Open Access

Exploiting indigenous knowledge of subsistence farmers’ for the management and conservation of Enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) (musaceae family) diversity on-farm

  • Zerihun Yemataw1, 2Email author,
  • Kassahun Tesfaye3, 4,
  • Awole Zeberga5 and
  • Guy Blomme6
Contributed equally
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201612:34

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-016-0109-8

Received: 29 November 2015

Accepted: 19 August 2016

Published: 1 September 2016

Abstract

Background

Enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) belongs to the order sctaminae, the family musaceae. The Musaceae family is subdivided into the genera Musa and Ensete. Enset is an important staple crop for about 20 million people in the country. Recent publications on enset ethnobotany are insignificant when compared to the diverse ethnolingustic communities in the country. Hence, this paper try to identify and document wealth of indigenous knowledge associated with the distribution, diversity, and management of enset in the country.

Methods

The study was conducted in eight ethnic groups in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State. In order to identify and document wealth of indigenous knowledge, the data was collected mainly through individual interviews and direct on-farm participatory monitoring and observation with 320 farm households, key informant interviews. Relevant secondary data, literature and inter-personal data were collected from unpublished progress report from National Enset Research Project, elderly people and senior experts.

Results

Enset-based farming system is one of a major agricultural system in Ethiopia that serves as a backbone for at least ¼ of country’s population. Farmers used three morphological characters, two growth attributes, disease resistance and five use values traits in folk classification and characterization of enset. A total of 312 folk landraces have been identified. The number of landraces cultivated on individual farms ranged from one to twenty eight (mean of 8.08 ± 0.93). All ethnic groups in the study area use five use categories in order of importance: kocho yield and quality, bulla quality, amicho use, fiber quality and medicinal/ritual value. Of the 312 landraces 245 landraces having more than two use types. Management and maintenance of on-farm enset diversity is influenced by systematic propagation of the landraces, exchange of planting material and selective pressure.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the existing farmers’ knowledge on naming, classification and diversity should be complemented with maintenance of the creative dynamics of traditional knowledge and transmission of the knowledge are crucial for constructing sustainable management.

Keywords

Enset Ethiopia Indigenous knowledge Landraces On-farm diversity On-farm management

Background

The Ethiopian highlands are a center of genetic diversity for enset, tef, sorghum, barley and finger millet [1]. Enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) belongs to the order sctaminae, the family musaceae. The Musaceae family is subdivided into the genera Musa and Ensete [2]. Enset is an important staple crop for about 1/4 (20 million) of the population of the people living in the densely populated regions of South and Southwestern Ethiopia. The crop is grown in mixed subsistence farming systems, often in association with coffee, multi-purpose trees, and annual food and fodder crops [3]. Enset is also used for livestock feed, fuel wood, construction materials, containers, and as a provider of shade to intercropped annual or perennial crops [4]. It is cultivated between 1500 and 3100 m above sea level (m.a.sl), where daily average minimum and maximum temperatures are 8 and 27 °C, respectively [5].

The major food types obtained from enset are kocho, bulla and amicho. Kocho is fermented starch obtained from decorticated (scraped) leaf sheaths and grated corms. Bulla is obtained by squeezing out the liquid containing starch from scraped leaf sheathes and grated corm and allowing the resultant starch to concentrate into white powder. Amicho is boiled enset corm pieces, mainly obtained from young enset plants that are prepared and consumed in a similar manner to other root and tuber crops [6].

Studies indicate that numerous enset cultivars were identified in each region and the observed genetic diversity in cultivated enset in a particular area appears to be related to the extent of enset cultivation and the culture and distribution pattern of the different ethnic groups [7].

A clear understanding of the diversity and distribution of enset is important for crop improvement programs and for managing genetic resources. To measure the status of crop diversity in the field the most common method is counting named varieties. There are two main landrace diversity indices, namely: cultivar richness, which represents the number of landraces in a community, and cultivar evenness, representing the relative abundance of the individuals among the various landraces present in the community [8, 9]. For farmers, genetic diversity means varietal diversity, which farmers can clearly distinguish on the basis of agro-morphological traits, phenological attributes, post-harvest characteristics, and differential adaptive performance under abiotic and biotic stresses [10].

Indigenous technical knowledge is the tool by which local people interact with the environment in order to meet needs and goals ranging from survival goals to that of achievement and esteem [11]. It is knowledge, which is unique to a local area, culture, or society, passed down from one generation to the next, usually through oral tradition. Indigenous knowledge has to do with theories, beliefs, practices, and technologies that local people have elaborated without any assistance from the modern, formal and scientific communities and/or institutions [12]. Indigenous people have a long tradition in maintaining biodiversity as a sustainable resource. Farmers have played and still continue to play a tremendous role in developing and nurturing crop genetic diversity. Many studies have shown that farmers in developing countries have intimate knowledge of environmental processes and make rational resource management decisions based on that knowledge [13].

The southern and southwestern part of Ethiopia has an extraordinary biological and cultural diversity. Recent publication on enset ethnobotany including those by [13, 14] attempt to document farmers’ indigenous knowledge on enset in some cultural groups at specific location. However, those documentations are insignificant when compared to the diverse ethnolingustic communities in the country. This paper seeks to contribute towards filling this knowledge gap, based on an empirical study of enset farmers in Ethiopia. The paper address the following main question: what are farmers’ knowledge associated with the distribution, diversity, and management of enset in the country? The underlying assumption behind this question is that all farmers are equally likely to be knowledgeable about the crop.

Hence, the objectives of this study was to identify and document wealth of indigenous knowledge for folk naming, classification, distribution and abundance of enset landraces and understanding the corresponding knowledge related to utilization, management and conservation of enset landraces.

Methods

The study area

The SNNPR is one of the regions in Ethiopia. It is located in south and southwestern part Ethiopia, 4.43°–8. 58° N latitude and 34.88°–3914° E bordering Kenya to the south and South Sudan to the west and southwest, the Ethiopian region of Gambela to the northwest, and the Ethiopian region of Oromia to the north and east (Fig. 1). The region has a total area of 110,931.9 square kilometers lying within elevations of 378 to 4207 m above sea level [15]. The annual temperature is less than 10 °C in the extreme highlands to over 27 °C in the lowlands of the south. The regions are sub divided in to zones, which are organized in to weredas/districts. The zones are named based on the name of the dominant ethnic group for that specific location. The Regions are sub-divided into Zones, which are organized into weredas/districts. Within weredas, kebeles are the smallest administrative units.
Fig. 1

a Detail zones map of the study region. b Map and Position of the study region in Ethiopia

Study site selections

The study was conducted in eight ethnic groups/zones (Dawro, Gedeo, Gurage, Hadiya, Kembata-Tembaro, Sidama, Silte, and Wolaita) in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS). The eight ethnic groups were selected for the following reasons:
  1. 1.

    The crop has coexisted with the people for centuries and enset production is pre-dominantly based on farmers’ varieties. Hence, farmers’ expected to have an established folk naming, classification system of appraisal of enset.

     
  2. 2.

    The ethnic groups had rich on-farm genetic resources of enset that made it suitable to study ethnobotanical descriptions [13, 14] of enset.

     
  3. 3.

    In the region, enset cultivation is the center of the cropping system in which the entire farming system is based and the crop is the major food security and livelihood source [13, 14].

     
Two wereda were selected from each ethnic groups based on enset diversity (Table 1). Then, two kebeles which are major enset growing areas were purposively selected from each wereda/district based on the importance of enset cultivation and information about enset distribution obtained from the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resource of the respective zones.
Table 1

Description of surveyed woredas and their agro-ecological characterization

No.

