Journal of Biodiversity Management & ForestryISSN: 2327-4417

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Research Article, J Biodivers Manage Forestry Vol: 6 Issue: 4

The Niche of Tree And Crop in Traditional Home Garden Agro-forestry System- In Case of Agro-biodiversity Conservation at Farm Level in Boricha and Wondo Genet, Sidama, SNNPRs Ethiopia

Galfato Gabiso1* and Tesfaye Abebe2

1Research and Technology Transfer Office Community Service Directorate, Hawassa University, Ethiopia

2College of Agriculture, Hawassa University, Ethiopia

*Corresponding Author : Galfato Gabiso
Research and Technology Transfer Office Community Service Directorate, Hawassa University, Ethiopia
Tel: +251916861436
[email protected]

Received: October 27, 2017 Accepted: November 07, 2017 Published: November 14, 2017

Citation: Gabiso G, Abebe T (2017) The Niche of Tree and Crop in Traditional Home Garden Agro Forestry System- In Case of Agro-Biodiversity Conservation at Farm Level in Boricha and Wondo Genet, Sidama, Snnprs Ethiopia. J Biodivers Manage Forestry 6:4. doi: 10.4172/2327-4417.1000190


The study was carried in traditional home garden agro-forestry farming system in two districts of Sidama, SNNPR Ethiopia. Data was collected by using structural questioners from ninety households including both men and women in the family. In addition to interview a group discussion and farming system observation had been carried to check the respondents answer realty in the areas. The objectives of this study is to identify the ideal tree and crops species grown in traditional home garden agro-forestry system which enhance agro biodiversity, productivity of the land and improve the income of farmers. The study shows that large number of agro-biodiversity was found in near to house of the farmers and decreases far from houses dramatically. Home garden conserves a variety of trees including fruits, firewood, construction, forage, soil enriching and shade for understory crops. The tree species which is broad leaves and leguminous families found near to house and inside the farming plot.They also grows high diversity of vegetables, medicinal plants and spices in their home gardens near to houses. Most of this crop grown near to house to use house residue as organic fertilizer for the crops grown in mixed home garden agroforestry. High nutrient required and have negative effects for the growth of underneath crops maintained at boundary plant, fence and woodlot near to degraded land. Thus tree species conserve for the sack of fuel and construction wood supply for their households. In case of agro biodiversity conservation the results shows that 61 tree and 46 crop and shrub species were
cultivated in traditional home gardens. The high species abundances and richness was observed in Boricha are directly related with the preferences of farmers to cope with climate change stresses. The density of species is significant at (P<0.05) with distance to local market, wealth and number of cattle in home gardens. The large farmsize holding in both sites have small number of species. Farmers having small land size have many in number of trees and species richness thus is mostly large land holding farmers prefers mono cropping than mixed with other crops. The management of agro biodiversity in home garden was mainly carried by women. Almost 90 percent of crop and 10 percent tree species including vegetables, spices , medicinal, ecstatic , fruit and legumes are responsible to conserve by women in study areas. There also finds that farmers have indigenous knowledge in maintaining and conserving of each crop and tree species niche in their farm for their social, economic and environmental benefits. Attention will be given for this knowledge to intervene agro biodiversity conservation activities to select most appropriate conservation strategies. In summer, the livelihood of farmers in the study areas are highly dependent on biodiversity in their farms at ideal niche for each species to fill the need of smallholder farmers. How well these resources are managed determines the quality of life of the people and the sustainability of the production system.

Keywords: Species richness; Sustainability; Farming system; Marglef index; Circa situm


