The reasons to initiate a study on 'wild-food' plants, with an emphasis on 'famine-food' plants by the United Nations Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UN-EUE) have a largely practical and pragmatic basis. The initial idea was to document indigenous knowledge on wild-foods and, more particularly, on 'famine-food', to identify and understand better the importance of wild-food plants in the survival strategies adopted by rural people in food insecure areas of the country.

Besides the collection of secondary data, of which unfortunately very little exists on wild-foods and related subjects concerning Ethiopia, informal guideline interviews were conducted with selected key informants. In the field opportunistic free and open interviews and discussions were held with farmers, herders, children and women during extended field visits, bush and farm walks that were undertaken for tracking down specific wild plants. The study team was guided by local agricultural experts from Woreda agricultural offices who identified knowledgeable key informants and also acted as translators. When ever possible, background information was collected on edible wild plants presented herein, vernacular names of the plants were registered, photographs of the species and on relevant details of the plant were taken and a sample of the plants edible components was taken. Parts of 60 different plant specimens were collected, mounted, labelled and submitted to the National Herbarium at Addis Ababa University for identification and taxonomic classification of the species collected.

Konso Special Woreda, Kindo-Koyisha, Humbo, Damot-Weyde and Kamba Woredas of North Omo Zone and Bako-Gazar and Hamer-Bena Woredas of South Omo Zone in the Southern Nation, Nationalities, Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia were selected for the initial field survey in January 2000. These localities figure among the most chronically food insecure areas of Ethiopia, periodically facing food shortages due to their fragile environmental setting. They are located 400 to 700km south of Addis Ababa. In addition, following the initial survey, information on wild-food plants has been collected during subsequent field trips in other areas of Ethiopia such as Afar, Somali Region, Hararghe and its southern lowland areas towards Somali Region, North and South Wollo, and Jimma and Illubabor in the Western part of Ethiopia. Furthermore, the Ethiopian Venture Project1 contributed significantly to the present field guide. Using the same methodology, approximately 40 additional wild-food plants could be identified and described in three different areas in northern Ethiopia that are Jana Mora Woreda (North Gonder Zone), Ziquala Woreda (Wag Hamra Zone), and Ganta Afesum Woreda (East Tigray Zone).

1 For further information on the Ethiopian Venture Project, please refer to the following webpage, where all the necessary information on this project can be found:

Back to top