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Genetic erosion and changes in distribution of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. (Moench)) landraces in north-eastern Ethiopia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2008

H. Shewayrga*
Affiliation:
Sirinka Agricultural Research Center, PO Box 74, Woldia, Ethiopia School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
D. R. Jordan
Affiliation:
Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Warwick, QLD 4370, Australia
I. D. Godwin
Affiliation:
School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
*
*Corresponding author. E-mail: h.desmae@uq.edu.au

Abstract

Ethiopia is believed to be the centre of origin and domestication for sorghum, where sorghum remains one of the main staple crops. Loss of biodiversity is occurring at an alarming rate in Ethiopia and crops, including sorghum, have long been recognized as vulnerable to genetic erosion. A major collection of sorghum germplasm was made in 1973 by Gebrekidan and Ejeta from north-eastern Ethiopia. A new collection of landraces was made in 2003, and these were field evaluated at Sirinka in 2004 along with representative samples from the 1973 collection. Farmer surveys and soil and climate surveys were also performed. Preliminary analysis demonstrated that some important landraces have disappeared either locally or regionally in the past 30 years and many other landraces have become marginalized. Landraces which are less preferred in terms of agronomic value and end use, and introductions, have become increasingly important. Late maturing landraces were found to be particularly vulnerable, with a number disappearing altogether. Farmers have become more risk averse, and factors such as declining soil fertility, more frequent drought and unreliable rainfall, and increased pest infestation have contributed to a change in farmer landrace selection. Data are presented on the variability and unique characters of some of the Ethiopian landraces, and implications for conservation are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © NIAB 2008

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