“Everything grows on Chefasine soil”: Progress of PhytoWood project in Ethiopia


Group discussion among the farmers and Jens Weber (©Weber)

After its inception in October 2018, the PhytoWood-Synergies project is moving forward. A workshop and a field visit to the study village in Hawassa Zuria District took place in January 2019. Now we will cooperate with 5 female and 5 male farmers from Chefasine Kebele (village) who are willing to cultivate the selected species in their home gardens.


After rigorous literature review done by Jens Weber, discussions with experts from Hawassa University Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources (WGCFNR) and Addis Ababa University (AAU), and consultation with farmers in the Chefasine Kebele, five species of medicinal plants have been selected for an in-situ cultivation in the Kebele. Chefasine Kebele is included in the Socio-economic Field Laboratory of the WoodCluster project.

These species are characterized as herbs and small shrubs, some of which are commonly familiar to the farmers as they have seen the plants in the mountain area. Some species are categorized as critically endangered, some are widespread. They are described to be antidotes to cure poisoning, constipation, skin wounds, and snake bites, among others. For the purpose of this project, however, emphasis will be put on anthelmintic effects. Furthermore, there’s a need in this project to assess if the selected species are suitable to be cultivated in the long run under the farm conditions in the study site.

The purpose of the visit to the Chefasine Kebele was to obtain some information concerning medicinal plants and opinions from the local farmers. The farmers received the idea of the project in a welcoming manner. They are convinced that especially in the rainy season, “everything grows on Chefasine soil”. When asked about the medicinal plants they know around their village, they altogether came up with at least seven species. For some plants that they value, they practice weeding around the young shrubs shrubs. One of the mentioned species, called “Besu bakla” in Sidama language, is known to treat tumor.


Farm visits in Chefasine Kebele (© Weber)

The “Kick-off workshop” in Hawassa took place on January 24th 2019, attended by 20 participants, including the 10 farmers, 4 representatives of the Kebele administration, Prof. Tsegaye from WGCFNR, Dr. Motuma (the dean of WGCFNR), other staff members from WGCFNR, and Prof. Kaleab from AAU.


Kick-off workshop in Hawassa (©Weber)

After Jens’s return to Germany, a meeting was held at the Chair of Tropical Forestry in Tharandt on February 20th 2019 together with Prof. Imming, our project partner from the Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. Together we discussed the next steps, such as the amount and the parts of the plants needed for further research on the pharmaceutical properties and the need for a marketing concept of the medicinal plants in Ethiopia. Currently, medicines derived from locally-grown medicinal plants are not commonly found in Ethiopian pharmacies.

The PhytoWood project strives to contribute in improving livelihood by providing an additional source of income for the small-scale farmers in the study village. Besides, it strives to increase biodiversity and contributes to health through its medicinal benefits.

For more information about the project, please visit TUD-website: https://tu-dresden.de/forst/phytowood

By Kendisha S. Hintz, with the support of Jens Weber & Maxi Domke


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