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Enset (Ensete ventricosum) clone selection by farmers and their cultural practices in southern Ethiopia

Yemataw, Zerihun, Mohamed, Hussein, Diro, Mulugeta, Addis, Temesgen, Blomme, Guy
Genetic resources and crop evolution 2014 v.61 no.6 pp. 1091-1104
cultivars, households, phenotype, Ensete, vigor, farmers, farms, indigenous knowledge, interviews, starch, clones, genotype, color, genetic variation, phenotypic variation, technology, quantitative traits, Ethiopia
Enset, Ensete ventricosum, is a crop that contributes to food security for more than 20 % of Ethiopia’s population. One clone never fulfills all the ecological and social requirements and hence farmers maintain a diverse range of enset cultivars on their farm. The objective of this work was to assess morphological and use value related characterization and document the indigenous knowledge of farmers on classification, cultivation and utilization of enset. A total of 280 farm households in seven zones were surveyed using individual household interviews. The observed traits showed low to high levels of variability among enset clones with a Shannon–Weaver diversity index (H′) value of 0.154–0.827 for bulla (extracted starch) quality and midrib color, respectively. Moreover, the overall H′ mean of 0.399 confirmed the existence of low to medium levels of phenotypic variation. The mean squares due to genotypes were highly significant (P ≤ 0.01) for all the quantitative traits studied, suggesting the presence of substantial genetic variability among the 165 enset clones. Kocho (fermented starch) yield had significant positive correlation with bulla quality and plant vigor. Knowledge of farmers’ practices is currently used to validate agronomic innovations and inform the setting up of a network of phenotype collections managed by farmers.