Barley is an important crop for the North Gondar highlands of Amhara Region, Ethiopia. To assess the characterization of barley landraces, 180 farmers from six villages in three districts of north Gondar zone were selected and surveyed. With regard to distribution status, most of the recorded landraces of barley were endangered. The main end uses of barley in the study area were kolo, beso, tela, injera, korefe, kita and kinche. According to farmers, the main criteria for selecting a variety were varietal characteristics mainly in the pre-harvest operation. The main characteristics for doing so are length of the spike, size of the seed, amount of seed per spike, ability to withstand disease, stand of the plant, tillering ability, number of rows, and germination ability. The majority of farmers renew the seed mostly between 1 and 3 years. The main reasons for renewing are production decline, to prevent landraces from elimination and to increase productivity. The majority of the farmers stated that they do not store seeds for long period of time associated with the fact that they hardly produce any surplus that can be stored for longer years. In barley production, women have roles of joint decisions on number and types of varieties to grow, plot allocation, and storage. However, postharvest processing is mainly decided by women. Farmers have proverbs associated with how much women are important in saving and maintaining barley landraces and make ready when the need arises. Hence, barley genetic resources should be conserved before they are lost and farmers’ variety selection criteria should be incorporated in the modern breeding of barley. The active involvement of women in the maintenance and improvement of landraces should not be undermined in the modern crop improvement programs.
Key words: Ethiopia, barley, landrace, characterization, traits.
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