Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 603-10. 2009.
Conservation and Biodiversity Erosion in Ondo State, Nigeria: (2). Assessing Botanicals Used in the Storage of Farm Produce in Akure region
J. Kayode1,3, O.E Ige1 and B. M. Ojo2
1 Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, Adekule Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria
2Department of Plant Science, University of Ado-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria
Issued 01 May 2009
Semi-structured questionnaire matrix was used to identify plant species used for storage purposes in five communities situated within 5kilometre radius from Akure, the Ondo State capital, south-western Nigeria. A total of 32 botanical species were found to be commonly used in the preservation of farm produce in the study area. The leaves constituted the major part of the botanical that were widely utilised while the major farm produce common in the study area were kola nuts and bitter kola The descriptions of the indigenous knowledge of the various methods of application of the botanicals were identified and documented. Only nine of the botanicals were cultivated abundantly in the study area. The household farm, forest and common area constituted the major primary sources of the storage botanicals. Strategies that could ensure the continuous supply of the storage botanicals were proposed.
Key words: Conservation, biodiversity erosion, botanicals, storage
In Nigeria, recent initiatives had called for comprehensive inventory of natural resources in the country particularly the floristic composition of the various vegetation types as basis for management planning (Ekete et al. 2008). This is particularly necessary in Ondo State where about 200hectares of forest areas are being destroyed annually (Fuwape 2001) through exploitation of timber, fuelwood, shifting cultivation and bush burning.
The effects of such massive deforestation, particularly on the rural dwellers cannot be over-emphasised. Previous studies, such as Akindele (1992), Peters (1996), Olagoke and Adekunle (2008) had enumerated the dependence of rural dwellers on the use of non-timber forest products for their livelihood. One of such utilisations is the use of forest as source of storage materials. Unfortunately, apart from ethnomedicinal utility, gross dearths of documentations abound on other ethnobotanical utilities (Kayode 2003).
Thus, the study being reported here is part of on-going collaboratory studies on the ethnobotanical utilizations in Ondo State being conducted by the Department of Plant Science, University of Ado-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria and the Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods
Five communities viz: Ita-Ogbolu, Ayede-Ogbese, Oba-Ile, Ijare and Odudu, all situated within 5kilometre radius from Akure (70 17’N, 50 10’E) the Ondo State capital, south-western Nigeria, were used in this study. In each community, twenty respondents were randomly selected and interviewed with the aid of a semi-structured questionnaire matrix. The interviews were focused, conversational and involved two-way communication (according to Martins 1995). The information obtained was further ascertained by PRA method (according to Balick and Cox 1996).
Plant species used for storage purpose were identified during the interviews. The part(s) of the plant used, method(s) of application, source(s) where the plants were derived were defined. Voucher specimens of the identified species were obtained and kept in the Herbarium of the Department of Plant Science, University of Ado-Ekiti, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. Vegetation samplings aimed at the definition of the abundance of the species in the study area were also carried out.
Results and Discussion
A total of 32 botanical species were found to be commonly used in the preservation of farm produce in the study area (Table 1). The leaves constituted the major part of the botanical that are widely utilised while the major farm produce common in the study area are kola nuts and bitter kola (Table 2). Table 2 also give the descriptions of the indigenous knowledge of the various methods of application of the botanicals. The conservation features of the botanicals (Table 3) revealed that only nine botanicals were cultivated abundantly in the study area. These species were cultivated mainly for their economic values. They have edible fruits and/or seeds that serve as source of income in the study area. 11 botanicals were cultivated occasionally in the study area for purposes other than for the storage of farm produce. This tends to suggest that the storage potentials of these species could be regarded as secondary or bi products from these botanicals.
The leaves constituted the major part of the botanicals that were utilised. Though the harvesting of the leaves might not be regarded as being inhibitory yet the utilisation of the leaves of non cultivated species whose wildlings were usually unpreserved in the study area might be quite unsustainable. The use of stem bark from E. suaveolens and R. vomitora were inhibitory in harvesting. Previous study by Fasola and Egunyomi (2002) had revealed that such harvesting method might be detrimental to the health of plants or might even lead to their death. The inhibitory nature of harvesting these plants is further complemented by the fact that they were uncultivated species in the study area. These might lead to the scarcity of these species in the study area. The harvesting methods utilized in E. guineensis and Z. mays might not necessarily be inhibitory as the two species were important economic crops that were widely cultivated in the study area.
The household farm, forest and common area constituted the major primary sources of the storage botanicals as 41%, 32% and 16% respectively, of the botanicals were sourced from them. The common area and the household farm constituted the main secondary and tertiary sources of the botanicals. 50% and 25% respectively, of the botanicals were sourced from them. These tend to suggested that while the cultivation of most of the botanicals in household farms is practicable, the forest and common area still play considerable role as the repositories of the storage botanicals in the study area. Thus the continued and wantonly destruction of the environment is quite undesirable to the indigenous communities of the study area. Thus while deforestation is being discouraged in the study area, efforts should also be made to encourage reforestation and afforestation activities in the study area.
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Table 1. Botanicals used in the storage of farm produce in Ondo State, Nigeria.
* BU= Bulb, CH= Charcoal, F= Fruits, IF= Inflorescence, L= Leaves, LA= Latex, S= Seeds, SB= Stem bark.
+ CA= Common area, FR= Forest, HA= Household area, HF= Household farm, PS= Purchased
Table 2. The indigenous knowledge of respondents’ on storage botanicals in Ondo State, Nigeria.
Table 3. The conservation features of the botanicals in Ondo State, Nigeria.