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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 1999

Improving the yield potential and quality of Grasspea (Lathyrus sativus L) a dependable source of dietary protein for subsistence farmers in Ethiopia

Grasspea Subsistence Ethiopa

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Improving the yield potential and quality of Grasspea (Lathyrus sativus L) a dependable source of dietary protein for subsistence farmers in Ethiopia

Pays : Ethiopia, Syrian Arab Republic

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R7262(C)

DFID Programme : CGIAR Competitive Research Facility and Holdback Funds

Organismes de mise en œuvre
Lead Institutes : Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organisation (EARO) ; International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) ; University of Addis Ababa
Managing Institutes : Rural Livelihoods Department, Department for International Development (UK) (RLD)

Durée : 01-04-1999 à 30-03-2002

Only 12% of Ethiopia’s total area is in crop land, and yet the economy is predominantly agricultural ; agriculture contributes 57% of GDP, and occupies 86% of the labour force. The growth in agricultural production in Ethiopia was 2.4% between 1986 and 1996 ; this cannot keep pace with the increasing food needs of a population which, it is estimated, will increase by 3.2% during 1995-2000. Deficits in food production are partially met by large quantities of imported grain, mainly in the form of foreign aid from the international community ; in 1996 aid represented 50% of Ethiopia’s imports of goods and services. Food shortages in the last few years have led to increased food prices, malnutrition and increased human suffering in many parts of the country. Daily calorie supply per capita is the lowest in the world and 48% of children under the age of five are malnourished. Grasspea is a very hardy crop, with tolerance to many of the diseases that afflict other pulses, water logging and drought, and is often grown in residual moisture or in areas suffering from periodic flooding. Its ability to provide an economic yield under adverse conditions has made it a popular crop in subsistence farming in many developing countries, and it offers great potential for use in other parts of the world. Furthermore, as with other pulses, grasspea has a high protein content, approximately three times that of most cereals, and contains appreciable amounts of minerals, vitamins and essential amino acids, and therefore is a valuable addition to the diet of subsistence farm households. However, excessive consumption of grasspea over a prolonged period causes the paralytic disease ,lathyrism,, a neuro- degenerative disorder causing spastic paraparesis and resulting in irreversible paralysis of both legs. The neurotoxin causing this disease has been identified as 3-N-oxdalyl-L-2, 3-diaminopropanoic acid (B-ODAP), or also B-N-Oxalylamino-L-alanine (BOAA). Because of its adaptation to adverse conditions, and despite its toxic properties, the area of grasspea has expanded in Ethiopia relative to other pulses, from a total of 80,000 ha in 1990 to more than 110,000 ha today. Production is mainly concentrated in the north-western (58%), central (16%), north-eastern (13%), and northern and south-eastern regions of Ethiopia (13%). In north-western Ethiopia, namely, Gojam and Gonde, grasspea is the second most important food legume after faba bean (Vicia faba L). It is here that the menace of lathyrism is most acute, and it is widespread among the inhabitants. Together with the central province Shewa, these areas account for more than 90% of the total area of 110,000 ha, and the annual production of about 70,000 tons. The majority of rural households growing grasspea are potential victims of Lathyrism, because much of the time, and particularly during drought induced famine, they depend on grasspea for a large component of their diet. Furthermore, because the majority of the Ethiopian people are followers of the Coptic Orthodox Church, during a good part of the year they do not consume animal protein, and grasspea or other more expensive pulses are then their only source of dietary protein.

Total Cost to DFID : £248,400

Présentation : UKAID

Page publiée le 20 octobre 2015, mise à jour le 27 octobre 2017