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Does social organisation shape crop diversity? A case study among Tharaka farmers in Kenya

Labeyrie V., Leclerc C.. 2012. In : 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology, Montpellier, France, 20-25 mai 2012. s.l. : s.n., p. 2-3. Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology. 13, 2012-05-20/2012-05-25, Montpellier (France).

Identifying the factors that influence crop diversity patterns in-situ is a major challenge for its conservation. Despite the role of farmers in the construction and management of crop diversity, social factors have been widely neglected in this approach. Can different social groups living in the same environment have different folktaxonomy underlying crop diversity ? In the Tharaka community on the Eastern side of Mount Kenya, farmers living in the same neighboring group (ntora) usually cooperate for agricultural tasks. In contrast, cooperation between groups is uncommon and reflects the scarcity of their social relations which limits potentially the exchange of knowledge. Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) folktaxonomies of 95 tharaka farmers belonging to 11 ntora were compared to describe knowledge exchange patterns through social network. Inter-class multivariate analysis was applied to compare crop species and sorghum landraces inventory between ntora. The comparison or crop species inventory between ntora reveals differences. Free lists of sorghum landraces cultivated by tharaka farmers were recorded, enabling us to compare the sorghum folktaxonomy between ntora. The names used by farmers to identify sorghum landraces were significantly different between ntora and reflected differences of folktaxonomy. The influence of social network on crop diversity patterns in- situ is hence discussed.

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