Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 55–77 | Cite as

Changes of Sorghum bicolor landrace diversity and farmers’ selection criteria over space and time, Ethiopia

  • Awegechew Teshome
  • Daniel Patterson
  • Zemede Asfaw
  • Sarah Dalle
  • J. Kenneth Torrance
Research Article


Temporal and spatial changes in sorghum landrace diversity and distribution, field sizes, and farmers’ selection criteria were studied in five agricultural landscapes in North Shewa and South Wollo, Ethiopia. The study was undertaken during 2000/2001 and 2011/2012 cropping seasons in order to ascertain the stability of a range of factors that support the maintenance of sorghum landrace diversity. The same farmers were interviewed and the same sorghum fields were surveyed during both cropping seasons to determine the changes over the 11-year period. Farmers’ selection criteria increased significantly in all agricultural landscapes [Bati (P < 0.0001); Borkena (P < 0.0015); Epheson (P < 0.002); Hayk (P < 0.022); and Merewa Adere (P < 0.05)]. In Bati (P < 0.0081) and Merewa Adere (P < 0.0087), fields planted to sorghum landraces have increased significantly. Changes in field sizes in Epheson (P < 0.36) and Hayk (P < 0.237) did not show significant differences. The field sizes in Borkena (P < 0.0001) have decreased significantly due to population growth, land distribution policy, and seasonal variations followed by inter-and intra-species crop diversification. Sorghum landrace richness has increased significantly in Bati (P < 0.0001) and Hayk (P < 0.0001), marginally increased in Merewa Adere (P < 0.08). No significant changes have been observed in sorghum landrace richness in Borkena (P < 0.344) and Epheson (P < 0.24). In 2011/2012, 24 “generalist” sorghum landraces (grown widely across three or more agricultural landscapes), and 53 “specialist” sorghum landraces (restricted to certain microhabitats in one or two agricultural landscapes) were found. Landrace dynamics in response to farmers’ selection criteria and environmental variations are explained.


Agricultural landscape Diversity Ethiopia Farmers’ selection criteria Landraces-landrace richness Sorghum bicolor Spatio-temporal dynamics 



We are grateful to the generous women and men farmers who shared their knowledge and for their active participation in field data gathering for the production of this research document. Data gathering was financially supported by USC Canada as part of its program monitoring in Ethiopia. The institutional support provided by Ethio-Organic Seed Action (EOSA), Addis Ababa University (AAU), Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC), and Carleton University during field data collections and laboratory analyses is acknowledged with gratitude.


