0.40 (Shelekie)

2.38 (Mariya)

Mg

0.310.10

0.00

0.12 (Bunduswa)

0.56 (Fechachiye)


In this observation variety Hiela from Welayita region, Kambata from Kembata, Trey from Waka, Sesa from Kembata, Abatmerza from Welayita, Wellancho from Welayita, Ayina from Welayita, Shelekie from Kembata and Bunduswa from Welayita has a minimum value in Ash, CP, NDF, ADF, Lignin, ADFAsh, P, Ca, and Mg respectively. Whereas, variety Trey from Waka region, Akachiya from Kembata, Goemore from Kembata, Gashiya from Kembata, Mashashiya from Welayita, Sesa from Kembata, Abatmerza from Welayita, Mariya from Kembata, and Fechachie from Welayita has the maximum value in Ash, CP, NDF, ADF, Lignin, ADFAsh, P, Ca, and Mg respectively. The mean chemical composition and mineral contents with their respective origin (region) shown in Table 7.


Table 7.  The average mineral content and chemical compositions of the tested varieties on dry matter basis with their range and SD, in respect to origin

Chemical and mineral, %

Origin

Kembata

Waka

Welayta

Mean SD

Range

Mean SD

Range

Mean SD

Range

Ash

17.9 1.92

12.7-21.7

19.0 1.75

16.2-22.5

16.4 2.56

11.2-22.1

CP

14.3 2.35

10.2-23.0

15.6 1.87

11.3-20.6

14.0 2.05

10.4-20.2

NDF

70.3 4.01

61.8-78.6

68.4 2.91

61.7-73.6

70.0 1.81

65.5-73.1

ADF

42.6 3.08

35.2-50.1

42.7 2.78

35.8-48.2

40.9 2.33

37.7-47.8

Lignin

8.69 1.56

5.08-11.8

8.81 1.70

5.01-12.0

8.12 1.88

4.60-12.9

ADFAsh

2.92 0.88

1.38-6.10

3.01 0.83

0.58-5.08

2.57 1.02

0.25-4.80

P

0.22 0.05

0.14-0.37

0.22 0.06

0.13-0.38

0.23 0.05

0.12-0.39

Ca

1.08 0.34

0.40-2.38

1.16 0.26

0.70-1.67

0.99 0.36

0.44-1.73

Mg

0.31 0.09

0.14-0.54

0.25 0.08

0.13-0.47

0.38 0.08

0.12-0.56

Discussion 

Enset leaf, since the plant is tolerant to environmental stress (Taye Bezuneh 1993), provides sustainable feed production which can be harvested when need arises. All fresh parts can be eaten by cattle (Dereje 1996; Dereje and Ledin 1997), these characteristics undoubtedly made it a crop of sustainable feed resource.

 

The findings presented in this paper suggested that different parts of the plant are useful feed source for cattle during dry season, a big advantage. The plant parts have rapid degradability (Dereje and Ledin 1997) and this increases its rate of passage, which at last increased the voluntary intake. When enset is uprooted at sucker stage (the stages at which not mature enough for processing kocho) for corm consumption by a household, the remaining part (leaf and pseudo stem) is given to cattle. The most commonly used part as a feed is the leaf which plays a significant role in the dry season in the nutrition of grazing animals and this agrees with the report of Adugna Tolera (1990), Desalegn Rahmato (1993), Shigeta (1993), and Dereje (1996).

 

The very large leaf area of enset provide a close canopy which protect the soil from ill effect of rain and its extensive root system (Asnakech 1997) and its mulched part beneath it protects soil from runoff. Though enset have many desirable attributes for agriculture and environment, from point of providing an attractive and balanced diet, monoculture of this crop is not necessarily desirable.

 

The density of livestock is high in the highland area where high human population exist, in these areas the TLU/ha of land showed a trend of increasing as the land holding per households decrease (Reynolds and de Leeuw 1993). Hence, the area of the land holding and the size of members of household were negatively correlated. That is, the size of households’ members plus the TLU in relation to the average size of land holding was found large. The findings regarding the landholding per households agree with the report of The Agricultural Bureau of Guraghe Zone (1997). The highland area of the country at large is supporting about 80% of the human and livestock population (Gryseel and Anderson 1983). This has resulted to the intensification of the land use pattern in the area and the livestock sub sectors contribute to increase the output of the farming system (Tekalign et al 1993; ILCA 1994; de Leeuw and Rey 1995) at the same time to backup crop failures, if any. The livestock in this area, will have for sure competition for the may be scarce feed resource, fits to the feed resource available (Schiere and de Wit 1995) and the possible optimal is being exploited by the managerial capability of the farmers.

 

The range of number of days farmers engaged in farm work agrees with the work presented by a statistical bulletin (Central Statistical Authority 1995). In fact, it is difficult to isolate the activity of one sector of the farming in the mixed farming system. Hence, this work has a difficulty of presenting the exact figure of hours spent on the enset related activities. However, from the observations made, the men involved in preparing the enset plot on a seasonal basis  yearly while the plant is still handled (take care) and fertilized by organic fertilizer (Asnakech 1997) year round by the females. The leaf of enset for feeding (cutting and chopping) is commonly done by the male farmer or son of the family in the late afternoon, which takes not more than half an hour each day.

 

The different uses of enset have been discussed exhaustively by different authors (Asnakech 1997; Dereje and Ledin  1997; IAR 1991; Shigeta 1990; Stanley 1966). However, the degrees of utilization have been left open and in this study attempt were made to deal with this respect. It was found that the enset product as a human food was used in the considered households up to 100% level, regardless of the other values of the plant. This urges us to say that this crop have a great importance in the living and culture of the society who grow it. This is without forgetting the complemented value of the other crops in the farming activities, the annual and perennial crops.

 

In livestock production system, boosting the productivity is the main target of a farm which depends on the nutrient supply of a feed offered to the animal. The nutritional capacity of a feed and availability of nutrients in a feed is determined by the chemical composition or the chemical entities of the feed. Generally, CP (crude protein) concentration decline while ADF (acid detergent fibre) and NDF (neutral detergent fibre) concentration increase (Akin and Robinson 1982; McGraw and Marten 1986; and Sanderson and Wedin 1989) and often the limiting factor for the ruminants in tropics is CP (Preston and Leng 1986). According to McDowell and Conrad (1977), under grazing management practice the critical level for livestock for the three studied minerals (Ca, Mg, and P) to be 0.30%, 0.20%, and 0.25% respectively. This was found to be satisfied in the range of the varieties of enset leaves. Forages in the dry season of a year are said to have low level of CP and high level of the fibres (Abderahman et al 1998). This was found to be true when we talk of the fibre content of the enset leaf. In the case of the CP content of the various tested varieties of enset plants, it was rather highly comparable with leguminous species. It would be worthy to backup the results from the chemical analysis that determined the concentration of the major nutrients with a study on biological response using cattle, since cattle are the predominant figure in the farming system.

 

Conclusion

 

Acknowledgement 

I would like to acknowledge IFS (International Foundation for Sciences) who have financially supported the entire cost of this experiment (IFS funded, B/2589-1) which would not have been run without their support.

 

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Received 13 October 2009; Accepted 6 November 2009; Published 3 December 2009

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