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Analysis of enset (Ensete ventricosum) indigenous production methods and farm-based biodiversity in major enset-growing regions of Southern Ethiopia

Author:
Tsegaye, A., Struik, P.C.
Source:
Experimental agriculture 2002 v.38 no.3 pp. 291-315
ISSN:
0014-4797
Subject:
Ensete ventricosum, agricultural land, agroecology, biodiversity, crops, drought, farmers, farming systems, farms, genetic variation, households, landraces, livestock, men, planting, population density, production technology, surveys, women, Ethiopia
Abstract:
Enset (Ensete ventricosum) production is declining, and it faces genetic erosion due to drought, diseases and population pressure. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and additional formal survey studies on 315 households were conducted over three consecutive years (1998–2000) in the Sidama, Wolaita and Hadiya ethnic regions of southern Ethiopia to assess traditional cultivation methods, analyse the production systems, and evaluate farm-based enset biodiversity. The regions differ in terms of cultural background, resources, farming systems, population density, and agro-ecology. Furthermore, the methods for initiating suckers and the frequency of transplanting vary among the three regions. Diverse enset landraces were identified in the Sidama (52), Wolaita (55) and Hadiya (59) regions. Sidama farmers had the highest number of landraces per farm, 57% and 21% more than found on Wolaita and Hadiya farms respectively. In all three regions, landrace diversity was influenced by household resources, cultural background, population pressure, and agro-ecology. There were significant differences in the average number of enset landraces and livestock between rich and poor households in the three regions. Rich farmers had more land and manure-producing livestock, and they planted more enset landraces than did poor farmers. In all three regions, women proved to be more experienced than men in identifying enset landraces. The number of enset landraces per farm was significantly correlated with other household characteristics for resource-rich Sidama farmers and with the number of livestock and area of farmland for resource-rich Hadiya farmers. This suggests that middle-income or poor farmers concentrate on annual crops, rather than on growing the perennial enset plant. More research is needed to identify, characterize and conserve genetic diversity, and to improve the cultivation practices for enset. The cultural, socio-economic, and gender-associated aspects of enset cultivation need to be assessed to understand the dynamics of enset biodiversity.
Agid:
318254