Distribution, abundance and risk of loss of sorghum landraces in four communities in North Shewa and South Welo, Ethiopia

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Field survey data of sorghum landrace populations grown by traditional farmers in four adjacent communities in the Ethiopian Highlands are used to analyze and project the local risk of loss of individual landraces under three scenarios: wild population, traditional farming and agricultural modernization. The risk of loss in the wild population scenario is based on landscape ecology theory which evaluates total population size, spatial distribution and patch occupancy, with high values for each factor and the sum of the factors decreasing the risk. This wild population analysis forms the basis for comparison with the other scenarios. In the traditional farming scenario, the deliberate actions of farmers must be taken into account through the recognition that the farmers favour various traits of the sorghum for specific reasons – yield, taste, storability, etc. – and will balance plant numbers according to quantity and quality requirements. In the agricultural modernization scenario, which includes the introduction of high-yield varieties and the tendency toward monocultures and agricultural chemical use, the traits of the landraces that are most likely to be displaced are hypothesized, as are those of the landraces that are likely to be retained on the basis of cultural or other factors. It is planned to follow up this baseline study with a long-term time-series study of the same communities to assess the validity of our projections.

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