Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 715–726 | Cite as

Genetic erosion of Ethiopian tetraploid wheat landraces in Eastern Shewa, Central Ethiopia

  • Bayush Tsegaye
  • Trygve Berg
Research article


Ethiopia is a centre of diversity and hosts rich genetic resources of tetraploid wheats. Through time, the wheat materials were subject to genetic erosion. Closer investigation was made to assess the status of loss, and identify the possible causes by studying two districts from East Shewa. Information from primary and secondary sources was reviewed and analysed. Farmers identified 26 tetraploid wheat landraces (21 from Akaki and 17 from Ejere), which were once widely grown in the area. Of these, only six were currently available. Compared to the formerly available number of landraces, the loss of diversity in the study area was estimated to be 77%. In the Ejere locality, the loss was 100% before the launching of the on farm landrace conservation programme, and for Akaki it was 95%. Major factors that contributed to the loss include: (1) introduction and expansion of bread wheat varieties; (2) expansion of tef; (3) lack of a mechanism to re-supply seeds of tetraploid wheat landraces; (4) decline in size of landholdings; (5) changes in land use and cropping patterns; (6) lack of policy support; and (7) expansion of improved tetraploid wheat varieties. The lessons from this study underscore the importance of strengthening the local seed supply system as a prerequisite for sustaining on farm conservation of landraces. Moreover, it is necessary to initiate diversity studies focusing on the distribution and status of tetraploid wheat landraces across the country. Complementing these by molecular analyses is essential in order to assess the genetic distinctness of the landraces.


Ethiopia Genetic erosion Landrace diversity Local knowledge Tetraploid wheat Triticum spp. 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric)The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, (UMB)AasNorway

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