Microbiota and Physicochemical Analysis on Traditional Kocho Fermentation Enhancer to Reduce Losses (Gammaa) in the Highlands of Ethiopia

  • Received : 2018.01.22
  • Accepted : 2018.07.09
  • Published : 2018.09.28


Warqe (Ensete ventricosum) has been traditionally fermented in an earthen pit to yield a carbohydrate-rich food product named kocho, for generations. A fermentation enhancer (gammaa) was added to this fermenting mass to enhance the fermentation process. The objectives of this study were to assess the physicochemical properties and microbiota of the kocho fermentation enhancer culture to reduce losses. Cross-sectional study design was implemented to collect 131 gammaa samples on the first day of fermentation. The samples were further classified into four groups according to the duration of fermentation (14, 21, 30, and 60 days) practised in various households traditionally. The results showed that the fermentation time significantly affected the physicochemical properties and microbial load of gammaa (p < 0.01). As the fermentation progressed from day 1 to 60, the pH decreased and the titratable acidity increased. The total coliform, Enterobacteriaceae, aerobicmesophilic bacteria (AMB), yeast, and mould counts were significantly reduced at the end of fermentation. In contrast, the number of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) increased significantly until day 30 of fermentation, because of the ability of the LAB to grow at low pH. Lactobacillus species from LAB isolates and Enter obacteriaceae from AMB isolates were the most abundant microorganisms in gammaa fermentation. However, the Enterobacteriaceae and Lactobacilli species count showed decreasing and increasing trends, respectively, as the fermentation progressed. These isolates must be investigated further to identify the species and strain, so as to develop gammaa at the commercial scale.


