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Changes in the diversity and geographic distribution of cultivated millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) varieties in Niger between 1976 and 2003

Bezançon G., Pham J.L., Deu M., Vigouroux Y., Sagnard F., Mariac C., Kapran I., Mamadou A., Gérard B., Ndjeunga J., Chantereau J.. 2009. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 56 : p. 223-236.

Changes in the diversity of landraces in centres of diversity of cultivated plants need to be assessed in order to monitor and conserve agrobioversity-a key-element of sustainable agriculture. This notably applies in tropical areas where factors such as increased populations, climate change and shifts in cropping systems are hypothesized to cause varietal erosion. To assess varietal erosion of staple crops in a country subjected to various anthropogenic and natural environmental changes, we carried out a study based on a comparison of the diversity of pearl millet and sorghum varieties collected in 79 villages spanning the entire cereal-growing zone of Niger over a 26 year period (1976-2003). For these two crops, the number, name and type of varieties according to important traits for farmers were considered at different spatial scales (country, region, village) at the two collection dates. The results confirmed the high diversity of millet and sorghum varieties in Niger. No erosion of varietal diversity was noted on a national scale during the period covered. Some changes were observed but were limited to the geographical distribution of certain varieties. This highlights that farmers¿ management can preserve the diversity of millet and sorghum varieties in Niger despite recurrent and severe drought periods and major social changes. It also indicates that rainfed cereal cropping systems in Niger should remain to be based on millet and sorghum, while reinforcing farmers¿ seed systems. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : sorghum bicolor; pennisetum glaucum; afrique au sud du sahara; niger

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des plantes; Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie; Ecologie végétale

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