Scientists want to find plants to help feed the world, and recent research has found that a new superfood could be enset. The Ethiopian crop, also known as the anti-famine tree, could feed more than 100 million people.
Almost half of the calories we consume come from three types of grains – rice, wheat or corn. However, climate change is expected to have serious consequences for the yield and distribution of staple foods, especially in Africa. Scientists point out that humanity needs to expand the range of plants it uses for food, thus devoting more and more time to finding plants to feed the world.
One recent study focused on the Ethiopian plant enset, also known as the false banana. Polish, a close relative of the banana, could be a new superfood that would save many lives. The domesticated form of the plant, which has also been dubbed the banana on steroids and grows up to ten meters in height, is otherwise grown in only one part of Ethiopia.
While a banana-like fruit is inedible, the trunk and roots can be fermented and used for porridge or bread. In this northeastern African country, the pseudo-banana provides the basis of food for about 20 million people, and scientists believe that its production could expand significantly, reports the BBC.
Perennial plays an important role in sustainability
The wild relatives of the essay, which are not edible, grow all the way to South Africa, which suggests that the plant can tolerate different living conditions. Scientists have found that if the plant were to be cultivated across Africa, it could feed more than 100 million people over the next 40 years.
“It is a crop that can play an important role in food security and sustainable development,” stressed Wendawek Abebe of the Ethiopian University of Hawassa, explaining that the so-called anti-famine tree has unusual characteristics that make it unique. “You can plant it and pick it at any time, it’s also perennial,” said researcher James Borrell of London’s Kew Gardens.