Agroforestry is increasingly being acknowledged as an integrated land use that can directly enhance agro biodiversity and contribute to the conservation of landscape biodiversity, while at the same time increase, diversify and sustain rural incomes. Appropriate combinations of crops, animals and trees in agroforestry systems can not only increase farm yields, they can promote ecological and social resilience to change because the various components of a system, and the interactions between them, will respond in different ways to disturbances. A diversity of species and functions within integrated production systems is therefore a risk reduction strategy, and agroforestry is recognized as an important component in climatesmart agriculture for both its adaptation and mitigation roles [1]. The home garden agroforestry system are composed of an assemblage of plants, it’s an intimate association of multipurpose trees and shrubs, with annual and perennial crops and, invariably livestock within home compound, with the whole system being managed by family labor has been termed as homegarden [2]. Similarly Homegardens in southern central, eastern and western Ethiopia are characterized as backyards, front-yards, side-yards and enclosing yards [3]. Traditional agroforestry homegardens are increasingly recognized as ecosystems for circa situm conservation of agro-biodiversity [4]. There are valid concerns, however, that the biodiversity benefits of agroforestry may be misunderstood and the risks to biodiversity understated. Agrobiodiversity is a vital sub-set of biodiversity Agricultural biodiversity, also known as agro biodiversity or the genetic resources for food and agriculture includes. Harvested crop varieties, livestock breeds, fish species and non-domesticated (wild) resources within field, forest, rangeland including tree products, wild animals hunted for food and in aquatic ecosystems, Non-harvested species in production ecosystems that support food provision, including soil micro-biota, pollinators and other insects such as bees, butterflies, earthworms, greenflies; and Non-harvested species in the wider environment that support food production ecosystems (agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic ecosystems) [5]. Agro biodiversity conservation is tied with rich cultural diversity and local knowledge especially of women, with many principles from traditional systems relevant today for large as well as small-scale production (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Adapted from FAO, 2005.

Traditional home gardens are maintained by 20 million populations in south and south east Ethiopia; represent one possible strategy for biodiversity conservation [6,7]. It plays a vital role in providing firewood, fodder, medicine, fruit, and timber. Home gardens offer a practical response to the following challenges: massive degradation and depletion of forest resources; the rural energy crisis; optimum utilization of already scarce land and environmental improvement and landscape enhancement. Thus, the development and encouragement of home gardens should be one aim of the general policy with regard to natural resource conservation and management [4,8,9].

Home garden are the most source of income and diversified food for subsistence farmers that hadn’t power to buy animal protein (Bioversity International 2016). Although, primarily used for subsistence purposes of the household, are increasingly being used to generate cash income [10-12]. They usually provide between 50 and 80% of total agricultural income [13,14]. The diversity of income sources, as well as the secondary domestic production to meet the household’s subsistence needs is essential assets in the economic security and welfare [15].

In Ethiopia, where the majority of the populations live in rural areas, natural resource is the most important base for life. Poverty and natural resources/environmental degradation are interrelated; that is, as the biodiversity is degraded, productivity is lowered, resulting in decreasing incomes and food security. In situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity must be made an integral part of agricultural development and Ex-situ be supplemented by conservation [16,17]. Strategies to alleviate the problem of natural resource degradation in farm level is maintain in circa situm (maintenance while in agricultural use, e.g. as Home garden) agro biodiversity conservation. Agricultural biodiversity includes all the components of biological diversity relevant to food and agriculture such as crops, trees, fish and livestock, and all interacting species of pollinators, pests, parasites, predators and competitors [18]. But in this study we are focus on farmers managed diversity of tree, shrub, crops and livestock. This is becoming more important as we live in an increasingly changing environment with agricultural developments, global warming, pollution and desertification [19].

The objectives were: (i) to assess the role of home-garden agroforestry system to conserve agro-biodiversity (ii) to assess the contribution of Home garden agro biodiversity for farmers livelihood (iii) To assess the indigenous knowledge of farmers in agro biodiversity conservation niches in traditional home garden agro-forestry system

Materials and Methodology

The sites

The study was conducted in Boricha and Wondo Genet woredas which represent dry and humid lands of Sidama zone, SNNPRS of Ethiopia, respectively. Sidama administrative zone is located within 5º45-6º 45’N latitude and 37.92º-39.19º E longitude, covering a total area of 6981.8 square kilometers [20]. In Boricha the farming system is completely rain-fed agriculture and subsistence oriented, whereas in Wondo Genet, irrigation based commercial farming specially Chat and Vegetables. Integrated farming systems are practiced in both areas such as the crops and livestock (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Map of study site.


Six kebeles and 90 respondents include both men and women household were randomly selected from two woreda. There also two focus group discussion which includes elder and leaders of kebele to study in detail. Primary data were collected using a prepared questionnaire for respondents. Structured and semi-structured interviews were administered to document informants attributes, knowledge and enumeration was made through vegetation inventory. In the semi-structured interview, all interviewees were asked on oneto- one basis, using open- and close-ended questions. Then, following the answers, a series of specific questions were asked on the subject of interest. The plant inventory was performed by using a structured format which included common and botanical names of plants and their abundances. Reflections on species preferences were directly assessed through individual interview. Besides, pair-wise rankings to prioritize the most preferred species using the method described in Udofia [21]. Most of the recorded species were identified on the spot by using tree identification manual of flora of Ethiopia [22]. For species which could not be confirmed on the spot voucher specimens were collected and checked and identified at Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resource herbarium.

