Enset cultivation in southern and south-western Ethiopia is practiced mainly in densely populated areas. A survey covering 280 farm households and seven districts was conducted in seven zones of southern Ethiopia with the main objective of assessing the diversity and distribution of enset clones. Interviews using structured and semi-structured questionnaires were conducted to generate data. A total of 218 enset clones were recorded in the surveyed areas. The number of clones cultivated on individual farms ranged from two to 26 (mean of 8.9 ± 0.9). The highest richness of enset was recorded in Hadiya (59 clones) whereas the lowest was in Sidama zone (30); the mean richness being 39.7 ± 3.8 clones per zone. Exchange of clones among farmers in different ethnic groups in enset growing regions revealed that strong cultural and linguistic similarities exist between zones. Farmers reported that clones such as Gena and Mazia are replacing previously grown clones due to their resistance to Xanthomonas wilt. Several enset clones previously known by farmers have disappeared in recent years due to disease, extended drought and wild animals, pointing to genetic erosion and the necessity of genetic conservation.
Key words: Abundance, Gurage, Kembata, Mazia, richness, Wolaita.
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