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Wild and semi-wild edible plants in Chilga District, Northwestern Ethiopia: Implication for food security and climate change adaptation

The study was conducted to assess wild and semi-wild edible plants in food security and climate change adaptation in Chilga district, Northwestern Ethiopia. Various data collection methods; questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews, Focused
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    Full Length Research Paper Wild and semi-wild edible plants in Chilga District, Northwestern Ethiopia: Implication for food security and climate change adaptation Mekuanent Tebkew University of Gondar, P.O. Box. 196. Gondar, Ethiopia E- mail :  Accepted 18 September, 2015 The study was conducted to assess wild and semi-wild edible plants in food security and climate change adaptation in Chilga district, Northwestern Ethiopia. Various data collection methods; questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews, Focused group discussion and market survey were employed. Field observation was conducted to check the availability of these plants in the field. Thirty-three wild and semi-wild edible plants were recorded in the study area. These plants were consumed for supplementing staple food, during emergency periods and as refreshment. Jaccard's Coefficient of Similarity in species use composition (JCS) was 0.7. These wild and semi-wild edible plants in the study area were available in different seasons. The seasonal availability of these plants implies their potential for climate change adaptation and food security throughout all seasons. Key words : Seasonal availability, food security, wild and semi-edible plants INTRODUCTION Wild and semi-wild edible   plants immensely contribute to family household food security and serve as means of survival during times of drought, famine, shocks and risks (Assegid and Abebe, 2011). They can also supplement nutritional requirements due to their better nutrition (Van Andel, 2006; Hunde et al. , 2011). Ethiopia encompasses an astonishing number of ecological zones (IBC, 2007) and wild and semi-wild edible plants (Balemie and Kebebew, 2006; Mengistu and Hager, 2008; Teklehaymanot and Giday, 2010; Assefa and Abebe, 2011). Similarly, in Northwestern parts of Ethiopia, which is endowed with humid, sub-humid, dry, highland and lowland areas, abundant wild and semi-wild edible plants are present. However, the potential of these plants and their seasonal availability to food security and climate change adaptation is not clearly understood. The farmers in Ethiopia face a number of challenges including deforestation, drought, land degradation, food insecurity and climate change (MoARD, 2007) which results serious food insecurity among the households (Sabates-Wheeler et al. , 2012). Thus, in most cases, rural communities depend on wild edible plants (Luelkal et al. , 2011) due to easily accessibility (Hunde et al., 2011 ). Given climate change, level of poverty and environmental Author(s) agreed that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License   ISSN: 2449-1780 Vol. 3 (3), pp. 072-082, September, 2015 Copyright ©2015 Global Journal of Wood Science, Forestry and Wildlife   Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.      Glob. J. Wood Sci. Forest. Wildl.073 Ethiopia 2000000200000K.M 4000000400000800000K.M Amhara RegionChilga District Ethio_RegionAmhara RegionNorth GonderChilga DistrictChalia DebireKuavier LomiyeTenbera kiwaWalideba 3000003000060000K.M N   Figure 1: Location of the study sites in Chilga district, Northwestern Ethiopia degradation there is high risk of biodiversity loss at large scale. Under such circumstances, knowledge and skills of uses and nutritious climatically adapted WEPs will be irreversibly lost. Hence, understanding wild and semi-wild edible with their respective role in food security and climate change adaptation forms a base to apply apt management. However, only 5% of the Ethiopia districts were studied (Luelkal et al. , 2011). Information is lacking about their potential for food security and climate change adaptation in this specific study area. Therefore, this study was initiated to i) identify the distribution of wild and semi-wild edible plants in different land uses, Kebeles and agro-ecologies in the Chilga District, (2) determine the role of wild and semi-wild edible plants in the household livelihood security and climate change adaptation. MATERIALS AND METHODS Site Description The study was conducted in Chilga district, located at N and. It has 43 administrative Kebeles (KA- the lowest administrative units next to district). The altitude of the district is generally ranging from 900 to 2267 m.a.s.l. There are two agroecologies: midland (1500-2267 m.a.s.l) and lowland (900-1500 m.a.s.l). About 33% of the district is midland, while 67 % lowland agro-ecology. There are rivers and streams traversing the district and often serving as sources of water for the population (CDOA, 2012). The major soil covers of Chilga district is 45 % Cambisols, 40 % Vertisols, 15 %, and Nitosols (CDOA, 2012). The natural vegetation of Chilga is mainly composed of various lowland and midland species (CDOA, 2012). The temperature of the district ranges from 11 to 32ºC with mean annual rainfall between 995 to 1175 mm. It had a total population of 241,712 and a total area of 3181   km 2.  The livelihood of the local people is mainly based on subsistence mixed agriculture (crop-livestock production). Selection of Study Sites The study was carried out in four Kebeles of Chilga district from October 8 to December 20 -2012. District and Kebele experts were contacted to have general information. Secondary archived materials were also reviewed from CDOA to get additional information. The socio-demographic and biophysical characteristics of the two agro-ecologies are not the same while Kebeles in the same agroecology had similarity. Thus, based on accessibility for data collection and availability of wild and semi-wild edible plants two KAs from each agroecology (Quavier Lomiye and Tenbera Kiwa from lowland agroecology; and Walideba and Chalia Debire from midland agroecology) and two villages from each KA (Achera and Bele Wuha villages from Quavier Lomiye KA; Gint and Kilel villages from Tenbera Kiwa KA; Bete Skangie and Mehalgie villages from Walideba KA; and  Ateraho and Awugiber villages from Chalia Debire KA) were selected.    Tebkew 074 Selection of Key Informants and Households For this study, key informants (KI) are defined as knowledgeable persons about wild and semi-wild edible plants and local conditions. After selecting two villages at each KA, 24 KI (3 from each village) were selected by using snowball method to collect preliminary data and questionnaire development following the method of Bernand (2002). Then, check lists and questionnaires were prepared to interview KIs and households respectively. Twelve HH were taken in each study villages. Thus, 96 households (from the four KA, 24 households from each) were interviewed for the study assuming 5 % of the population. Data Collection Questionnaires and checklists were prepared, pre-tested and administered to households and KIs, respectively. All interviewees were met on a 'one-to-one' basis and asked the same standard (open- and closed-ended) questions using the local language (Amharic) based on their consent, including expansions or clarifications as needed. Information including vernacular names, parts used and consumption role, time of harvesting and fruiting was also gathered. In addition, traditional management practices, other uses, and threats of wild and semi-wild edible plants were recorded. Repeated field observations were also conducted using transect walk where most of the wild and semi-wild edible plants are grown/cultivated. The purpose of the field observation was to obtain actual information of presence, growth habit, habitat characteristics and identification of edible plant species mentioned during the interviews. A focused group discussion of KI was also conducted at each study site to verify the data and identification of plants. All wild and semi-wild edible plants listed in the socio-economic survey were verified and idiosyncratic ideas (ideas only raised by one individual and were rejected by the group discussion) were removed from the data. Market assessment of underutilized edible plants was conducted in Gint, Negadie Bahire, and Chandeba local markets, which are the nearest markets to the study sites to assess market price of edible plants. All encountered plants were identified and recorded by their vernacular names. Later, converted to their botanical names using flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Hedberg and Edwards, 1989; Edwards et al  ., 1995; Edwards et al  , 1997; Edwards et al  ., 2000; Hedberg et al., 2004 ; Hedberg et al., 2006 ; Hedberg et al., 2009), and own experience. Plant specimens were collected and taken to National Herbarium of Addis Ababa University for plant identification for plants which were not identified at the field. Data Analysis Data collected from interviews and seasonal records of WEPs availability were quantitatively analyzed by SPSS version16 and summarized into frequency tables in percentages. Statistical analysis system (SAS) windows 9.0 was employed for Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The data from ranking methods (direct matrix ranking and preference/priority ranking) was presented in the form of ranks. Data Graph was plotted for seasonal distribution of WEPs. Jaccard’s coefficient of similarity was calcu lated for species use similarity between transhumant and settled farmers. JCS= c/c+b+a, where, a= number of species found only in habitat A (settled farmers), b= is number of species found only in habitat B (transhumant), c= number of species in habitat A and B. Finally, JCS was multiplied by 100, in order to obtain the percentage species composition similarity between the lowland and midland agroecologies (Ladio et al  ., 2006). Results Floristic composition, Habitat distribution and implication for Environmental integrity Thirty-three wild and semi-wild (26 woody and 7 herbaceous) species were recorded in the study area (Table 3). The family Moraceae had 5 species; Malvaceae; Fabaceae and Euphorbiaceae 2 species each and the remaining families had 1 species each. The study showed the