Species richness and diversity at the study area were carried out by sampling on quadrants of 10 m ×10 m for tree and shrub [23] and 1 m × 1 m for herbs [24].

Species Richness index were calculated with the help of formula given by Margalaf [25] and the determinants of biodiversity were analyzed using multivariate regression methods.

Species richness index, R=(S-1)/log

Where, R=Species richness index, S=Total number of species

N=Total no. of individuals of all the species

Data were analyzed and interpreted by using SPSS version 17 software. Descriptive statistics such as means, frequency, percentage and standard deviation were used in the study. Household food accessibility and incomes from home garden were calculated by using whole farm budget analysis method. The economic data were analyzed by using basic economic methods of benefits and costs comparison, where

Net Financial Worth of home gardens=B-C

Where, B=benefits and C=costs


Characteristics of the respondents

Most of the respondents were middle aged from 30-50 years while the remaining 11.11% of them are from 51-60 years. All the respondents owned home gardens were located between 0.25ha to 2 ha. Only 21% is own greater than a hectare. The result also shows that most of the respondents have family size between 5-10 numbers (80%) and larger which account 12. 22%.

Niche of crops and trees in home garden farming units

Home garden are a farming system in study areas and or sub system in different parts of the world. Most of farmers have small scale subsistence farmers and only few have commercial farm in Wondo Gent woredas. The large farm size holders were found to have more open space in front of the house for the purpose of threshing, sun drying of grains , raring livestock’s and other activities (Figure 3). Farmers decide on their preference of niches for components in home garden agro-forestry involved and other dictating factors. The fruit Spices and other vegetables crops is most preferred in homesteads next to his houses for ease of management and to obtain different services closely (Figure 3). Surrounding the garden, the farmers use live fences by planting thorniness and climbing-type plants which is not palatable for livestock’s. Mostly Euphorbia species or other short-lived fruit plants like those from Solanceaea family for both fencing and bee forage. This practice enables the land user to keep his farm against attack by wildlife and theft and maintain agro biodiversity of the system at all. The tree and shrub species they grow as live fence and boundary plantation are common in both sites [15,17,26]. In both woredas most farmers select Cordia africana and Millitia furginiea almost all of the farm units. Other species grown under shade of those crop like coffee, Enset and most spices. Basically farmers use each crop or tree according to computability for the other crops including livestock. Tree which is highly nutrient consumed and allelophatic effects decided out of the production unit in marginal degraded areas even they don’t plant good grazing areas. In front of the residence farmers maintain a shade tree in disperse for cultural meeting or to shade cattle’s during warmly season. Crops like maize and chat which needs open space to increase productivity put in far away from residence and a minimum number of trees within a farm unit. The number and diversity of tree and crop are more in near to homestead than other farming units. The picture presentation of niches for components and wealth status of farmers presented below (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Representative home garden with niches of agro biodiversity in different farming units (Land size of A=Poor, B= Medium and C=Rich) and gender roles in the management and control of the units.( Source :-our survey).

Agro-biodiversity of home-garden agro-forestry

A total of 108 plant species under 11 families were recorded from the set of 90 home gardens surveyed. The present study is differ with several studies featured the species inventory of Ethiopian home gardens especially those in the south or southwestern part of the country. Zemede and Ayele [3] reported 162 species of plants in central, eastern, western and southern Ethiopia home gardens, of which 78% were food crops while fruit and vegetable crops constitute 41% and Tesfaye [15] recorded a total of 120 tree and shrub species and78 cultivated crop species. The difference may be size of study area.

The representative diversity of species are crop, tree and shrubs. Of those species, 34 were recorded as tree species (31%), 44 shrub species (41%) and 30 herb species (28%) (Figure 4). It was found that the family Rutaceae ranks top of the list and is represented by 8 species. Fabaceae (7), Myrtaceae (6), Poaceae (6), Solanaceae (5), Euphorbiaceae (4), Rosaceae (4), Asteraceae (3), Celastraceae (3), Lamiaceae (3),and Moraceae (3) are the major plant families identified in the surveyed area (Table 1).