Zone

Woreda

Elevation(m.a.sl)

Minimum and Maximum To

Annual RF (mm)

1

Gedeo

Bulle

2428

15–22.5

1200–1800

Gedebe

2171

12–21

800–1150

2

Wolayta

Boloso Sore

1871

14–25

1100–1500

Sodo Zuria

2200

14–25

1100–1800

3

Guragie

Cheha

2638

11–21

1100–1850

Geta

2731

10–22

1000–1800

4

Kembata-Tembaro

Angacha

2465

15–24

900–1750

Doyogena

2748

10–22

1000–1800

5

Silte

Mirab Azerenet

3191

11–18

950–1900

Alicho Werero

2707

12–22

700–2000

6

Hadiya

Dunna

2619

11–21

1100–1850

Misha

2367

12–21

800–1150

7

Daworo

Mareka

2482

12–21

1200–1800

Tocha

2754

12–21

1200–1800

8

Sidama

Dalle

1855

12–26

1000–1800

Hulla

2759

10–17

900–1850

Sampling

Multistage sampling technique was employed for selection of samples, zones, weredas and kebeles. All stages were selected purposefully from high (>2500 m.a.sl) and mid altitude (1500–2500 m.a.sl) [16] areas in consultation with stakeholders engaged in the subsector. Eight Zones, two weredas from each zone (16 wereda) and two Kebele Administration (KA) (Kebeles are the lowest administrative unit) from each wereda (32 KAs), were selected purposefully based on agro-ecology variant. A total of 320 households (40 household heads from each ethnic) over the selected ethnic groups in the two crop ecologies were directly monitored on farms. The survey focused on the investigation of farmers’ folk knowledge for naming, classification, diversity and management of enset landraces in the region.

Data collection

Diverse data collection methods were employed in order to understand the many features for the acquirement of local knowledge of enset naming, classification, diversity and management in the center of diversity. The data collection was conducted mainly through: i) individual interviews and direct on-farm participatory monitoring and observation, ii) key informant and focus group discussions, and iii) secondary data and literature survey.

Individual interviews and direct on-farm participatory monitoring and observation

Before interviews were performed, informal conversation was conducted with 20 inhabitants of the enset community with the objective of determining which type of information needed to be collected. Based on these conversations, semi-structured interviews were designed and data collected with the head of the household or the person responsible for maintenance of the enset plantation. Three hundred twenty farmers were interviewed and directly monitored on farms, over the selected weredas in order to assess the farmers’ ethnobotany knowledge on enset.

The questionnaire covered different topics such as information about the study area, landholdings, crops commonly grown and specific information on the use and management of enset. The detailed information was focused on enset diversity, cultural practices, source of planting materials, and traditional use values of enset. The respondents were also asked about their perception on enset production constraints and their indigenous knowledge about the disease.

Key informant interviews

In order to assess the general indigenous knowledge of farmers’ in each ethnic group: key informants up to five per KA, community leaders, local administrations, and MOA (Ministry of Agriculture), and other members in each ethnic site were interviewed.

Secondary data and literature survey

National Enset Research Project progress report was visited for secondary data and personal communication and discussion with elderly people and senior experts in line with ethnobotany tradition of enset. Literatures on enset culture were reviewed from published and unpublished sources and reports.

Data analysis

Informal discussion with elderly farmers, and key informants were carried out to validate the information gathered from individual interviews. Lists of all landraces described throughout the study area were summarized after grouping known synonyms or names that refer to the same landraces in each wereda with the help of elderly farmers.

Collected survey data were subjected to descriptive statistics (frequencies, percentages, and average) using SPSS Ver. 16. Landrace richness, diversity and dominance per farm were calculated using Microsoft excel 2010. Richness was calculated as the total number of landraces per farm and averaged this figure per ethnic group. Abundance was calculated as the total number of individual plants of each landraces per farm/household. Frequency was estimated as the number of individuals of a landraces with respect to the total number of landraces composing the enset farm. With these parameters we calculated the ecological importance index of each cultivar per farm.

The Shannon and Weaver [17] and Simpson [18] diversity indices are two of the most widely used measures of heterogeneity [19]. Both of them were calculated for all the surveyed zones. The Shannon–Weaver diversity index accounts for both abundance and evenness of the landraces present and can be increased either by greater evenness or more unique landraces. It was calculated using the formula, H' = − Σ pi ln pi, [19]. Where pi, the proportional abundance of the ith landrace. Then we calculated the dominance as a measure representativeness of each landrace through the Simpson index. Simpson’s Index of Diversity (1 – D) was computed for all the zones and all the landraces using the function: Simpson’s Index of Diversity (1-D) = 1-∑ (n/N)2.

\( D={\displaystyle \sum_{i-1}^n\frac{\Big(ni\kern0.5em \left(ni-1\right)}{\Big(N\left(N-1\right)}} \) where, ni = the frequency of the ith landrace, frequency being the number of farms in which the landrace is found in the district, and N = the total number of farms surveyed in the zone.

Equity, the proportion of the observed diversity with respect the maximum diversity expected was calculated through the Pielon index: J = H’/H’max, in which J is equity; H’ = diversity; H’max = maximum diversity, H’max was calculated as the ln(S) S being the number of landraces in a sample. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to compare diversity and distribution values at different ethnic groups.

We used a multiple use curve [20] concept to describe the rate at which ethnobotanical data is collected, check whether the essential part of the available information on the landraces had been collected. This curve plotted the cumulative number of uses recorded against the number of informants. To analyze the use values of the landraces, we regrouped the uses into broad categories, where each category contained uses of a similar nature. In this way, three main categories were created, namely; food (kocho yield and quality, bulla quality, amicho use), fiber (fiber quality) and medicinal/ritual categories. Food and medicinal categories refer to use by both humans and animals.

Result

Strategic importance of enset

Enset-based farming system is one of a major agricultural system in Ethiopia that serves as a backbone for at least one-fifth of country’s population. Enset has been selected as a typical multipurpose crop of which every part is thoroughly used for food, feed, medicinal, construction and ornamental purposes. Throughout the growth stage the corm, pseudostem and leaves are sued for various purposes. Enset is intimately associated with the daily lives of the farmers. Owing to these facts, farmers indicated that, ‘enset is everything for us’. ‘It is our food’ (Fig. 2a), ‘it is our plate’ (Fig. 2b), ‘it is our house’ (Fig. 2c), ‘it is our bed’ (Fig. 2d), ‘it is our bag’ (Fig. 2e) ‘it is our cattle feed’ (Fig. 2f) and it is our medicine (Fig. 2g). It is the most important crop in the farmers’ livelihoods and security.
Fig. 2

Different uses of enset. a food products (Koch, bulla and Amicho). b Used as plate. c Enset leaf sheath thatching of huts. d used as a bed (e) used as bag and decoration. f A young boy feeding a cow with enset leaf. g enset landraces used for medicinal use value

Indigenous knowledge in naming and classification

Ensete is the genus name, while different ethnic group use different vernacular terms as a local name for Ensete. In the study area, Ensete ventricosum is identified through various local names (Table 2). Farmers in the study area use a combination of similar criteria to name and classify enset landraces (Table 3). They classify their landraces and give different names based on several attributes that distinguish these landraces from one another. Three morphological characters (midrib color, petiole color, and leaf color), Growth attributes (vigor, maturity), disease resistance and use value food (kocho yield and quality, bulla quality, amicho use), fiber quality and medicinal value were the major criteria used by farmers. The interviewees referred first to the morphological characters (48 %) (Fig. 3) of any enset landrace when asked for key classifying characteristics. The food usage, food quality, and other use value characters were usually mentioned as those of second importance for classification. It is witnessed that the names given by all enset growing farmers to the different landraces and the classification criteria are generally consistent.
Table 2

Local names of Ensete ventricosum

Ethnic group

Local name

Dawro

U’tt’a

Gedeo

Workicha

Gurage

Aset

Hadiya

Weisa

Kembata-Tembaro

Wessa

Sidama

Wessie

Silte

Weisa

Wolaita

Utta

Table 3

Farmers’ criteria for classification of enset clones in, the eight Ethnic groups and frequency distribution of the 320 respondents

Trait

Descriptor state

Respondents

Plant vigor

Poor (<4 m)

22

Medium (4–6 m)

40

High (>6 m)

38

Maturity (cycle duration)

Early (<4 years)

33

Intermediate (4–5 years)

43

Late (>6 years)

24

Kocho yield

Low (<9.9 t ha−1 yr−1)

9

Medium (9.9 to 20 t ha−1 yr−1)

53

High (>20 t ha−1 yr−1)

38

Bulla quality

Not good

12

Good

88

Corm use

Not used

58

Used

42

Fiber quality

Low

23

Medium

51

High

26

Medicinal value

Not used

88

Used

12

Disease response

Susceptible

80

Intermediate

8

Tolerant

12

Petiole color 

Green

45

Green yellow

1

Pink purple

4

Red

29

Red purple

11

Purple

5

Brown

4

Black

1

Midrib color

Green

36

Green yellow

1

Red

17

Red purple

16

Pink

14

Pink purple

10

Purple brown

4

Black

1

Ivory

1

Leaf color (upper surface)

Light green

61

Medium green

24

Green

15

Fig. 3

Proportional importance of different selection criteria’s in all the communities studied in the SNNPRS, Ethiopia

Level of on-farm richness, diversity and pattern of use

We recorded a total of 440 folk varieties (landraces) across the eight ethnic groups. From the total 128 (29 %) landraces shared the same name in at least two ethnics and the total number of landraces reduced to 312 (Table 14). As farmers over years have selected their landraces for multipurpose values, they do group them according to the use values landraces renders. Each landrace is clearly distinguished by its vernacular name and peculiar characteristics. Of the 312 landraces 288 were reported to be known by all of the interviewees, whereas the 24 landraces were found in less than 5 % of the respondents’ farm.

