The relationships among the multiple criteria that farmers in this study area, the north Shewa and south Wollo regions of Ethiopia, use to select which sorghum landraces to grow were examined in order to assess the extent of synergistic relatedness among them as they fulfilled their roles in meeting the farmers’ goals. Surveys were conducted on 300 randomly selected farmers’ fields during the 2011/2012 cropping season. In each field, the farmers identified the sorghum landraces encountered at 5m intervals along transect lines, spaced 10 m apart; they were also asked to specify the reasons (selection criteria) for growing each landrace. Pearson correlation, t-Tests and Linear Regression analyses were conducted on the twelve most common selection criteria identified. These statistical analyses demonstrated that the individual selection criteria exhibited various degrees of independent functionality while also exhibiting various and significant magnitudes of relatedness (Biomass and Market – r=0.72, R2 =0.52, P<0.00001; Grain Yield and Market- r=0.73, R2 =0.54, P<0.00001; and Biomass and Grain Yield- r=0.79, R2 =0.63, P<0.00001). These results indicate that the farmers’ selection criteria reflect farmers’ needs, knowledge and practices; and also that the heterogeneous adaptive responses of both the genetic resources and the agroclimatic conditions provide for livelihood and environmental benefits. These correlations among the selection criteria will have value when designing and redesigning participatory varietal selection and breeding practices for future development of crop varieties with the adaptive capacities to respond to biophysical variations and sociocultural preferences. It is thus crucial to appropriately recognize and to incorporate the continuing roles of these traditional farmers and their selection criteria in crop enhancement programmes and policies for food and livelihood security.
Key words: Adaptive capacity, agroclimatic variations, diversity, Ethiopia, farmers’ selection criteria, livelihoods, sorghum bicolor landraces, synergism.
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