Figure 4: Proportions of trees, shrubs and herbs in the Boricha and Wondogenet.

Predictor Coefficients Std deviation T-ratio Sig.
(Constant) 11.33 4.43 2.55 0.01
Age 0.020 0.072 0.27 0.78
Family size -0.40 0.24 -1.66 0.10***
Farm size 0.36 0.75 0.47 0.63
Distance to local market 4.86 1.29 3.75 0.00**
Education 0.00 0.62 -0.11 0.91
Wealth status 0.00 5.01 -2.97 0.00**
Marital status 2.29 1.74 1.31 0.19
Off-farm activities .000 3715.11 -1.18 .239
Number of cattle 0.64 0.28 2.24 0.03**

Table 1: Determinants of plant biodiversity in the home garden.

The density of species is significantly difference at (P<0.05) with distance to local market, wealth and number of cattle in home gardens (Table 5). Family size was significant at (P<0.1% ), while age, farm size, education and marital status were not significant. The large farm size holding in both sites have small number of species. The small land size in Boricha have large number of agro biodiversity, but in Wondo Genet the number of species is small.

Crop species diversity

High diversity of crops has been found in Boricha and low diversity discovered in Wondo Genet. Kale (Brasica integrifolia), meaiz (Zea mays), enset (Enset ventricosum) are top three species found in all sampled homegarden. Crop species like coffee (Coffee arabica) and banana (Musa paradisiaca) were the most dominate intermediate canopy species in the home gardens. Some of the species like Cassava (Manihot esculenta) were found to be very rare in home gardens. List of crop (Table 2) and their abundance is shown (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Frequency distribution of cultivated crop species across the farms (n=90).

No Local Name Common Name Scientfic Name
1 Shana Cabbage Brasica integrifolia (West) O.E.schulz
2 Badala Maize Zea mays L
3 Wesse Enset Enset ventricosum Welw.Cheesman
4 Avocado Avocado Persea americana Mill.
5 Wahe Harcot bean Phaseolus vulgaris L.
6 Kosirete Koseret* Lippoia adonensis Hochst.Ex Walp.
7 Bunna Coffee Coffea arabica L.
8 chatte Chat Chata edulis (Vahl.) Forssk.ex endl.
9 Muze Banana Musa paradisiaca L.
10 zayitone Zeytuna Psidium guajava L.
11 Tomatume Tomato Llycopersicon esculanta L.
12 Dincha Potato Solamum tuberosum L.
13 Zihone Elphant grass Pennisetum purpureum Schumach
14 karote Carrot Daucus carota L..
15 Xadho Rhu Ruta chalepensis L.
16 Baribaree Pepper Capsicum frutescens L.
17 Keyi sire Red beat Beta vulgaris L.
18 Dadano Wahe Climbing beans Phaseolus lunatus L..
19 Xiqile shanna Head Cabbage Brassica oleracea var.capitata
20 Shunikurta Shallot Allium cepa L.
21 Bakuula Cucumber Cucurbita pepo L.
22 Manigo Mango Mangifera indica L.
23 Besobila Sweet Basi Ocimum basilicum L.
24 Maxaxessa Sweet Potato Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam
25 rodes Rodus grass Chiloris gayana Kunth
26 Enjore Straw berry Fragaria vesca L.
27 Dama kase   Ocimum gratissimum L.
28 Kazimiri Kazimiri Casimora edulis La Llave & Lex.
29 kassava Cassava Manihot esculenta Cranz
30   Rhamnus Rhamnus prinodes L.herit
31 Qolichoma Taro Colocasia esculenta( L.) schoot.
32 Papaya Papaye Carica papaya L
33 Ocholone Peanut Arachis hypogea L.
34 Desimode Desmodium Desmodium unicinatum(Jacq.) DC
35 Akuri atera Soy bean Glycine max L.
36 Koserte Rose mary Rosmarinus officinalis L.
37 Shonkora Sugar cane Saccharum officinarum L.
38 Buritukane Orange Citrus sinensis(L.) osbeck
39 Ananase Ananas Ananas comosus L.
40 Gashshe Tef Eragostis tef(Zucc.) Trotter
41 ananasi Annanas Annona retiaculate L..
42 pechi Peach Prunus persica (L.) Batsch
43 Bohe Yam Dioscorea alata.L.
46 Bakella Faba bean Vica faba L.