  1. Abdi A, Asfaw Z (2005) In situ (on-farm) conservation dynamics and the patterns of uses of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) landraces in north Shewa and south Wollo, Central Highlands of Ethiopia. Ethiop. J Biol Sci 4(2):161–184Google Scholar
  2. Abdi A, Bekele E, Asfaw Z, Teshome A (2002) Patterns of morphological variation of sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] landraces in qualitative characters in North Shewa and South Wollo, Ethiopia. Hereditas 137:161–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akande IS, Oseni AA, Biobaku OA (2010) Effects of aqueous extract of Sorghum bicolor on hepatic, histological and haematological indices in rats. J Cell Anim Biol 4(9):137–142Google Scholar
  4. Clayton WD (1961) Proposal to conserve the genetic name Sorghum (L.) Moench (Gramineae) versus Sorghum Adams (Gramineae). Taxon 10:242–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de Wet JMJ, Huckabay JP (1967) Origin of Sorghum bicolor, II. Distribution and domestication. Evolution 21:787–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Derbie S, Asfaw Z, Teshome A, Demissew S (2002) Management of agrobiodiversity in the Borkena watershed, South Wollo, Ethiopia: farmers allocate crops/landraces to farm types. Ethiop J Biol Sci 1(1):13–36Google Scholar
  7. Dogget H (1988) Sorghum, 2nd edn. Longman Burnt Mill, HarlowGoogle Scholar
  8. Dogget H (1991) Sorghum history in relation to Ethiopia. In: Engels JM, Hawks JG, Worede M (eds) Plant genetic resources of Ethiopia. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Dyer JA, Teshome A, Torrance JK (1992) A climate analysis package for land use planning in Ethiopia. Can Water Resour J 17(4):311–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Geleta M, Asfaw Z, Bekele E, Teshome A (2002) Edible oil crops and their integration with the major cereals in North Shewa and South Wollo, Central Highlands of Ethiopia: an ethnobotanical perspective. Hereditas 137:29–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harlan JR (1969) Ethiopia: a centre of diversity. Econ Bot 23:309–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harlan JR, de Wet JMJ (1972) A simplified classification of cultivated sorghum. Crop Sci 12:172–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. House LR (1978) A guide to sorghum breeding. International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), PatancheruGoogle Scholar
  14. House LR (1995) Sorghum and millets: history, taxonomy, and distribution. In: Dendy DAV (ed) Sorghum and millets: chemistry and technology. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. PaulGoogle Scholar
  15. IBC (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation) (2007) Ethiopia: second country report on the state of PGRFA to FAO, August 2007, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  16. Marchetti FF, Junior LRM, De Mello Amorozo MC, Gomes DB (2013) Maintenance of Manioc diversity by traditional framers in the State of Mato Grosso, Brazil: a 20-year comparison. Econ Bot 67(4):313–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McGuire J Shawn (2008) Securing access to seed: social relations and sorghum seed exchange in Eastern Ethiopia. Hum Ecol 36:217–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mekbib F (2007) Infra-specific folk taxonomy in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) in Ethiopia: folk nomenclature, classification, and criteria. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 3(38):1–18Google Scholar
  19. National Academy Sciences (1996) Lost crops of Africa. Volume I, grains. National Academy of Sciences, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  20. Reddy BVS, Ramesh S, Reddy PS, Kumar AA (2009) Genetic enhancement for drought tolerance in sorghum. In: Janick J (ed) Plant breeding reviews. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 189–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rosenow DT, Quisenberry JE, Wedt CW, Clark LE (1983) Drought tolerant sorghum and cotton germplasm. Agric Water Manag 7:207–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Singh R, Axtell JD (1973) High lysine mutant gene (h1) that improves protein quality and biological value of grain sorghum. Crop Sci 13:535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Snowden JD (1936) The cultivated races of sorghum. Adlard and Son, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Stemler ABL, Harlan JR, de Wet JMJ (1977) The sorghums of Ethiopia. Econ Bot 31:446–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Teshome A (1990) Uniform productivity areas and land degradation risk in Ethiopia. Masters Thesis, Department of Geography, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  26. Teshome A (1996) Factors maintaining sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] landrace diversity in north Shewa and south Wollo Regions of Ethiopia. PhD Thesis. Department of Biology, Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  27. Teshome A (2001) Spatio-temporal dynamics of crop genetic diversity and farmers’ selections in situ, Ethiopia. IDRC, Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  28. Teshome A (2013) Changes of farmers’ selections and Sorghum farmers’ variety diversity over agricultural landscapes and climatic seasons, Ethiopia. Research report (2000/01 vs. 2011/2012 cropping seasons). USC Canada, 66 ppGoogle Scholar
  29. Teshome A, Dyer JA, Torrance JK (1993) Agroclimatic profiles for uniform productivity areas in Ethiopia. Water Int 18(4):189–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Teshome A, Fahrig L, Baum BR, Torrance JK, Arnason TJ, Lambert JD (1997) Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] landrace variation and classification in North Shewa and South Wollo, Ethiopia. Euphytica 97:255–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Teshome A, Fahrig L, Torrance JK, Lambert JDH, Arnason TJ, Baum BR (1999a) Maintenance of sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] landrace diversity by farmers’ selection in Ethiopia. Econ Bot 53:79–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Teshome A, Torrance JK, Baum B, Fahrig L, Lambert JDH, Arnason JT (1999b) Traditional farmers’ knowledge of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [Poaceae] landrace storability in Ethiopia. Econ Bot 53(1):69–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Teshome A, Brown ADH, Hodgkin T (2001) Diversity in landraces of cereal and legume crops. Plant Breed Rev 21:221–261Google Scholar
  34. Teshome A, Patterson D, Asfaw Z, Torrance JK, Arnason JT (2007) Changes in Sorghum bicolor landrace diversity and farmers’ selection criteria over space and time, Ethiopia. Genet Resour Crop Evol 54:1219–1233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tunstall V, Teshome A, Torrance JK (2001) Distribution, abundance and risk of loss of sorghum landraces in four communities in North Shewa and South Wollo, Ethiopia. Genet Resour Crop Evol 48:131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vavilov NI (1926) Studies on the origin of cultivated plants. State Press, LeningradGoogle Scholar
  37. Vavilov NI (1951) The origin, variation, immunity and breeding of cultivated plants. Roland Press, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  38. Wu YQ, Huang Y, Tauer CG, Porter DR (2006) Genetic diversity of sorghum accessions resistant to greenbugs as assessed with AFLP markers. Genome 49:143–149PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Yemane T, Zeratsion A, Afework K, Berhane G (2009) A dynamic sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) diversity management in situ and livelihood resilience in South and Central Tigray Region, Ethiopia. Momona Ethiop J Sci 1(2):67–94Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Awegechew Teshome
    • 1
  • Daniel Patterson
    • 2
  • Zemede Asfaw
    • 3
  • Sarah Dalle
    • 4
  • J. Kenneth Torrance
    • 2
  1. 1.Seeds of Trust ConsultancyOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Geography and Environmental StudiesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Plant Biology and Biodiversity ManagementAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  4. 4.USC CanadaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations