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  Fruits 72 (5) 306-316 | DOI: 10.17660/th2017/72.5.6
ISSN 0248-1294 print and 1625-967X online | © ISHS 2017 | Fruits, The International Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Horticulture | Original article

Pilot assessment of locally acknowledged morphotypes of Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte) Baill. in southwestern Benin (West Africa)

E.A. Padonou1,2, F.C. Tovissodé3, R. Idohou3,a , V.K. Salako3, L. Fantondji4, R. Vihotogbé1,2,3, B. Fandohan1,2,3 and A.E. Assogbadjo2
1 Ecole de Foresterie et Ingénierie du Bois, Université Nationale d’Agriculture, Benin
2 Laboratoire d’Ecologie Appliquée, Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, 01 BP 526, Cotonou, Benin
3 Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d’Estimations Forestières, Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, 04 BP 1525, Cotonou, Bénin
4 Direction Générale des Forêts et Ressources Naturelles, BP 393, Cotonou, Benin

Introduction – This study was set up to assess the local perception on morphological differentiation within sweet African bush mango tree (Irvingia gabonensis) in southwestern Benin. Materials and methods – Locally acknowledged morphotypes (LAM) and local differentiation criteria were determined, using group discussions with 60 farmers. A total of 120 trees distributed between the fixed LAM were randomly sampled with farmers’ aid. The trees were morphologically characterized based on their leaves (length and width), fruit (length, diameter and mass), seeds (length, diameter and mass), kernels (mass) and fruit flesh (mass and depth). The owners of the 120 trees were questioned for their LAM preference, number of owned LAM trees, propagation methods, and taboos. Data were analyzed through a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Results and discussion – Three LAM were differentiated: (1) a pasty morphotype named ‘woto’, (2) an aqueous morphotype named ‘shito’, and (3) an intermediate morphotype. The MANOVA revealed that contrary to farmers’ perceptions, the accurate prediction of LAM on the field was hard (P›0.05). However, canonical discriminant analysis indicated an overall significant morphological difference between the three LAM (P‹0.001). Although farmers preferred pasty and intermediate LAM, the aqueous LAM was most abundantly found on farms. Twelve taboos and their potential negative impacts were unanimously recognized in the context of I. gabonensis management. Most farmers admitted to have already broken these taboos, particularly the taboo prohibiting plantation of the species. Conclusion – This study highlights an ongoing but stagnating local domestication process for this species. A progressive breaking of non-profitable taboos appears to be a gate for a guided selection process.

Evaluation pilote des morphotypes localement reconnus de Irvingia gabonensis (Aubry-Lecomte) Baill. dans le Sud-Ouest du Bénin (Afrique de l’Ouest).
Introduction – Cette étude a permis d’évaluer la perception locale de la différenciation morphologique du pommier sauvage (Irvingia gabonensis) dans le sud-ouest du Bénin. Matériel et méthodes – Les morphotypes localement reconnus (MLR) et les critères locaux de différenciation ont été déterminés à partir de discussions de groupe avec 60 agriculteurs. Au total, 120 arbres répartis entre MLR ont été échantillonnés au hasard avec l’appui des agriculteurs. Les arbres ont été caractérisés morphologiquement en fonction de leurs feuille (longueur et largeur), fruit (longueur, diamètre et masse), graine (longueur, diamètre et masse), du noyau (masse) et de la chair du fruit (masse et profondeur). Les propriétaires de 120 arbres ont été interrogés sur leur préférence en MLR, le nombre d’arbres à MLR leur appartenant, leurs méthodes de propagation et les tabous. Les données ont été analysées par analyse de variance multivariée (MANOVA). Résultats et discussion – Trois MLR ont été différenciés: (1) un morphotype pâteux appelé ‘woto’, (2) un morphotype aqueux appelé ‘shito’, et (3) un morphotype intermédiaire. Contrairement aux perceptions des agriculteurs, l’identification précise des MLR sur le terrain s’est révélée difficile (P›0,05). Cependant, l’analyse canonique discriminatoire a fait apparaître une différence morphologique globalement significative entre les trois MLR (P‹0,001). Bien que les agriculteurs préfèrent le MLR pâteux et intermédiaire, le MLR aqueux est le plus abondant. Douze tabous et leurs impacts négatifs potentiels ont été unanimement reconnus dans le contexte de la gestion de I. gabonensis. La plupart des agriculteurs ont admis avoir déjà brisé ces tabous, en particulier le tabou interdisant la plantation de l’espèce. Conclusion – Cette étude fait ressortir le processus de domestication en cours mais stagnant du pommier sauvage. Une rupture progressive des tabous non rentables semble être une porte ouverte sur un processus de sélection assisté.

Keywords Benin, African bush mango tree, Irvingia gabonensis, agroforestry system, plant domestication, local perception

Mots clés Bénin, manguier ou pommier sauvage, Irvingia gabonensis, système agroforestier, domestication des plantes, perception locale

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Several scholars investigated the traditional knowledge, distribution range and ecological adaptation of Irvingia gabonensis.
What are the new findings?
  • The study highlights an ongoing local domestication process of I. gabonensis in southwestern Benin. The fruit characteristics clearly distinguish three locally acknowledged morphotypes of the species. Farmers break the non-profitable taboos for effective domestication of the species.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Our findings contribute to understand the domestication process of indigenous fruit species.

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Received: 8 February 2017 | Accepted: 24 August 2017 | Published: 28 September 2017 | Available online: 28 September 2017

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