Table 2: List of crops in home garden.

Tree species diversity

A total 61 trees and shrub species were recorded in the study area. Cordia afiricana, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Milletia ferruginea, Persea americana and Croton macrostachyus were the top five tree species. Trees scattered inside the farms are almost entirely native species that are complementary to crop production. The selection of scattered trees on their farm is made according to their suitability for entire crop, litter contribution, soil and water conservation, animal forage as well as for provision of different products. The density of trees inside crop fields are 55.4 ha-1 and they are frequently pruned, lopped or pollarded to minimize competition with agricultural crops, and to get firewood. The density obtained is the present study is closer with the report of Tessema [27] and Tesfaye [15] these authors reported about 60 and 66 trees ha-1, in southern Ethiopia.

Diversity of trees is higher in Boricha, while tree coverage in Wondo Genet is dominated by fruit crops, especially avocado and mango. Other fruit trees are also managed for income and small part for home consumption (Table 3).

Tree species code Local name Common Name
1 Wadicho Cordia afiricana Lam.
2 Barizafe Euclyptus camaldulensis Dehn.
3 Hengedicho Milletia ferruginea (Hochst) Baker
4 Buna Coffee arbica L.
5 Gravilla Grevillea robusta A.Cum Ex.R. Br.
6 Milia Melia azedaracha L.
7 Macincho Croton macrostachys Hochst.Ex Del.
8 Hadhessa Olea welwitschii (Knobl.) Gilg & Schellenb.
9 Qonbo Ricinus communis L.
10 Chekata Calpurina aurea (LAM.)Benth
11 Dagucho podocarpus falcatus (Thunb)Mirb(Afrocurpus f.)
12 Ejersa Olea europaea L.ssp. Africana (Mill.)P.S.Green
13 Hechcho Vernonia amygdolina Del.
14 Homme Cupressus lusitanica Mill.
15 Xabaraco Bersama abyssinica Fres.
16 Addoma Euphorbia candelabrum Trem .& Kotschy.
17 Burra Acacia abyssinia Bennth.
18 Shola Erythrinia abyssinica Lam. Ex.Dc
19 Honicho Juniperus procera hochst.Ex Endl.
20 Garibicho Prunus Africana (Hook.F.) Kalkm
21 Warka Ficus vasta Forssk.
22 Hechcho Vernonia auriculifera Hiern
23 Maticho Alibizza gummifera (J.F.Gmel.) C.A. Sm.
24 Welako Ethretia cymosa Thonn.
25 Cucco/ utta Maytenus arbutifolia (A.Rich.)wilczeck
26 Gorra Rubus apetalus Poir.
27 Gobancho Maesa lanceeolata Forssk.
28 Macce Hippocratea africana
29 Qararu Acokanthera schimper (DC.) Oliv.
30 Kinchibe Euphorbia tirucalli L.
31 dugucho Flacouria indica (Burn.f) Merr.
32 Yeabeba zafi Callistemon citrinus (Ciutis) Stapf.
33 Kilixxo Erythrina brucei schweinf
34 Haxawicho Brucea antidysentrica J.F. Miller
35 sesibania Sesbania sesban (L.)Merr.
36 Shisho Celtis africana Burm.F.
37 Rejicho Vernonia auriculifera Hiern
38 Qacha Agava sisalana perr.
39 Charricho Euphorbia abyssinica(Gmel.)
40 Koshim Dovyalis abyssinica (A.Rich) Warb
41 Olonicho Ekbergia Capensis (Sparrman)
42 Qararicho Anningera altissima (A.Chev.) Auberev.& Pellegr.
43 Hechcho Vernonia amygdolina Del.
44 Saticho Phoenix reclinata Jack.
45 Welako Ethretia cymosa Thonn.
46 Ittacha Dodonaea angustifolia L.f.
47 Boribodo Solanum marginatum L.f
48 Embaye/serbo Discopodium penninervum hochest
49 Kinchibe Euphorbia tirucalli L.
50 Dokima Syzigiueem guineense (Wild) DC .
51 Yediredawa Zaf Jacaranda mimosifolia D.Don
52 Odako Ficus sur Forssk
53 Eshohama zafi Ceiba penntandara (L.)Gaetten
54 Kokie Persea american Mill.
55 Duwancho Syzigeem guineen (Wild) DC . Var macrocarpum Engl.
56 Lelcho Diphasia dainellii pichi-Sen DC.) Schweinf.
57 Godicho Fagaropsis angolesis (Eng.)Del.
58 Gesho Rhamnus grinuides L. Hert.
59 Wajo barzafe Eculyptus globulus (Labill)
60 wofiqolo Lantana camara L.
61 akesha Acacia abyssinica Hochst. ex Benth

Table 3: List of trees in home garden according abundance.