Based on the total number of different landraces recorded (richness of the ethnic group) and the number of enset landraces per farm, Dawro farmers’ had the highest number of landraces (75) accounting for 24 % of the total number of recorded landraces across the study area. In contrast, the lowest richness was found in Gedeo farmers’ with 26 landraces accounting for 8.33 % of the total number of recorded landraces (Table 4). The number of landraces cultivated on individual farms ranged from one to twenty eight (mean of 8.08 ± 0.93) (Table 4). Average number of landraces per farm ranged between 10.43 for Silte to 3.55 for Wolaita. Dawro and Sidama with 10.2 and Gurage with 9.45 landraces per farm had high farm level richness (Table 4).
Table 4

Enset clone diversity in the eight ethnic groups, Southern Ethiopia, Expressed as richness, Simpson(1-D) and Shannon (H') diversity indices, and Evenness

Districts

Richness (%)

Mean richness / farm

Minimum richness

Maximum richness

No. of unique landraces

1-D

H'

Evenness

Dawro

75 (17.04)

10.2

1

28

21

0.97

3.71

0.86

Gedeo

26 (5.91)

4.75

1

8

20

0.9

2.6

0.8

Gurage

63 (14.32)

9.45

3

21

15

0.96

3.69

0.89

Hadiya

51 (11.59)

8.19

4

15

20

0.95

3.4

0.86

Kembata-Tembaro

66 (15)

7.83

3

15

15

0.96

3.62

0.86

Sidama

62 (14.1)

10.27

3

28

45

0.96

3.5

0.85

Silte

69 (15.68)

10.43

3

24

20

0.96

3.67

0.87

Wolaita

28 (6.36)

3.55

2

7

15

0.93

2.86

0.86

Diversity indices for the eight ethnic groups studied were computed from the numbers of landraces present on the 40 farms within the ethnic (Table 4). Although ethnics differed in richness, they were similar in diversity. The Simpson’s 1-D ranged between 0.97 (Dawro) to 0.9 (Gedeo), H′ ranged between 3.71 for Dawro to 2.6 for Gedeo, while evenness also had a very narrow range: 0.89 for Gurage to 0.8 for Gedeo (Table 4). Both the H’ and 1-D indices were highly correlated with landrace number at each ethnic (r = 0.90 and 0.70). All these values indicate the high enset diversity in these eight ethnic groups.

All ethnic groups in the study area use a combination of different criteria to group enset landraces. We recorded three use categories, as defined by (25), in order of importance: Food (kocho yield and quality, bulla quality, amicho use), fiber (fiber quality) and medicinal/ritual value as described in Table 3. Of the 312 landraces: only 11 landraces having one use type, 56 landraces having two use types and a total of 245 landraces having more than two use types (Fig. 4). In addition, Fig. 5 shows the comparative result of the use categories according to the ethnic groups. Fair analysis between ethnic groups revealed that the highest value for food (kocho yield and quality) were (≥35 house hold/ethnic) observed in all ethnic groups.
Fig. 4

Uses of the landraces recorded in the home gardens of all the communities studied in the SNNPRS, Ethiopia

Fig. 5

Comparative analysis of use category in each ethnic group studied in the SNNPRS, Ethiopia

Almost all of the landraces used for good kocho and bulla yield and quality have got a wider distribution and diversity (Table 5). The fiber uses showed higher values for all ethnic groups. Farmers also reported enset landraces having longer and/or stronger fibers, and higher fiber yield and quality (Table 6). Forty two landraces were identified by farmers for amicho use value (Table 7). In addition, some enset landraces are known by farmers to have medicinal value for both humans and animals. These landraces are poorly producing and to be maintained for special traditional or religious uses (Table 8). Almost all landraces in this category have got sweet amicho test therefore both categories share more than 50 % of the landraces. In addition to the above use value; farmers in each ethnic group use biotic and abiotic tolerance as a trait for diversity maintenance. Fifty and thirty three landraces were identified by farmers as tolerant to enset bacterial wilt and drought (Tables 9 & 10).
Table 5

Number of farmers who are growing the most abundant and widely distributed enset landraces per ethnic group

No.

Landrace name

Number of respondents (N = 40)

Da

Ge

Gu

Ha

Ke

Si

Sil

Wo

Total

ethnic group

1

Ado

     

34

  

34

1

2

Agade

  

38

   

38

 

76

2

3

Ahero

      

19

 

19

1

4

Amiya

15

       

15

1

5

Argama

17

       

17

1

6

Arkeya

21

       

21

1

7

Astara

 

31

21

     

52

2

8

Badedet

24

 

26

   

23

 

73

3

9

Bazereye

  

21

     

21

1

10

Beneze

      

21

 

21

1

11

Bira

     

16

  

16

1

12

Birbo

     

15

  

15

1

13

Boser

  

17

     

17

1

14

Boza

20

       

20

1

15

Chacho

     

15

  

15

1

16

Dere

  

19

     

19

1

17

Dirbo

    

16

   

16

1

18

Desho

   

28

    

28

1

19

Enquafye

  

18

     

18

1

20

Etene

    

18

   

18

1

21

Ferezye

  

23

     

23

1

22

Genbo

   

34

15

 

22

 

71

3

23

Genna

     

21

  

21

1

24

Genticha

 

37

   

39

  

76

2

25

Guarye

      

17

 

17

1

26

Gulumo

     

16

  

16

1

27

Hiniba

      

20

 

20

1

28

Kinbat

      

30

 

30

1

29

Kiticho

     

24

  

24

1

30

Mazia

28

       

28

1

31

Merza

    

16

   

16

1

32

Midasho

     

25

  

25

1

33

Nefo

 

23

      

23

1

34

Qibnar

  

17

     

17

1

35

Seskela

   

25

34

   

59

2

36

Sheleqe/Shelequmia

    

15

  

25

40

2

37

Shirteye

  

22

   

20

 

42

2

38

Shododinia

37

       

37

1

39

Torore/Toracho

 

20

 

19

    

39

2

40

Tuzuma

       

22

22

1

41

Uwisho

     

21

  

21

1

42

Yaka

22

       

22

1

Da Dawro, Ge Gedeo, Gu Gurage, Ha Hadiya, Kem Kembata-Tembaro, Sid Sidama, Sil Silte, Wol Wolayita

Table 6

List and distribution of Enset landraces reported by farmers for better fiber yield and quality

No.

Landrace name

Location

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

No.

Landrace name

Location

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

1

Abatemerza

Kembata-Tembaro

31

23

Lemat

Gurage

17

2

Ayase

Kembata-Tembaro

24

24

Ankefuye

Gurage

20

3

Digmerza

Kembata-Tembaro

28

25

Enba

Gurage

15

4

Ferchase

Kembata-Tembaro

23

26

Yeshirakinke

Gurage

32

5

Zobira

Kembata-Tembaro

19

27

Gimbo

Gurage

30

6

Unjame

Kembata-Tembaro

32

28

Tikur Badadiet

Gurage

24

7

Sapara

Kembata-Tembaro

30

29

Teriye

Gurage

25

8

Gishira

Kembata-Tembaro

32

30

Bedade

Gurage

30

9

Disho

Kembata-Tembaro

21

31

Sabora

Gurage

19

10

Gishira

Kembata-Tembaro

28

32

Toracho

Sidama

17

11

Siskella

Kembata-Tembaro

32

33

Kiticho

Sidama

14

12

Gimbo

Kembata-Tembaro

20

34

Ado

Sidama

26

13

Shetadena

Kembata-Tembaro

14

35

Midasho

Sidama

24

14

Agade

Kembata-Tembaro

18

36

Gena

Sidama

29

15

Mazia

Wolayita

24

37

Wundiraro

Sidama

16

16

Bedade

Wolayita

20

38

Tsella

Dawro

20

17

Gefeteno

Wolayita

26

39

Kertia

Dawro

18

18

Halla

Wolayita

32

40

Yeka

Dawro

22

19

Godoria

Wolayita

20

41

Yesha Mazea

Dawro

26

20

Amaratye

Gurage

22

42

Bota Mazea

Dawro

24

21

Agade

Gurage

24

43

Mecha Boza

Dawro

21

22

Nechiwe

Gurage

20

    
Table 7

List and distribution of Enset landraces reported by farmers for better amicho use quality

No.