habitats of WSEPs were natural forest, riverine forests and valleys, farmlands, boundaries, and home gardens (Table 2). Although the majority of edible plants recorded in the wild, the integration of some plants in farmlands and homegarden indicate their potential to be used in different land use systems. The growth of these plants in different habitats such as in valley, farmlands, home gardens implies the environmental role and integrity in different land use systems. Species use composition in Lowland and Midland Agroecologies Twenty-three (70 %) species out of 33 WSEPs were identified in both agroecologies (midland and lowland). The species use Jaccard's Coefficient of Similarity (JCS) was 0.7. Out of the total WSEPs seven species were consumed only by lowland agroecology while three edible plants utilized only in midland agroecology. Tab 1     Glob. J. Wood Sci. Forest. Wildl.075  Table 1 : Species use similarity between Midland and lowland Agroecologies for WEPs and Jaccard's Coefficient of Similarity (JCS) Spp. Use Categories Total No. Of Spp. Identified Total No. Of Spp. Reported JCS % Similarity In Species used by midland and lowland Midland Lowland Both Agroecologies WSEPs 33 26 30 23 0.7 70 Figure 2 : Consumption roles of wild an semi-wild edible plants in the study area, Northwestern Ethiopia   Consumption of WSEPs The result of this study showed that WSEPs play an important role in maintaining food security (Figure 2). In MLA, about 27 (56 %) and 16 (33.3 %) of the respondents mentioned that WSEPs plants were consumed to supplement the staple food and recreational (refreshment) purpose, respectively. Also 21 % of the respondents consume products of underutilized edible plants during famine and drought to fill food gaps. In the LLA, 67% of the respondents mentioned that underutilized edible plants are used in the normal diet. WSEPs in the study area provide various uses such as fuel wood, fencing, construction, soil and water conservation, shading and shelter, rope making, medicinal, fodder, timber, honey production and washing clothes as detergents in addition to food use (Figure 3). FoT= Food and other uses; Fu=Fuel wood; FE=Fencing; CO=Construction; SC=Soil & Water conservation; FT=Farm and household tools; SH=Shade; M=Medicinal; FD=Fodder; F= Food only; T=Timber; ML Wild and Semi-wild Edible Plants and their Socio-economic Implications Some of the WSEPs in the study area generate income for households through either sales to domestic market or exporting to neighboring countries mainly to the Sudan (Table 2). Twelve WSEPs were marketed in local and international markets. Of the marketable edible plants Tamarindus indica   and Hibiscus cannabinus were the most priced species. From marketed WSEPs majority (83 %) were marketed in the local markets and 17% exported. In general, of all marketable edible plant parts, fruit comprises the highest proportion, about 75 %.    Tebkew 076  Figure 3: Use categories of underutilized edible plants in Chilga district, Northwestern Ethiopia Table 2 : List of marketable wild and semi-wild edible plants in Chilga district, Northwestern Ethiopia Species Name Parts Marketed Unit Mean Price No. Of Respondent Seller Group Market Category Rank Carisa spinarum F Cup 0.83 6 younger D 10 Corchorus olitorius L Handful 2.2 10 all D 8 Diospryos mesiliformis F Cup 0.91 46 younger D 2 Diospyros abyssinica F Cup 0.8 27 younger's D 6 Ficus sur F Cup 0.63 2 younger D 12 Hibiscus cannabinus se Cup 4.33 3 adult Exp. 11 Mimusops Kummel F Cup 1 45 Younger's D 3 Saba comorensis F No. 0.7 35 all D 4 Syzygium guineense F Cup 1 64 younger's D 1 Tamarindus indica se K.g 5.6 21 all Exp. 7 Ximenia americana F Cup 0.95 33 younger D 5 Ziziphus spina- christi F Cup 0.7 9 younger D 9 Parts used:  F=Fruit; Se= seed; L= leaf; Market Category : L= local market; exp. = exported to other countries; Mean unit price is expressed by Ethiopian birr (ETB); Seller age group: local classification of younger below 18 years old and adult from 18-30 year; Note:  Ranks were given by number of respondents.   Seasonal availability of wild and semi-wild edible plants in the study area WSEPs were harvested in different periods of the year (Table 4). According to the respondents, harvesting of WSEPs products at various seasons is due to variation of species in their fruiting calendar. Proportionally higher numbers of plants were recorded in March and June (12 species in each month). Thus, this implies that the local community can consume at any time during normal period, droughts arises; hence, can serve as an insurance response to emergency of climate change and variability. Mode of utilization and Challenges of collection Wild and semi-wild dible plants were eaten in fresh raw form and cooked. Seventy nine % of WSEPs were consumed the fresh uncooked form, while 21 % were eaten after cooking (Tabele 5). Although WSEPs play an important role in food security, the utilization was constrained by different factors. The result here shows that consumption of WSEP was affected by deterioration, cultural ignorance, difficulty for collection and being choice foods (Table 6). 77.1 and 62.5 percent of the respondents said that
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