The Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund

Introduction to Grant Projects

Asia to Africa wo Tsunagu-Kai (AAJE)

Sustainable development for Ethiopian farming villages using indigenous ensete

Activity grant

Project Description

Ensete is a native fruit resembling a banana that is used by about 20 million people in Ethiopia, 40% of the country's population, as a primary source of food, eating utensils, and building materials. Although in the past a variety of species were cultivated, in recent years the cultivation of cash crops such as coffee, and development in forests where ensete grows wild has started a decline in both the diversity of species and number of trees. Furthermore, opportunities to pass on knowledge about ensete cultivation and use to younger generations have decreased. This project aims to collaborate with local residents and students in order to conserve the diversity of ensete species and pass on knowledge regarding their cultivation and use through the following three actions:
(1) Establishing a seedling nursery to collect and cultivate native species
(2) Sharing information and raising awareness by making a database of species and usage methods
(3) Developing and promoting dyed-clothe products made from ensete fibre

Preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem
Grant year
FY2008 Activity Grants
Grant term
3 years
October 2008 - September 2011
Grant amount
10,000,000 yen
Activity region
Ari Village, South Omo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
Conserving the diversity of ensete species in Ethiopia

Overview of the Organization

Masayoshi Shigeta, Director
Masayoshi Shigeta, Director
Establishment purpose
AAJE was established to focus on agricultural, educational, and environmental initiatives in various regions of Asia and Africa by members with many years of experience implementing research and development activities. It aspires to find sustainable agricultural development methods for regional communities that are based on their main produce and mindful of environmentally-sustainable usage, and to improve the community's quality of life through educational activities aimed at the younger generations.
Main area of activity
20 full members
Annual operating budget
3.81 million in 2005, 2.71 million yen in 2006, 3.48 million yen in 2007
Recent activities
Since its establishment, AAJE has been operating a bursary fund for regional elementary schools and in 2003 it started expansion work on an elementary school in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia. Since 2005 it has been working with the South Omo Hope Association (SOHA), an Ethiopian NGO, to build, manage, and maintain halls of residence for Jinka High School. In 2006 it carried out an exchange for elementary school students from Japan and Ethiopia. In 2007 it assisted with filming and translation for an NHK feature program on ensete cultivaiton, and it also cooperated with members of SOHA to establish a botanical garden for native ensete species. In April 2008 it started a preliminary study into the use of ensete fibres.