Landrace name

Ethnic group

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

No.

Landrace name

Ethnic group

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

1

Sebera

Kembata-Tembaro

37

22

Tessa

Kembata-Tembaro

33

2

Switea

Wolaita

36

23

Fenqo

Gurage

30

3

Sirareia

Wolaita

33

24

Agade

Gurage

23

4

Bose

Kembata-Tembaro

29

25

Musula

Dawro

30

5

Leqaqa

Kembata-Tembaro

31

26

Bukuniya

Dawro

25

6

Neqaqa

Wolaita

29

27

Qibnar

Gurage

32

7

Bino

Kembata-Tembaro

26

28

Qoyina

Kembata-Tembaro

31

8

Shelequmia

Wolaita

33

29

Neqaqa

Dawro

33

9

Matiya

Dawro

30

30

Guariye

Kembata-Tembaro

34

10

Chohot

Gurage

35

31

Argema

Dawro

29

11

Diqa

Dawro

26

32

Arkiya

Dawro

32

12

Keteniya

GamoGoffa

30

33

Niffo

Gededo

33

13

Ashakit

Gurage

29

34

Addo

Sidama

29

14

Gena

Wolaita

32

35

Gedeme

Sidama

33

15

Switeia

Dawro

33

36

Qinware

Silte

32

16

Tuffa

Dawro

27

37

Agincho

Kembata-Tembaro

29

17

Zinka

Dawro

23

38

Tessa

Hadiya

26

18

Astara

Gurage

27

39

Darasicho

Sidama

29

19

Silqantia

Wolaiyta

29

40

Kiticho

Sidama

30

20

Sheleqe

Kembat-Tembaro

30

41

Disho

Kembata-Tembaro

28

21

Gazner

Gurage

33

42

Guarye

Silte

32

Table 8

List and distribution of enset landraces reported by farmers for their medicinal and ritual purposes

No.

Landrace name

Frequency of respondents

No.

Landrace name

Frequency of respondents

1

Addo

12

16

Garercho

15

2

Agade

15

17

Gesher

25

3

Agunited

13

18

Gulemo

17

4

Altecho

11

19

Qeqele

35

5

Arikiya

12

20

Keter

28

6

Askale

10

21

Lochinge

33

7

Astera

18

22

Merze

16

8

Badedet

20

23

Munderaro

19

9

Botate

19

24

Nerim

21

10

Chacho

20

25

Nifo

27

11

Cherkuwa

17

26

Qibnar

26

12

Chovet

22

27

Signore

28

13

Dem woured

31

28

Swetiya

30

14

Dere

29

29

Tenako

19

15

Guarye

28

30

Tesa

29

Table 9

Xanthomonas wilt tolerant cultivars reported/used by farmers in the eight surveyed ethnic group

No

Landrace name

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

No

Landrace name

Frequency of respondents (N = 40)

1

Addo

24

26

Gatecho

26

2

Agade

20

27

Gena

32

3

Ager amer

13

28

Ginbura

21

4

Agunta

15

29

Gishera

24

5

Ahiro

19

30

Gosala

14

6

Altecho

12

31

Kombat

19

7

Amiya

17

32

Kotecha

20

8

Argama

20

33

Kuruma

26

9

Ashekit

21

34

Kuruwa

29

10

Astara

24

35

Maziya

32

11

Badedit

30

36

Midasho

28

12

Banko

19

37

Nechwe

25

13

Baze

20

38

Nifo

14

14

Beker

12

39

Sesekela

27

15

Benezhe

18

40

Shodedine

25

16

Bera

13

41

Shasha

18

17

Berbo

15

42

Sheleqe

20

18

Degomerza

18

43

Shirteye

13

19

Dere

22

44

Tegeded

15

20

Dewarama

18

45

Tsela

17

21

Enba

20

46

Tuzmia

19

22

Enkufaye

21

47

Unjame

22

23

Etne

24

48

Wanadia

20

24

Gadami

18

49

Yesha maziya

28

25

Garado

23

50

Zegez

21

Table 10

List and distribution of Enset landraces reported by farmers as drought tolerant

No.

Landrace name

Location

Frequency of respondents

No.

Landrace name

Location

Frequency of respondents

(N = 40)

(N = 40)

1

Toracho

Sidama

24

18

Kertia

Dawro

19

2

Genticho

Sidama

28

19

Shododina

Dawro

23

3

Nifo

Sidama

19

20

Yesha mazea

Dawro

25

4

Quarase

Sidama

25

21

Bota mazea

Dawro

26

5

Kiticho

Sidama

27

22

Attuma boza

Dawro

22

6

Ado

Sidama

24

23

Bonga arkia

Dawro

17

7

Midasho

Sidama

29

24

Ankefuye

Gurage

24

8

Gena

Sidama

30

25

Enba

Gurage

20

9

Gena

Sidama

30

26

Gimbo

Gurage

29

10

Wundiraro

Sidama

27

27

Tikur badadiet

Gurage

27

11

Ayase

Kembata-Tembaro

23

28

Teriye

Gurage

23

12

Sapara

Kembata-Tembaro

26

29

Bedade

Gurage

30

13

Gishira

Kembata-Tembaro

22

30

Sabara

Gurage

25

14

Unjame

Kembata-Tembaro

24

31

Beneze

Gurage

20

15

Disho

Kembata-Tembaro

25

32

Mazia

Wolita

26

16

Gimbo

Kembata-Tembaro

28

33

Halla

Wolita

29

17

Tsella

Dawro

20

    

Indigenous knowledge on the management of enset diversity

People in the study area maintain their enset farm with considerable structured planting, diversity and flexibility that support production of this livelihood crop. They have managed to select landraces that adapt the local environment and that give multiple benefits. According to the information we obtained during individual interview, key informant and focus group discussion, management and maintenance of on-farm enset diversity is influenced by: (i) systematic propagation of the landraces, (ii) exchange of planting material (iii) selective pressure.
  1. (i)

    Systematic propagation of the landraces

    Systemic propagation of the landraces is practices used by all farmers in the study area to adjust and to maintain the landrace diversity. Almost all farmers in the study area use corms of 3 to 4 years old enset plants with some portion of the pseudostem to produce enset seedlings (Fig. 6 & Table 11).
    Fig. 6

    Systematic propagation of enset. a mother corm ready for burring; b suckers emerged from the mother corm; c 1st stage transplanting; d 2nd stage transplanting; e 3rd stage transplanting; f Matured enset ready for harvesting

    Table 11

    Type of planting materials used by Enset producing farmers

    No.

