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Ethnobotanical characterization of scarlet eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum L.) varieties cultivated in Benin (West Africa)
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The African eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum L.) is an important traditional vegetable cultivated in tropical regions for its edible fruits. In the Benin Republic, S. aethiopicum is mainly cultivated by rural farmers for food and for its use in traditional medicine. Assessing varietal diversity, endogenous knowledge, production constraints and farmers' preference criteria are of great importance for promotion and conservation purposes. Using rural appraisal tools and methods, an ethnobotanical study was conducted in 680 households across 92 villages. A total of 60 local cultivars were collected and documented in the surveyed sites. We documented 15 farmers’ criteria for agronomic (57.88% of responses), culinary (28.51%) preference, and for economic (13.61%) aspects. Several constraints related to eggplant production in Benin were also recorded. The low market demand (27% of responses), lack of high-yielding cultivars (11.08% of responses), low fruit storability (10.67%), low productivity (9.84%), soil poverty (8.43%), susceptibility to high soil moisture (8.02%), pests (9.56%), diseases (8.45%), and drought (6.38%) appeared to be the most important constraints of the eggplant production system in Benin. In addition to synthetic pesticides, the eggplant farmers use botanical plant extracts such as extracts from Azadirachta indica (Meliaceae) and Hyptis suaveolens (Lamiaceae). It appears that eggplant production is still traditional and is of limited use in Benin. Finally, the currently collected germplasm was proposed for further evaluation using morphological and molecular markers to provide breeders with traits of interest for developing better eggplant varieties and hybrids that are suitable for local environmental conditions and production systems.
We thank the scarlet farmers for their active collaboration in this study. This work was funded by Laboratory of Biotechnology, Genetic resources, Animal and Plant Breeding (BIORAVE) from ENSBBA - BENIN for the thesis of Scholastique Aguessy.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/7190
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