Infra-specific folk taxonomy in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) in Ethiopia: folk nomenclature, classification, and criteria
1Haramaya University, PO Box 138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
2Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 5503, N-1432, Aas, Norway
3PO Box 485 code 1250, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2007,
3:38doi:10.1186/1746-4269-3-38. [Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License].
Sorghum is one of the main staple food crops for the poorest and
most food insecure people of the world. As Ethiopia is the centre of
origin and diversity for sorghum, the crop has been cultivated for many
thousands of years. Hence, indigenous knowledge based sorghum
classification and naming has a long tradition.
In order to assess folk taxonomy, various research methods were
employed, including, focus group interviews with 360 farmers, direct
on-farm participatory monitoring with 120 farmers, key informant
interviews with 60 farmers and development agents and semi-structured
interviews with 250 farmers. In addition, diversity fairs were
conducted with over 1200 farmers. Assessment of folk taxonomy
consistency was assessed by 30 farmers’ evaluation of 44 folk species.
Farmers have been growing sorghum for at least 500 years (20 generations). Sorghum is named as Mishinga in
the region. Farmers used twenty five morphological, sixty biotic and
abiotic and twelve use-related traits in folk taxonomy of sorghum.
Farmers classified their gene-pool by hierarchical classifications into
parts that represented distinguishable groups of accessions. Folk
taxonomy trees were generated in the highland, intermediate and lowland
sorghum ecologies. Over 78 folk species have been identified. The folk
species were named after morphological, use-related and breeding
methodology used. Relative distribution of folk species over the
region, folk taxonomy consistency, and comparison of folk and formal
taxonomy are described.
New folk taxonomy descriptors have been identified and suggested to
be used as formal taxonomy descriptors. It is concluded that integrated
folk-formal taxonomy has to be used for enhanced collection,
characterisation and utilization of on farm genetic resources.