Economic Botany

, 51:6 | Cite as

Indigenous diversity of Cassava: Generation, maintenance, use and loss among the Amuesha, Peruvian upper Amazon

  • Jan Salick
  • Nicoletta Cellinese
  • Sandra Knapp


For cassava (Manihot esculenta Euphorbiaceae), results from field collection, semistructured interviews, phenetic and cluster analyses, and Global Information Systems (G1S) indicate that cassava phenotypes vary with elevation and topography, but less with soils or pests and diseases. Amuesha women with a sense of tradition maintain many cassava varieties along with associated myths, songs, names and indigenous production. The shaman plays a key role in breeding new and maintaining traditional cassava germplasm, while the rest of the tribe nurtures cassava germplasm dynamics through collecting, trading, stealing, maintaining favored cassava varieties, and purging the less desirable. The future of cassava diversity is of concern to some Amuesha as production and market interests surmount more traditional attention to variety.

Key Words

Cassava Manihot esculenta Amuesha Peru diversity 

La Generación, Mantenimiento, Uso y Pérdida de la Diversidad Genética de la Yuca entre el Groupo Indígena Amuesha de la Alta Amazonia Peruana


Resultados de colectas de campo, entrevistas semi-estructuradas, analisis fenetica y de conglomerados y sistemas de information geografica indican quefenotipos de yuca (Manihot esculenta Euphorbiaceae) varían con altura y topografía, pero menos con suelos o plagas insectiles y enfermidades. Las mujeres Amuesha, arraigadas en sus tradiciones indígenas, conservan muchas variedades como parte de un mundo cultural de canciones, mitos, nombres de variedades y métodos tradicionales de uso alrededor de la yuca. El curandero tiene un papel clave en seleccionar nuevas variedades y mantener variedades tradicionales, mientras una buena parte de todos los Amuesha cuidan la dinámica del germoplasma de yuca colectando, intercambiando, prestando sin permiso, manteniendo las mejores variedades y abandonando las variedades no-deseadas. El futuro de la biodiversidad de la yuca is una preocupación de algunos (as) Amuesha por la creciente importancia de criterios de mercado y de productividad en vez de la atención traditional a la misma biodiversidad.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY 10458 U.S.A 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Salick
    • 1
  • Nicoletta Cellinese
    • 2
  • Sandra Knapp
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, Porter HallOhio UniversityAthens
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural BotanyUniversity of ReadingReadingEngland
  3. 3.The Natural History MuseumLondonEngland

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