Bananas have been cultivated for many years as a garden plant in Ethiopia. The total production in 2011 is around 270,500 tons (FAO, 2013). As in some other tropical and sub-tropical regions, bananas are produced by:
1. small plantations in home gardens owned by small farmers – especially in the South-Western and Western provinces;
2. medium-sized plantations of not more than 10 ha supplying local consumers;
3. relatively large plantations above 20 ha developed to supply export markets.
Modern banana plantations started in Ethiopia at the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike “family banana plantations” these larger plantations were set up in arid irrigated regions. (T. Bezuneh).
In Ethiopia, there is also a multi-purpose plant close to banana and pertaining to the same family: Ensete ventricosum, commonly known as the Ethiopian banana or ensete. Enset is Ethiopia’s most important root crop, a traditional staple that grows in the less arid highlands of the southwestern region of Ethiopia. Enset contributes to improved food security for approximately 15 million Ethiopians and, according to Ethiopian researchers, there is potential for expanding consumption of the crop. The starchy stem of the plant is consumed but the entire plant is used for everything from roofing to packaging to cultural ceremony. See the recent Christensen fund video here.
Enset provides more amount of foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It is estimated that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250-375 sq. meters can provide enough food for a family of 5 to 6 people. – Country Information Brief, FAO June 1995