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The demand and use of improved crop varieties by farmers has increased in the central highlands of Ethiopia, where continuous loss of local traditional varieties has been occurring in the last two to three decades. The objectives of the study were to assess the extent of genetic erosion and perception of farmers and associated causes for the reduction of traditional farmers' varieties. Direct field assessment covering 56 wheat farms and a survey in which 149 farmers participated were carried out in three districts of central Ethiopia. Based on data collected during direct farm assessment, the loss of genotypes was found to be 88% in Ada followed by 80% and 60% in Lume and Gimbichu districts, respectively. The farmer survey indicated an even greater loss of diversity of100% in Ada followed by Lume (93%) and Gimbichu (67%). Diseases and pests as well as shorter growing seasons associated with climate change were identified as main causes for farmers to switch to modern varieties. The expansion of high yielding improved bread and durum wheat varieties also contributed to gradually replace local durum wheat varieties by local farmers of these districts. Overall, genetic erosion of tetraploid wheat varied among the three districts of central Ethiopia. Reductions in the number of farmers and area coverage in the study districts could be used as good indicators for the existence of genetic erosion.
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