    Type of planting material

    Frequency(N = 320)

    Percent

    1

    Corm

    238

    73.7

    2

    Suckers

    63

    19.5

    3

    Corm & Suckers

    10

    3.1

    4

    Botanical seed

    0

    0

    Almost all respondents indicated that there are three to four growth stages or frequency of transplanting before harvesting (Table 12). The informants indicated that the propagation starts from the third stages of transplanting (Fig. 6e). Farmers traditionally practiced removal of the central shoot and removal of the apical dominance corms ready for burring (Fig. 6a). Hypothetical question posed in the interviews was what happen if you plant the corm without removal of the central part? The respondents indicated that the removal of the central area helps the propagated corm to produce more number of suckers (≥50 suckers /corm) for next season multiplication (Fig. 6b). The first sucker production stage stays 1 year after emergence from the buried corm (Fig. 6c). In the second stage, the produced multiple suckers from the buried mother corm detached and planted in rows with two to three suckers in a group, or in rows of single plants (Fig. 6d). A consecutive transplanting produces the third stage (Fig. 6e). Farmers’ indicated that the third stage is used as both the source of mother corm for sucker multiplication and harvested for consumption when there is less amount of food in the stock. At the end of the third stage, the suckers are transplanted a fourth time to the permanent field (Fig. 6f). The total time required from first planting to harvesting can be around 7–8 years. The propagation usually carried out in the dry season (November to early February). Farmers propagate a diverse landraces available in the farm. Some multipurpose landraces are propagated by the majority of households interviewed.
    Table 12

    Local names of the different enset transplanting stages

    Location

    1st stage

    2nd stage

    3rd stage

    4th stage

    Dawro

    Halua

    Bashashua

    Gardwa

    Wossa

    Gedeo

    Simma

    Kassa

    Satta

    Daggicho

    Gurage

    Fonfo

    Simma

    Teket

    Hiba

    Hadiya

    Dubo

    Simma

    Ero

    Weasa

    Kembata-Tembaro

    Dubo

    Simma

    Ero

    Ballessa

    Sidama

    Funta

    Awulo

    Qatalo

    Daqicho

    Silte

    Bosho

    Dafaro

    Kiniba

    Waise

    Wolaita

    Halua

    Bashashiya

    Gardwa

    Wasa

     
  2. (ii)

    Exchange of planting material

    Traditional planting material exchange system is an important source of diversity for majority of farmers. Out of the 320 farmers interviewed 249 farmers use corms from their own farms (Fig. 7). One fourth of the 320 farmers’ interviewees mentioned that they often hand out or sell corms/planting material to neighbors or fellow villagers. Neighbors, relatives, and market were the sources of planting material and exchange, gift, purchase and free distribution were the main bases of enset planting material flow. Planting material flow took place inside and outside the village.
    Fig. 7

    Source of planting material in the surveyed zones

     
  3. (iii)

    Selective pressure

    Farmers continue to face many risks because of enset’s vulnerability to biotic and abiotic problems, and global climate change. Landraces which perform better under different biotic stress, and diverse agro-ecological conditions, and having multiple uses should be recommended to these subsistence farm households in order to sustain their livelihoods. Almost all informants stated that the population of enset has declined in recent times both in abundance and in distribution. The factors purportedly responsible for this decline were both agriculture and natural (disease and pest and drought) (Table 13)
    Table 13

    Most frequently reported enset production constraints in the study area

    Major constraints in enset production

    Reported by % of farmers?

    Enset Xanthomonas Wilt

    35.9

    Enset root mealy bug

    34.6

    Leaf hopper

    19.5

    Mole rat

    24.7

    Porcupine

    52.2

    Swine

    12.4

    Corm rot

    52.8

    Drought

    8.9

    Almost all farmers’ reported that Enset Xanthomonas wilt (EXW) had the greatest impact on enset production. Nearly 36 % of farmers reported the existence of EXW in their fields (Table 13). Each respondent was able to name a significant number of vernacular names though not all landraces are planted and maintained in his or her backyard. Prior to the arrival of EXW, farmers in the region would have selected enset landraces for a number of traits. However; this disease causes complete death of the plant within weeks after the first symptoms and it has completely wiped out enset in some areas. The disease has forced farmers to abandon enset production resulting in critical food shortage in the densely populated areas of southern Ethiopia. It is now recognized as a national problem, having increased in severity.

     

Discussion

Strategic importance of enset

Enset is well-established, sustainable, and environmentally resilient farming system that contributes to food security of farmers and, in particular it serves as food security crop in densely populated areas. Enset needs to be present in farmers’ pits throughout the year. Enset is the most important crop in the region. According to 2011 CSA [16] report 3,020,143 km2 of land is covered by enset crop and about 6.9 million quintals of enset yields were produced in 2010/11 production season.

All farmers are using the landraces developed by the community [21]. These landraces have been grown on-farm thousands of years. These enset-growing traditions still continue in the current generation. Enset represents an important cultural plant in the region. This appreciation is consistent with previous studies on the crop [4, 6, 13, 14, 22, 23]. Such cultural importance is reflected in the multiple uses of enset in the traditional ecological knowledge about the crop, its biological attributes, morphological and quality variation, including size, yield and other use value quality recognized by local people among the different ethnic groups.

Indigenous knowledge in naming and classification

Farmers’ rich knowledge that is accumulated on the crop over many years has played a significant role in naming, characterization and maintenance of the existing genetic diversity. Enset producing farmers have their own folk naming and classification system to distinguish one landrace from the other. Sometimes it is difficult to understand and reclassify, even while watching them to characterize. The classification of enset landraces has been accommodated by phenotypic differences, unique traits and specific uses of landraces. As pointed out by [4, 13, 14], these are common characteristics of folk classification systems in enset. Folk nomenclature is an integral part of the variety management in enset farming systems [24, 25]. In view of this, the multitude of names in various folk taxonomic levels indicated the occurrence of on farm genetic diversity at infra-specific level. As indicated by [13], landrace names given by farmers’ have been used as farmers’ diversity unit for estimating unit for the extent and distribution of enset diversity as well as ex situ collection. This is also in agreement where folk taxonomy is used to highlight the amount of genetic diversity [18, 26, 27]. In this study, over 300 landrace names (Table 14) have been identified which indicated the level of on farm genetic diversity. The meaning of the names of most landraces is not known. It is difficult to know unless the people who named it or the place of origin are traced back. It has been repeatedly reported that unexplained meanings of folk names were common in other ethnic groups [13]. A similar pattern was observed in other crops like sorghum and rice [28, 29]. Enset landraces were commonly exchanged and distributed according to the folk names. The finding of this study (Table 5) and other similar studies [13, 14, 21] depict identically named landraces were also reported in more than one ethno-linguistic communities. Folk classification can help in identifying the comparative value of landraces (for example Tables 6, 7 & 8) for proper characterization and pre-breeding activities. A similar study on sorghum in Ethiopia [28] and rice in Nepal [29] has shown that name of the varieties indirectly related showed the functional value for the variety.
Table 14

List of named clones in the eight ethnic groups, Diversity of the clones and richness of the Zones

No

Name of the clone

Silte

Gur

Kem

Had

Wol

Daw

Ged

Sid

TOT

Zones

1-D

Evenness

  

Frequency

           

1

agede

38

38

 

5

 

2

  

83

4

  

2

ager amer

11

       

11

1

  

3

ahero

19

6

1

     

26

3

  

4

anzene

2

       

2

1

  

5

asheket

3

1

      

4

2

  

6

ashure

2

 

1

     

3

2

  

7

astera

6

21

2

1

  

31

 

61

5

  

8

aywepe

8

       

8

1

  

9

badedit

23

26

1

1

 

24

  

75

5

  

10

bamlia

4

 

2

     

6

2

  

11

bazereye

1

21

      

22

2

  

12

beneze

21

3

1

6

    

31

4

  

13

boseda

1

       

1

1

  

14

boser

10

17

      

27

2

  

15

chigezh

1

       

1

1

  

16

dem werer

6

       

6

1

  

17

dere

10

19

3

     

32

3

  

18

dereketa

2

 

2

     

4

2

  

19

Dirbo/Dirbwa

2

2

16

4

    

24

4

  

20

enkufaye

7

18

      

25

2

  

21

Etnete

1

 

18

1

    

20

3

  

22

eyase

1

 

2

     

3

2

  

23

fechecho

1

 

2

     

3

2

  

24

ferezeye

6

23

      

29

2

  

25

gafet

4

       

4

1

  

26

gareye

17

12

3

     

32

3

  

27

genbo

22

10

15

34

    

81

4

  

28

geradiye

1

       

1

1

  

29

ginbura

1

       

1

1

  

30

ginjina

1

 

2

1

    

4

3

  

31

gomboter

2

 

1

     

3

2

  

32

guder

3

       

3

1

  

33

hinib

20

 

1

     

21

2

  

34

kaker ginbo

2

       

2

1

  

35

kaset

2

 

1

6

    

9

3

  

36

keter

1

       

1

1

  

37

kibnar

11

 

1

     

12

2

  

38

kinbat

30

6

      

36

2

  

39

kogogot

1

       

