One hundred and forty four finger millet landraces collected from different regions of Ethiopia and some introduced from Kenya, Eritrea, Zambia and Zimbabwe were planted with six improved varieties in randomized complete block design at Gute and Arsi Negele (Ethiopia) during 2011 to assess genetic diversity for qualitative traits with respect to geographic location and agro-ecologies. Erect type growth habit, open ear type, light green ear (glumes) color, enclosed grains by glumes, lower spikelet density and purple black seed color was predominant phenotypic classes for the traits recorded in the present study. At 75% similarity level, finger millet populations from Ethiopia and Eritrea were grouped together; Kenyan, Zambian and Zimbabwe’s landraces formed the second cluster. Agro-ecological proximity was manifested in clustering of landraces on the basis of altitude classes. The resemblance probably implies either similarities in climatic and other edaphic factors of those geographical locations and agro ecologies; selection by farmers were practiced for the same traits, or same primary seed source. Shannon diversity analysis indicated that variation was highest at the lowest level (among landraces), followed by within regions, among regions or countries, within altitudes, with the least similarities appear among altitudes. This implied that intensive collection and in situ genetic conservation should be given due attention at lower class than the subsequent classes.
Key words: Eleusine coracana, finger millet, qualitative traits, Shannon diversity index.