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Chentoufi L.,Institute Agronomique et Ve te rinaire Hassan II | Sahri A.,Institute Agronomique et Ve te rinaire Hassan II | Arbaoui M.,Institute Agronomique et Ve te rinaire Hassan II | Belqadi L.,Institute Agronomique et Ve te rinaire Hassan II | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine | Year: 2014

Background: Traditional agrosystems are the places were crop species have evolved and continue to evolve under a combination of human and environmental pressures. A better knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the dynamics of crop diversity in these agrosystems is crucial to sustain food security and farmers' self-reliance. It requires as a first step, anchoring a description of the available diversity in its geographical, environmental, cultural and socio-economic context. Methods: We conducted interviews with farmers cultivating durum wheat in two contrasted traditional agrosystems of Morocco in the Pre-Rif (163 farmers) and in the oases of the Atlas Mountains (110 farmers). We documented the varietal diversity of durum wheat, the main characteristics of the farms, the farming and seed management practices applied to durum wheat, and the farmers' perception of their varieties. Results: As expected in traditional agrosystems, farmers largely practiced diversified subsistence agriculture on small plots and relied on on-farm seed production or informal seed exchange networks. Heterogeneity nevertheless prevailed on many variables, especially on the modernization of practices in the Pre-Rif region. Fourteen (resp. 11) traditional and 5 (resp. 3) modern varieties were identified in the Pre-Rif region (resp. in the Atlas Mountains). The majority of farmers grew a single variety, and most traditional varieties were distributed in restricted geographical areas. At the farm level, more than half of the varieties were renewed in the last decade in the Pre-Rif, a more rapid renewal than in the Atlas Mountain. Modern varieties were more prevalent in the Pre-Rif region and were integrated in the traditional practices of seed production, selection and exchange. They were clearly distinguished by the farmers from the landraces, the last ones being appreciated for their quality traits. Conclusions: The surveyed traditional agrosystems constitute open, dynamic and heterogeneous entities. We suggest that competing factors could favour or limit the cultivation of improved varieties and the erosion of original durum wheat diversity. This first description opens the way to focused further investigations, including complementing variety names with cultural, genetic and phenotypic information and unravelling the multidimensional factors and consequences of modern variety adoption. © 2014 Chentoufi et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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