1

1

  

40

kombeter

1

       

1

1

  

41

lemat

1

8

      

9

2

  

42

meriye

2

 

6

8

    

16

3

  

43

mintigre

3

       

3

1

  

44

moche

4

1

4

9

   

1

19

5

  

45

nechewo

3

15

2

     

20

3

  

46

sebera

9

 

2

     

11

2

  

47

sesekila

4

 

34

25

    

63

3

  

48

setner

2

 

3

     

5

2

  

49

shesha shirteye

3

       

3

1

  

50

shirteye

20

22

1

  

1

  

44

4

  

51

showrat

9

  

1

    

10

2

  

52

sino

6

       

6

1

  

53

sorat yebadedit

3

1

      

4

2

  

54

tegeded

11

7

2

     

20

3

  

55

tereye

1

4

      

5

2

  

56

torore/Toracho

3

1

6

19

2

1

20

1

53

8

  

57

uzkurz

1

 

3

8

    

12

3

  

58

Wahe,a

1

 

4

1

    

6

3

  

59

woshamada

7

 

3

     

10

2

  

60

welegele

1

       

1

1

  

61

wunado

3

1

 

6

    

10

3

  

62

yedebir

3

       

3

1

  

63

yesherafere

8

9

      

17

2

  

64

yezer badedit

3

4

1

     

8

3

  

65

zagez

1

       

1

1

  

66

zebre

1

       

1

1

  

67

zeget

2

1

      

3

2

  

68

zelebedadit

5

2

1

     

8

3

  

69

zigiz

1

       

1

1

  

70

amerat

 

4

      

4

1

  

71

anash

 

3

      

3

1

  

72

argama

 

1

4

1

1

17

  

24

5

  

73

art

 

1

      

1

1

  

74

aseso ert

 

1

      

1

1

  

75

azina

 

2

      

2

1

  

76

baritsya

 

1

      

1

1

  

77

botena

 

1

      

1

1

  

78

boza

 

2

   

20

  

22

2

  

79

bukuniya

 

1

   

7

  

8

2

  

80

chehoyet

 

4

      

4

1

  

81

emreye

 

7

1

     

8

2

  

82

enba

 

2

      

2

1

  

83

gasa

 

1

      

1

1

  

84

genbene bazereye

 

1

      

1

1

  

85

genna

 

1

  

6

4

 

21

32

4

  

86

gezit

 

2

      

2

1

  

87

kanchuwe

 

3

 

1

    

4

2

  

88

katania

 

2

   

3

  

5

2

  

89

Kekle

 

2

5

     

7

2

  

90

kuanchewe

 

1

      

1

1

  

91

kushkusheye

 

2

      

2

1

  

92

natsam

 

1

      

1

1

  

93

nech bazer

 

1

      

1

1

  

94

neriye

 

2

      

2

1

  

95

qey b azer

 

3

2

     

5

2

  

96

qibnar

 

17

      

17

1

  

97

serat

 

5

      

5

1

  

98

sheme agaye

 

1

      

1

1

  

99

tederader

 

5

      

5

1

  

100

woret

 

1

      

1

1

  

101

yeilma

 

1

      

1

1

  

102

yekela enset

 

1

      

1

1

  

103

yergeye

 

1

      

1

1

  

104

zegurt

 

1

      

1

1

  

105

abet merze

  

5

     

5

1

  

106

ambo

  

1

     

1

1

  

107

aniya

  

1

     

1

1

  

108

banko

  

2

     

2

1

  

109

cherkuwa

  

1

1

    

2

2

  

110

dego

  

8

2

    

10

2

  

111

desho

  

6

28

    

34

2

  

112

diqaa

  

1

     

1

1

  

113

farachase

  

2

     

2

1

  

114

gesher

  

15

10

    

25

2

  

115

goderete/Godere

  

1

 

1

   

2

2

  

116

gonmora

  

1

     

1

1

  

117

haeala

  

6

 

8

   

14

2

  

118

keberbeye

  

1

     

1

1

  

119

koyena

  

2

6

    

8

2

  

120

lekaka

  

15

1

    

16

2

  

121

menduleka

  

1

     

1

1

  

122

mereze

  

16

7

    

23

2

  

123

mesmes/Mesmesiya

  

2

10

1

   

13

3

  

124

sheleqe

  

15

8

    

23

2

  

125

shesha shirteye

  

2

     

2

1

  

126

sorpe

  

12

     

12

1

  

127

tebere

  

2

     

2

1

  

128

tesa

  

6

5

    

11

2

  

129

udole

  

1

     

1

1

  

130

unjamo

  

16

9

    

25

2

  

131

wacheso

  

2

     

2

1

  

132

walema

  

1

     

1

1

  

133

wolanche

  

5

2

    

7

2

  

134

Bekuch

   

3

    

3

1

  

135

Bose

   

3

    

3

1

  

136

Ezgera

   

2

    

2

1

  

137

Fuga

   

1

    

1

1

  

138

Gozod

   

2

    

2

1

  

139

Haywena

   

10

    

10

1

  

140

hekecha

   

1

    

1

1

  

141

Henuwa

   

5

    

5

1

  

142

Kekir

   

1

    

1

1

  

143

Korin

   

2

    

2

1

  

144

Lokenda

   

3

    

3

1

  

145

separa

   

10

    

10

1

  

146

Shate

   

5

    

5

1

  

147

Shodedina

   

2

    

2

1

  

148

Shumbiratie

   

1

    

1

1

  

149

Sinere

   

6

    

6

1

  

150

Sinkute

   

1

    

1

1

  

151

Sowandiya

   

1

    

1

1

  

152

Ti'ona

   

1

    

1

1

  

153

Zobira

   

4

    

4

1

  

154

ankogena

    

2

1

  

3

2

  

155

alagena

    

9

   

9

1

  

156

anekuwa

    

4

   

4

1

  

157

arekiya

    

6

21

  

27

2

  

158

atane

    

1

   

1

1

  

159

botiya

    

2

   

2

1

  

160

chemeya

    

3

   

3

1

  

161

checheya

    

1

   

1

1

  

162

Dinka

    

1

   

1

1

  

163

gefetanuwa

    

12

   

12

1

  

164

Lenbo

    

5

   

5

1

  

165

lochanegeya

    

2

7

  

9

2

  

166

Mazia

    

4

28

  

32

2

  

167

naqaqa

    

11

   

11

1

  

168

qabarecho

    

4

   

4

1

  

169

qabariya

    

15

   

15

1

  

170

qucha

    

1

   

1

1

  

171

shala qomiya

    

25

1

  

26

2

  

172

sutiya

    

1

1

  

2

2

  

173

tuzuma

    

22

5

  

27

2

  

174

wanaqbariya

    

2

   

2

1

  

175

wanadeya

    

10

   

10

1

  

176

adinona

     

2

  

2

1

  

177

adnar

     

1

  

1

1

  

178

agina

     

7

4

3

14

3

  

179

agunsa areziya

     

1

  

1

1

  

180

alodnita

     

1

  

1

1

  

181

amiya

     

15

  

0

1

  

182

amraga

     

1

  

1

1

  

183

anko maziya

     

6

  

6

1

  

184

ante argal

     

1

  

1

1

  

185

areteya

     

1

  

1

1

  

186

bakiya

     

1

  

1

1

  

187

bala arkiya

     

2

  

2

1

  

188

bale geziya

     

1

  

1

1

  

189

bale maziya

     

1

  

1

1

  

190

bale shedodeniya

     

2

  

2

1

  

191

barjia

     

1

  

1

1

  

192

betaniya

     

1

  

1

1

  

193

betsena

     

2

  

2

1

  

194

banga

     

1

  

1

1

  

195

bosena

     

12

  

12

1

  

196

bota maziya

     

5

  

5

1

  

197

botindira

     

2

  

2

1

  

198

deka

     

1

  

1

1

  

199

deka arikiya

     

2

  

2

1

  

200

digaa

     

1

  

1

1

  

201

ealoria

     

2

  

2

1

  

202

erantia

     

2

  

2

1

  

203

gadeye

     

1

  

1

1

  

204

gamaria

     

2

  

2

1

  

205

giea

     

1

  

1

1

  

206

hal maziya

     

7

  

7

1

  

207

hoindia

     

4

  

4

1

  

208

kareta mati

     

