Changes of Sorghum bicolor landrace diversity and farmers' selection criteria over space and time, Ethiopia

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Temporal and spatial changes of sorghum landrace diversity and related factors in five farming communities in north Shewa and south Welo, between 1992/1993 and 2000/2001, were studied in order to ascertain the stability of a range of factors that support the maintenance of the crop genetic diversity. The same farmers were interviewed and the same sorghum fields were surveyed both times. Over the 8-year period: the total area planted to sorghum decreased drastically in all five farming communities and a large percentage of the farmers in the communities (Hayk, 69%; Borkena, 68%; Epheson, 51%; Merewa Adere, 72%; and Bati, 54%) decreased the field size planted to sorghum, because of population growth, land redistribution policy, seasonal changes, and stagger cropping followed by interspecies crop displacement; landrace richness increased significantly in Merewa and Borkena, but decreased significantly in Bati, Epheson and Hayk; and farmers' selection criteria, the reasons for growing specific landraces, increased significantly (10 in 1992/1993 vs. 22 in 2000/2001). Significant differences in field size distribution occur among the five farming communities. In 2000/2001, 22 “generalist” landraces (grown widely across three or more communities), and 46 “specialist” landraces (niche specific, restricted to certain microhabitats in one or two communities) were found. Landrace gains and losses from the farms surveyed in individual communities over the period are demonstrated.

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