African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6859

Full Length Research Paper

Characterization of sweet potato accessions in Malawi using morphological markers and farmers’ indigenous knowledge system (IKS)

Felistus Chipungu
  • Felistus Chipungu
  • Bvumbwe Agricultural Research Station, P. O. Box 5748, Limbe, Malawi.
  • Google Scholar
Wisdom Changadeya
  • Wisdom Changadeya
  • Department of Biological Sciences, Molecular Biology and Ecology Research Unit (MBERU) DNA Laboratory, University of Malawi, Chancellor College, P. O. Box 280, Zomba, Malawi.
  • Google Scholar
Aggrey Ambali
  • Aggrey Ambali
  • NEPAD African Biosciences Initiative, Policy Alignment and Programme Development Directorate, NEPAD Agency, c/o CSIR Building 10F, Meiring Naude Road, Brummeria, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, 0001, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
John Saka
  • John Saka
  • Department of Education Foundations, University of Malawi, University Office, P. O. Box 278, Zomba, Malawi.
  • Google Scholar
Nzola Mahungu
  • Nzola Mahungu
  • The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Central Africa Hub, 4163, Avenue Haut-Congo, Commune de la Gombe, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Google Scholar
Jonathan Mkumbira
  • Jonathan Mkumbira
  • Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa, P. O. Box 51, Mulanje, Malawi.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 09 August 2017
  •  Accepted: 29 August 2017
  •  Published: 19 October 2017


Characterization of landraces is central to any conservation measures devised for sweet potato in Malawi. Studies were therefore conducted using seven morphological descriptors and farmers’ indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) to investigate the phenotypical diversity of 286 landraces and 35 introductions of sweet potato from the north, south east and lower Shire. The accessions were planted in a check plot design at Bvumbwe Agricultural Research Station. The results showed that farmers’ knowledge (IKS) is a means for preliminary characterization of accessions as evidenced by elimination of 75 duplicate accessions by 12 farmers. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that all accessions and populations were phenotypically variable (p≤0.01) and Chi-square test of the morphological descriptors used in the study varied significantly among the three eco-geographical areas and among the landraces and introductions (p≤0.05 and p≤0.01), implying high variability of the accessions. However, the accessions clustered at 50% dissimilarity and generally irrespective of eco-geographical origin, signifying some similarity probably due to gene flow. Shannon Weaver Diversity Index (H’) indicated that different traits had different source areas of highest diversity which were significantly different (p≤0.05); nonetheless Shire Valley had the highest mean diversity for all traits (H’=0.67) which was significantly different from the other two populations (p≤0.05) inferring that the lower shire would be ideal for in situ conservation of sweet potato diversity.


Key words: Field evaluation, germplasm, phenotype, population, root crop, variability.