1

  

1

1

  

209

kartiya

     

8

  

8

1

  

210

kekefeya

     

4

  

4

1

  

211

keruma

     

9

  

9

1

  

212

koziya

     

1

  

1

1

  

213

kuruwa

     

12

  

12

1

  

214

macha shededin

     

1

  

1

1

  

215

manjo maziya

     

1

  

1

1

  

216

mataka

     

7

  

7

1

  

217

mushwa

     

1

  

1

1

  

218

samra

     

3

  

3

1

  

219

sanka

     

6

  

6

1

  

220

shedodeniya

     

37

  

37

1

  

221

shemoya

     

3

  

3

1

  

222

shemta

     

1

  

1

1

  

223

shesha

     

2

  

2

1

  

224

shuchfin

     

2

  

2

1

  

225

sirara

     

4

  

4

1

  

226

tsela

     

13

  

13

1

  

227

woaya

     

2

  

2

1

  

228

yaka

     

22

  

22

1

  

229

yapa

     

9

  

9

1

  

230

yerga

     

1

  

1

1

  

231

yesha

     

3

  

3

1

  

232

yesha maziya

     

9

  

9

1

  

233

yiliga

     

6

  

6

1

  

234

zira maziya

     

3

  

3

1

  

235

Denbola

      

8

 

8

1

  

236

deneka

      

2

 

2

1

  

237

Dimoye

      

8

 

8

1

  

238

filil

      

2

 

2

1

  

239

fokonie

      

2

 

2

1

  

240

Foneqe

      

2

 

2

1

  

241

Galasho

      

1

 

1

1

  

242

ganetecho

      

37

39

76

2

  

243

Gatara

      

2

 

2

1

  

244

Gosalo

      

4

10

14

2

  

245

haramo

      

7

 

7

1

  

246

haranjo

      

1

 

1

1

  

247

Helila

      

1

 

1

1

  

248

kake

      

1

 

1

1

  

249

Mundame

      

3

 

3

1

  

250

nefo

      

23

4

27

2

  

251

Qarasie

      

15

 

15

1

  

252

qelitate

      

1

 

1

1

  

253

qeralicho

      

1

 

1

1

  

254

qorqor

      

2

 

2

1

  

255

shasha

      

2

 

2

1

  

256

Shegna

      

2

 

2

1

  

257

toramy

      

6

 

6

1

  

258

adem ado

       

2

2

1

  

259

addo

       

34

34

1

  

260

alom a

       

1

1

1

  

261

altecho

       

9

9

1

  

262

arsho

       

2

2

1

  

263

askale

       

14

14

1

  

264

aydira

       

1

1

1

  

265

batota

       

3

3

1

  

266

berberachu

       

1

1

1

  

267

bericho

       

1

1

1

  

268

bero gantecha

       

1

1

1

  

269

bewot ado

       

2

2

1

  

270

bira

       

16

16

1

  

271

birbo

       

15

15

1

  

272

birdere

       

1

1

1

  

273

bonjo

       

6

6

1

  

274

borganticha

       

6

6

1

  

275

bufere

       

4

4

1

  

276

bulo

       

6

6

1

  

277

chacho

       

15

15

1

  

278

damala

       

2

2

1

  

279

derese ado

       

3

3

1

  

280

dersem

       

1

1

1

  

281

dersete

       

11

11

1

  

282

dewane

       

1

1

1

  

283

deweramo

       

6

6

1

  

284

enboma

       

3

3

1

  

285

gabewo

       

3

3

1

  

286

gademe

       

12

12

1

  

287

gamachala

       

2

2

1

  

288

garbo

       

1

1

1

  

289

goloma

       

1

1

1

  

290

gulumo

       

16

16

1

  

291

haho

       

3

3

1

  

292

hamsesa

       

1

1

1

  

293

hawe

       

1

1

1

  

294

hekece

       

1

1

1

  

295

kanda

       

1

1

1

  

296

keshe

       

6

6

1

  

297

kiticho

       

24

24

1

  

298

kule

       

10

10

1

  

299

lemecho

       

4

4

1

  

300

mada

       

4

4

1

  

301

mendenar

       

8

8

1

  

302

midasho

       

25

25

1

  

303

monofila

       

1

1

1

  

304

nech enset

       

1

1

1

  

305

resecho

       

1

1

1

  

306

sercho

       

1

1

1

  

307

serero

       

2

2

1

  

308

sidera

       

1

1

1

  

309

uwisho

       

21

21

1

  

310

wankore

       

2

2

1

  

311

washa

       

1

1

1

  

312

worm kalo

       

1

1

1

  

Richness of zones

 

69

63

66

51

28

75

26

62

    

Number of rare clones

 

21

26

15

20

15

58

20

55

    

Da Dawro, Ge Gedeo, Gu Gurage, Ha Hadiya, Kem Kembata-Tembaro, Sid Sidama, Sil Silte, Wol Wolayita

Commonly, knowing folk names and classification may distinguish varieties that are actually genetically very closes. Farmer’s in one household generally knows which households certainly have named varieties and their particular agronomic and use value related characteristics. Knowing folk taxonomy also helps in developing planting material distribution, flow channels, and regional landrace map. Thus, even if landrace names and classification are a necessary basis, they are not sufficient to describe genetic diversity. Integrative indicators have been designed e.g., complementing the naming and folk classification with parameters of genetic diversity. Our data thus needs to be complemented by phenotypic and genotypic information which helps to avoid redundancies and optimizing the efficient conservation and sustainable use of the crop.

Level of on-farm richness, diversity and pattern of use

Enset farming systems are rich in landraces diversity. In the study area we recorded a relatively high landraces (312) richness of enset. For instant, in previous studies, comparable results were reported by [21], who described 218 different enset landraces from seven ethnic groups. One hundred eleven enset landraces were also reported from nine growing areas of Ethiopia [7], while [13] described 67 enset landraces from Wolaita zone of the southern region. The number of enset landraces in this study is far higher than what was reported by previous studies which were conducted in zones with similar climatic and altitudinal factors. For instance, [21] reported the presence of 41 landraces in Dawro, which is far below the number of enset landraces reported in the present study. During discussion with the farmers it has been observed that, there were more than 100 enset landraces grown in each locality a few years back, however, farmers reported that most of the landraces were lost due to EXW. Tesfaye [24] also found out that in Sidama zone farmers reported names of 20 enset landraces which were not encountered in any of the farms that were visited. Some enset landraces might have been totally lost from farmers’ fields.

Enset is a multipurpose crop which is utilized for different use values. Based on their use value and folk classification large differences were evident between landrace abundance and distribution in the region. Some landraces, particularly those having merits of better kocho yield and quality have got a wider distribution within and between ethnic groups/zones. For example, the enset landraces ‘Shododenia’ and ‘Addo’ were encountered on respectively 37 and 34 (92.5 and 85 %) farms visited in Dawro and Sidama, but were not found in any other surveyed zones. Some landraces had a very high local abundance at one or two locations and were absent from the rest. For example Shodedenia was encountered on 100 % of the farms visited in Dawro. It was encountered on all the 40 (100 %) farms visited in Dawro. Likewise, [24] reported a small number of landraces (for instant Genticha) playing a dominant role in Sidama zone. Our study revealed that the highest use values of the landraces were found in the region which also corresponds to where the landraces had the highest abundance in the farming system. This suggests a positive relationship between plant abundance and use. These findings corroborate the “apparency hypothesis” which describes dominant, large and more abundant plant species as having the highest use values.

