, Volume 15, Issue 13, pp 4289-4308
Date: 16 Dec 2005

Farmers’ Management of Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana L.) diversity in Tigray, Ethiopia and Implications for on-Farm Conservation

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Tigray (region) is one of the major finger millet growing regions in Ethiopia and an important site from an archeobotanical point of view. Three zones of Tigray (east, central and west) were identified as representative sites in the region and a total of 14 districts/ ‘Woreda’ were surveyed. Thirty-seven landraces/farmers’ varieties of finger millet were identified/recorded. Farmers in Tigray undertake pre and post harvest selection in finger millet and sometimes they also select seeds from storage based on a number of attributes. Farmers maintain diversity as a way to ensure harvest security or stability of production, to promote diversity of diet and income sources, minimize crop failure risk, reduce insect and disease incidences and ensure efficient use of labour. The traditional management of finger millet in the entire study area is generally found to be demand driven, showing the existence of potential sites for on-farm conservation. The high morphological diversity (H =0.76 ± 0.09) found in the gene bank collections of Tigrayan origin also reveals the importance of linking ex situ with in situ conservation activities. Furthermore, the enhancement and conservation significance of the crop is discussed.