Traditional knowledge associated with uses and cultivation of indigenous watermelon landraces was surveyed in five regions of Mali. Production of local types of watermelon plays an important role for many households. Farmers in charge of the production were mostly men, while women were in charge of seed extraction and processing. In total, ten types of landraces were differentiated, of which seven were seed types. The frequency of the types differed in the five regions, reflecting different agro-ecological conditions and traditions. Red, sweet flesh types used for dessert dominated in the more humid areas of West and Central Mali and were used as a cash crop. White flesh types, mainly grown for their seeds, were more important towards the desert region in the North. Here, a wild type was also used for human consumption. The seed was processed into sauces, snacks, and porridge, contributing fat and protein to the diet. Seed for sowing was sourced on-farm. In West and Central Mali, watermelons were intercropped with cereals. In the North, watermelon was cultivated as a sole crop in the sandy soils. Some of the landraces possess high heat and drought tolerance, a trait of interest to enhance food security in arid and desert areas.
Key words: Citrullus, genetic resources, Mali, survey study, traditional knowledge.
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