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Awareness of plant parasitic nematodes, and preferred maize varieties, among smallholder farmers in East and Southern Uganda: implications for assessing nematode resistance breeding needs in African maize
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In Uganda, nematodes have the potential to cause substantial yield losses, yet it is not known whether farmers have knowledge of the damage these pests cause. A participatory rural appraisal was therefore conducted to assess farmers' awareness of nematodes, and to determine the preferred traits in new maize germplasm. Data were collected from 120 households in two maize-growing districts. Maize roots and soil samples were also collected from farmers' fields, and nematode incidence determined. A small percentage (18.5%) of farmers were familiar with nematodes and the related damage on maize. Pratylenchus zeae occurred at generally higher frequencies than Meloidogyne spp. in the susceptible varieties. The landraces and the cultivar Longe 5 (which reportedly gives the lowest yields) supported high nematode populations. Farmers' most preferred traits were pest and disease resistance, high grain palatability, long storage duration and large kernels. These traits need to be integrated into a breeding programme for nematode resistance in maize.