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“Tree against hunger”: potential of enset-based culinary tourism for sustainable development in rural Ethiopia

Tamagn Urgo Woyesa (Mizan-Tepi University, Mizan-Aman, Ethiopia)
Satinder Kumar (Punjabi University, Patiala, India)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 25 May 2021




This is a conceptual study to analyze the potential of enset-based culinary tourism for sustainable rural development and to obtain a place as a niche tourism market in South-Western Ethiopia. It assumed enset agro-biodiversity as the effect of ages of environment, genetic resources and cultural interaction as a distinctive regional image.


This an exploratory paper based on an in-depth interview, field observation and content analysis of documents. By means of in-depth interviews, the researchers managed to gather extended information from community elders and experts in culture and tourism offices selected based on a snowball technique. Besides, it has gone through systematic reviews of about 180 empirical and conceptual articles, books and conference papers with a critical reading of the content, identification of categories, examination and interpretation of ideas, to supplement the in-depth-interview. The thematic analysis applied to identify various ideas, concepts, categories and relationships to produce themes presented under discussion and results.


The study found enset-based culinary tourism not only improve the local economy and regional image, but also it would enhance conservation of traditional farming system, biodiversity, food heritages, genetic varieties and livestock. It also identified 18 enset food varieties compatible with the principle of balanced diets. Finally, the study advised rural development planners to consider enset-based culinary tourism so that it would revive lost food traditions and consumption patterns, enhance the regional heritage and destination branding.

Research limitations/implications

The research is a conceptual study that lacked empirical investigation concerning the livelihood impact, gender implication and actual tourist data. Therefore, future research needs to focus on the aforementioned limitations.

Practical implications

This study addressed SW Ethiopia, which is the primary center of Ensete ventricosum, and argued that enset-based culinary tourism would help to build regional image and obtain a place as a niche rural tourism destination. It would also contribute to the conservation of food heritages, environmentally sustainable farming system, soil conservation, crop diversities and livestock population in addition to producing tourist experience. Moreover, it would encourage the revival of traditional consumption, reinvent lost food traditions and identities.

Social implications

It was hoped that rural tourism would eventually improve the livelihood and enhance the capability of resilience. It is also expected to maintain the traditional social-economic structure based on the enset farm while fostering cultural development.


To the knowledge of the researchers there is no previous work on enset based-culinary tourism in Ethiopia and probably there is no published culinary tourism paper elsewhere.



Woyesa, T.U. and Kumar, S. (2021), "“Tree against hunger”: potential of enset-based culinary tourism for sustainable development in rural Ethiopia", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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