  1. Ashenafi M. 2006. A review on the microbiology of indigenous fermented foods and beverages of Ethiopia. Ethiop. J. Biol. Sci. 5: 189-245.
  2. Chaka A, Kenea T, Gebresenbet G. 2016. Analysis of the supply chain and logistics practices of warqe food products in Ethiopia. Int. J. Food Syst. Dyn. 7: 213-228.
  3. Gizaw B, Tsegay Z, Tilahun B. 2016. Isolation and characterization of yeast species from Ensete ventricosum product; kocho and bulla collected from Angacha district. Int. J. Adv. Biol. Biom. Res. 5: 245-251.
  4. Tuffa AC, Amentae TK, Balemi T, Gebresenbet G. 2017. Assessment of post-harvest losses of Warqe food products along the supply chain in central Ethiopia. Afr. J. Agric. Res. 12: 750-763.
  5. Gashe BA. 1987. Kocho fermentation. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 62: 473- 477.
  6. Karssa TH, Ali KA, Gobena EN. 2014. The microbiology of kocho: An Ethiopian traditionally fermented food from enset (Ensete ventricosum). Int. J. Life Sci. 8: 7-13.
  7. Urga K, Fite A, Biratu B. 1997. Natural fermentation of enset (Ensete ventricosum) for production of kocho. Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 11: 75-81.
  8. Urga K, Nigatu A, Umeta M. 1996. Traditional enset-based foods: survey of processing techniques in Sidama. In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Enset, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 13-20 Dec. 1993. IAR.
  9. Hunduma T, Ashenafi M. 2011. Effect of altitude on microbial succession during traditional enset (Ensete ventricosum) fermentation. International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health. 4: 39-51.
  10. Ayele A, Sahu O. 2014. Extension of enset plant product for rural development in Ethiopia. East. Afr. J. Rural Dev. 2: 31-40.
  11. Holzapfel WH. 1997. Use of starter cultures in fermentation on a household scale. Food Control. 8: 241-258.
  12. Holzapfel WH. 2002. Appropriate starter culture technologies for small-scale fermentation in developing countries. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 75: 197-212.
  13. Motarjemi Y. 2002. Impact of small scale fermentation technology on food safety in developing countries. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 75: 213-229.
  14. TKDLDHA (Toke Kutaye District Livestock Development and Health Agency), 2014. Annual report of Toke Kutaye District, Guder, Ethiopia.
  15. Antony U, Chandra TS. 1997. Microbial population and biochemical changes in fermenting finger millet (Eleusinecoracana). World J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 13: 533-537.
  16. Oguntoyinbo FA. 2008. Evaluation of diversity of Candida species isolated from fermented cassava during traditional small scale gari production in Nigeria. Food Control. 19: 465-469.
  17. Downes FP, Ido K. 2001. Compendium of Methods for the Microbiological Examination of Foods, 4th Ed., American Publisher: Health Association Washington D.C.
  18. Omemu AM. 2011. Fermentation dynamics during production of ogi, a Nigerian fermented cereal porridge. Report and Opinion. 3: 8-17.
  19. Murray RGE, Costilow RN, Nester EW, Wood WA, Krieg NR, Phillips GB. 1981. Manual of methods for general bacteriology, pp. 31. American Society for Microbiology, Washington, DC.
  20. Gregersen T. 1978. Rapid method for distinction of gram-negative from gram-positive bacteria. Eur. J. Appl. Microbiol. 5: 123-127.
  21. Bisen PS, Verma K. 1996. Handbook of Microbiology, 1st Ed. CBS Publisher and Distributors, New Delhi.
  22. Bosha A, Dalbato AL, Tana T, Mohammed W, Tesfaye B, Karlsson LM. 2016. Nutritional and chemical properties of fermented food of wild and cultivated genotypes of enset (Ensete ventricosum). Food Res. Int. 89: 806-811.
  23. Zewdie L. 1996. Kocho processing in southern and southwestern Ethiopia: preliminary results. In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Enset, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 13-20 Dec. 1993. IAR.
  24. Yirmaga MT. 2013. Improving the indigenous processing of kocho: An Ethiopian traditional fermented food. J. Nutr. Food Sci. 3: 1-6.
  25. Lu ZH, Cao W, Tatsumi E, Li LT. 2008. Isolation, characterization and identification of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts from sour Mifen, a traditional fermented rice noodle from China. J. Appl. Microbiol. 105: 893-903.
  26. Jay JM, Loessner MJ, Golden DA. 2005. Modern Food Microbiology, 7th Ed. Springer Science, New York.
  27. Steinkraus KH. 1992. Lactic acid fermentation, In Application of biotechnology to traditional fermented foods, report of an Ad hoc panel of the board on science and technology for International development, National Research Council. Washington, D.C. National Academy Press.
  28. Tadesse G, Ephraim E, Ashenafi M. 2005. Assessment of the antimicrobial activity of lactic acid bacteria isolated from borde and shamita: traditional Ethiopian fermented beverages, on some food-borne pathogens and effect of growth medium on the inhibitory activity. Int. J. Food Saf. 5: 13-20.
  29. Steinkraus KH, Cullen RE, Pederson CS, Nellis LF, Gavitt BK. 1996. Indigenous fermented foods involving an acid fermentation: Preserving and enhancing organoleptic and nutritional qualities of fresh foods. Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Food, pp. 111-113. 2nd Ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York.
  30. Chelule PK, Mokena MP, Galena N. 2010. Advantages of traditional lactic acid bacteria fermentation of food in Africa. In Mendez-Vilas, A. (Ed.), Current Research Technology and Education Topics in Applied Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology Series 2. Vol.2. Formatex, Spain. 2: 1160-1167.
  31. Sobowale AO, Olurin TO, Oyewole OB. 2007. Effect of lactic acid bacteria starter culture fermentation of cassava on chemical and sensory characteristics of the flour. Afr. J. Biotechnol. 6: 1954-1958.
  32. Amoa-Awua WK, Appoh F, Jakobsen M. 1996. Lactic acid fermentation of cassava into agbelima. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 31: 87-98.
  33. Amoa-Awua WK, Frisvad JC, Sefa-Dedeh S, Jakobsen M. 1997. The contribution of molds and yeasts to the fermentation of 'agbelima' cassava dough. J. Appl. Microbiol. 83: 288-296.
  34. Oyewole OB. 1992. Characteristics and significance of yeasts' involvement in cassava fermentation for 'fufu' production. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 65: 213-218.
  35. Holzapfel WH, Haberer P, Geisen R, Björkroth J, Schillinger U. 2001. Taxonomy and important features of probiotic microorganisms in food and nutrition. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 73: 365-373.
  36. Haile M. 2015. Comparison of the nutritional and microbial com- position of kocho from wild and cultivated enset from Bonga, M.Sc. Thesis, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
  37. Girma M, Gashe BA. 1985. Studies on the microbial flora of kocho and bulla purchased from markets in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian J. Sci. 8: 29-36.
  38. Andeta AF, Vandeweyer D, Woldesenbet F, Eshetu F, Hailemicael A, Woldeyes F, et al. 2018. Fermentation of enset (Ensete ventri- cosum) in the Gamo highlands of Ethiopia: Physicochemical and microbial community dynamics. Food Microbiol. 73: 342-350.
  39. Holzapfel WH, Wood BJ. 2014. Lactic acid bacteria: biodiversity and taxonomy. John Wiley & Sons.
  40. Leroy F, De Vuyst L. 2004. Lactic acid bacteria as functional starter cultures for the food fermentation industry. Trends in Food Sci. Technol. 15: 67-78.
  41. Hamasaki Y, Ayaki M, Fuchu H, Sugiyama M, Morita H. 2003. Behavior of psychrotrophic lactic acid bacteria isolated from spoiling cooked meat products. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69: 3668-3671.