F. Merinosy, M.F.; Achigan-Dako, E.G.; Gnanglè, P.C.; Kassa, E.; Boffa, J.-M. Morphotype Classification Criteria and Influence of Sociocultural Factors on Perceived Shea Tree (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn) Natural Variation across Parklands in Benin. Plants 2022, 11, 299. https://doi.org/10.3390/ plants11030299
Traits diversity is crucial to undertake domestication of useful species such as Vitellaria paradoxa that makes significant contribution to rural household economy in Africa. This study aims to document criteria farmers use to distinguish shea trees, how they vary according to age, education level and sociolinguistic group and their perception on trees’ abundance and production; We surveyed 405 respondents across shea parklands in Benin using a semi-structured questionnaire. We used Kruskal-Wallis test to evaluate the influence of sociodemographic attributes on relative criteria citation frequency and Principal Components Analysis to characterize farmers’ perception on morphotypes’ abundance, fruits and butter yields. The five most cited criteria was fruit size (55.5%), tree fertility (15.40%), bark colour (10.51%), timing of production (5.38%) and pulp taste (3.42%). The citation frequency of criteria varied significantly depending on sociodemographic factors considered. Trees having small fruit (‘Yanki’) were reported to be widespread and high fruit/nuts and butter producer. Farmers perceived five important traits with variable importance depending on sociocultural factors studied. This finding is a key step toward the development of shea improvement program that could focus on the morphotype Yanki reported to be potentially high fruit and butter producer.
About the graphic: PCA biplot showing shea morphotypes and their frequency of distribution, fruit, and butter yield characteristics. Yanki = Fruit with small size; Bakanou = Fruit with large size; Saganin = Fruit with medium size; Akô = Male shea tree; Abô = Female shea tree; Kpika = White bark; Wonka= Dark bark; Soarou = Red bark; Nda = Precocious production; Nina = Normal production; Niendembou = Late production; Dourobou = Sweet; Yeni yando = Insipid; HYD = High fruit production; MYD= Average shea fruit production; LYD = Low shea fruit production; NYD = No fruit production; HBT= High amount of butter; MBT = Average amount of butter; Low Butter = Low amount of butter.