Enset bacterial wilt, caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum, is the most important biotic constraint to enset cultivation [6]. In order to alleviate this biotic stress farmers integrate EXW tolerant landraces in their farms. The kocho yield of these disease tolerant landraces is however below average [26, 27]. Moreover, some enset landraces are known by farmers to have medicinal value for both humans and animals. These landraces are most often poor yielding and are only maintained for special traditional or religious purposes/uses. Those landraces are reported to heal bone fractures, are used for treating diarrhea and during child delivery i.e., assisting the discharge of the placenta. Most reports of medicinal and ritual uses of enset indicate that farmers’ intentionally maintain the landraces together with other landraces. For example, [27] described 14 enset landraces based on their medicinal and ritual use value. Likewise, [26] reported a number of different enset landraces to have medicinal and religious (ritual) significance for preventive treatment, healing and other therapeutic purposes and as protection against evil spirits. Farmers also categorize enset landraces as male or female based on different characteristics [21, 30, 31]. However, the designation of landraces as ‘male’ or ‘female’ is not linked to their reproductive biology. According to farmers, the male enset landraces are drought tolerant. This designation is very important for maintaining landraces for amicho use value. Female landraces are described by farmers as less vigorous, susceptible to disease, having a higher kocho quality and producing edible and tasty amicho [31]. In addition, they are early maturing and have poor fiber strength. Surprisingly, few landraces have more than one use value. For example, the landraces ‘Astara’ and ‘Addo’ are known for their kocho yield and fiber quality. Similarly, in the Kembata area the landrace ‘Siskela’ is maintained by farmers for its high fiber yield and quality in addition to its high kocho yield. Studies by [14, 25] revealed that in most ethnical groups farmers maintain a single landrace for multiple uses. In some cases, poorly producing landraces continue to be maintained for special traditional (e.g., medicinal value) or religious uses. Farmers often maintain low yielding landraces that have medicinal values [25]. Similar observations have been made in banana-based communities in Uganda [32] or in rise systems in Asia [33].

Knowledge of the local usage of enset resources is essential for the elaboration of conservation strategies. This is the first time that the use values according to various ethnic groups in the study area have been evaluated in detail for enset. Overall, we found less diverse ethnic variation in knowledge and use values of enset, as has been found for difference within the same ethnic group [13, 14]. In general, this study and the previous studies have shown that different ethnic groups in the enset farming system demonstrated the existence of considerable amount of indigenous ethnobotany knowledge. High landrace diversity in a region may indicate extended periods of enset cultivation and a more subsistence form of production.

Indigenous knowledge on the management of enset diversity

In the region, farmers’ manage local enset landraces within traditional production and processing systems oriented towards meeting household subsistence needs. Both women and men as producers, selectors, processors and marketers of enset are traditionally the custodians of in situ conservation. Farmers generally choose planting material from their existing mats. Farmers plant their enset landraces mixed on their fields, usually two or ten, but sometimes up to 20 landraces in one plot. It is traditional to use a corm and sucker as planting material and use of different transplanting stages in enset producing farmers. It was found that many households could propagate enset landraces in at least two ways and this flexibility of propagation might also reflect a relative preference for growing in a large area. A similar observation was also reported in other enset growing areas [13, 30, 31]. However it is yet to be identified whether such variations in propagation have some implications on maintenance of diversity in situ. Farmers observe and select the landraces based on their planting intentions for the coming year than the proportion to the quantity they have. This scenario has been maintained by the systematic propagation of 3–4 years old enset landraces. Other study [13] revealed that regular propagation and harvesting restrain; organized assemblage and arrangement of landraces in the home gardens and landrace composition regulation in the home gardens have been the major factor for indigenous management and maintenance of enset landraces on-farm. The rich selection experience on indigenous crop such as enset is also applied to other crops like sorghum [24].

The number of landraces grown at a given locality, their genetic similarity and the areas they occupy over time and space are influenced by planting material source, exchange and supply. Most planting material exchange is local, though a small proportion extends beyond the local group of villages reflecting relationships among neighbors and kin in most cases. All landraces used in the region are local farmer-named varieties. Among the surveyed farms, most farmers produce their own planting material. In addition farmers in the region have fixed systems to ensure the sustenance of planting material supply for each season. Farmers in cereal based farming system have well-established systems to ensure self-sustaining seed supply system and they often operate the exchange of planting material in the local market [34]. In general, on-farm conservation enhances continued source and supply of genetic material and continued diversity-based agriculture as compared to monoculture by ensuring intraspecific and interspecific diversity of crops. Farmers themselves perceived an advantage in continuing to grow diverse traditional crops and their participation in conservation of a traditional seed system proved to be self-sustaining.

Similarly farmers in the region quite frequently practices grow their landraces in mixture to stabilize their crop production, especially under adverse growing condition. Farmers may retain their preferred landraces over many years, often claiming they received no external inputs of seed/planting material. Plant diseases can also reduce the level of biodiversity or limit the variety of plants grown in an area. It have been observed that, the genetic base has been vulnerable to a range of very damaging biotic and abiotic stresses such as Enset Xanthomonas wilt (EXW), enset root mealy bug, leaf hopper, mole rat, Porcupine, wild pigs, corm rot, and drought. It is the EXW which has had the greatest impact on enset production. In Hadiya zone Lemu wereda 30 % of enset crop affected by EXW [35]. Therefore, farmers are forced to develop their copping strategies. Almost all surveyed farmers in the region practice cropping and dietary patterns change and grow more number of disease resistant plants as a strategy for the management of the disease. For instance, [36] indicated genetic diversity can be seen as a defense against problems caused by genetic vulnerability. To reduce the likelihood of spread, establishment and growth of EXW in enset crops, a systematic operational approach to the management of EXW should be adopted. This should include giving training to farmers on appropriate production practices, using healthy suckers and planting in clean soils. Future efforts surely need to focus on developing core collections representative of the widest possible genetic diversity for enset improvement and using this to strengthen in situ or on farm conservation.

Conclusion

The information collected in the region and presented here shows that a certain wealth and diversity of knowledge regarding traditional naming, uses of plants and diversity management as a part of the cultural heritage of the community. Farmers’ have been growing enset for many years. The farmers’ knowledge and enset have been coevolving together. This has resulted in the prevalence of rich indigenous knowledge of the farmers. Any attempt to improve the crop needs to take in to account the farmers knowledge and experience.

Folk naming and classification are not consistent across all ethnic groups. The inconsistency is highly related with the ethnolinguistic variation in the region. Integrated folk-formal classification and characterization will be imperative for management and utilization of on farm genetic resources.

Our study confirms that the landrace diversity and distribution makes it possible to gain a general picture of the uses made of such crop on a macro-scale. A principal conclusion from the present study is that the biggest uses of landraces, in terms of the number of citations in the literatures, are for kocho, bulla, amicho, fiber and medicine. Certain traditional practices (for example spiritual or rituals) also lead farmers to maintain small quantities of uncommon landraces that may not produce well. This scenario points to the importance of use value based and other criteria similarity and differences for landrace diversity maintenance and management. Hence, formal enset improvement program needs to positioned in to multipurpose enset variety development scheme and include farmers and their knowledge in the research-extension continuum.

Landrace diversity in the region is affected by a number of factors. EXW is the main factor limiting enset richness and diversity. Any attempt to improve enset has to give emphasis on enhancement of farmers’ varieties and a systematic operational approach to the management of EXW.

It can be concluded that the existing farmers’ knowledge on naming, classification and diversity should be complemented with maintenance of the creative dynamics of traditional knowledge and transmission of the knowledge are crucial for constructing sustainable management.

Abbreviations

EXW: 

Enset Xanthomonas wilt

SNNPRS: 

Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We thank enset producing farmers in the surveyed Weredas for their participation and sharing of ideas and knowledge on the different aspects of enset diversity. We are also grateful for the development agents that assisted in the interviews with farmers. Due thanks goes to the McKnight foundation for their financial support. The authors would like to thank the Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the Areka Agricultural Research Center for timely provision of the necessary services and facilities. We are grateful to colleagues who have read and commented on the draft manuscript.

Funding

It was declared that the Mcknight Foundation is a funding body in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Availability of data and materials

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article (Table 14).

Authors’ contributions

ZY: Carried out the ethnobotany study, analysis and drafted the manuscript. KT: Conceived the study, followed up the field work and drafted the manuscript. AZ: Carried out ethnobotany study, assisted in writing and producing tables and figures. GB: proof reading of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Zerihun Yemataw, graduate student at Addiss Ababa University (AAU) and full time researcher at Southern Agricultural Institute (SARI) Areka Agricultural Research Center; Kassahun Tesfaye, Assistant professor at AAU; Awole Zeberga, full time researcher at Hawassa University CIDA project; Guy Blomme, full time researcher at BIOVERSITY International.

Competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Areka Agricultural Research Center
(2)
Department of Microbial, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Addis Ababa University
(3)
Addis Ababa University, Institute of Biotechnology
(4)
Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute, Ministry of Science and Technology
(5)
Southern Agricultural Research Institute
(6)
Bioversity International

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