The margalf index shows that agro-ecological heterogeneity determines the type and extent of the cultivation of different cereals and trees under consideration. The high species richness was found in Boricha (Table 4). This may be farmer’s strategies to cope with drought and water shortage by increasing less water demanding crops and short season crops. Increasing the number of crop variety increases production especially when rainfall level is lower [28]. In many tropical areas there is already increased cultivation of drought-tolerant plant varieties. Similar trends can be observed in animal husbandry. For instance, camels are replacing cattle and goats in very drought-prone areas of Ethiopia [16] (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Frequency distribution of Tree species across the farms (n=90).

  Crop   Margalef Index
Kebele’s Mean Std. Deviation Mean Std. Deviation
Boricha 22.08 6.02 0.4246 0.149
Qoranigoge 39.6 7.12 0.16 0.015
Yirba Dubancho 31.8 8.27 0.16 0.012
Alabo Arike 31.33 4.45 0.18 0.021
Wondo Genet 16.08 4.38 0.372 0 .120
Wosh Soyama 27.8 3.74 0.23 0.037
Chuko 25.46 4.03 0.25 0.07
Baja fabrica 20.2 5 0.26 0.016
Total 19.08 6.049 0.39 0.137

Table 4: Total and mean of crop species and Margalef index indices.

Farmers indigenous knowledge of agro-biodiversity

Indigenous knowledge of farmers to conserve agro biodiversity in traditional home garden agro forestry has been experienced for long years. Trees, crops and animals have been managed side by side in the system. They have accumulated knowledge in managing the traditional agroforestry components. This accumulated knowledge enables them to identify the properties that make woody perennials suitable for incorporation in to agroforestry practices [15,26,29,30].

The management of these bio-diversity in home garden included collecting of different species of crop, shrub and trees for different uses from wild and out of the region when they are visited. In some common crops farmers mange a number of species and inter species diversity for different uses. One of the most common crop grown in study site is enset (enset ventrocsum) having more than 52 inter species; of which some are used as medicinal and production of high quality product called Bulla [15]. In Boricha most farmers maintain local farmers seed even it have low in yield as compare to that hybrid maize and haricot bean. The selection of crop inter species is based on color, food quality, resistance to biotic and non- biotic stress, time of maturity, yield , medicinal value and so on. The responsibility and control of the resource also differs within house members. Homestead vegetables and spices are merely managed and control by women whereas trees and cash crops somewhere far from homestead are control by men. Indigenous knowledge of farmers in agro biodiversity components of home garden agro-forestry system are described below.

Tree management in home garden

Trees are the key components in home garden agroforestry system. They conserve by family members and are characterized by high species diversity. The structure was maintained by pollarding, pruning and thinning to increase penetration of sunlight. In addition to sunlight, improving soil fertility by leaf litter from punning and thinning of tree crops was important for the dry area.

The selection criteria of ideal type tree species in study site includes attribute to soil fertility, productivity and other services of the tree. Cordia africana, and Millettia ferruginea trees are grown deliberately together with other crop components since their leaves decompose easily and improve soil fertility [15,26,31]. Those tree species which have no contribution in soil fertility improvement but have negative impact on crop production are normally excluded from the farm land and maintained at the farm boundary and/or homestead for their appropriate socio-economic functions. Thus, Cupressus lusitanica and Eucalyptus camaldulensis are some of the tree species that are excluded inside crop feild but retained in other places. This finding agrees with the work of Zebene and Tesfaye [15,26] who noted that farmers in southern Ethiopia exclude eucalyptus inside farms and use Cordia tree for soil enrichment. Abebaw [32] also noted that farmers in Lay-Gayiant district of south Gonder know which tree species and their respective parts contribute to improving soil fertility and Cordia africana is considered by farmers to have positive attributes for soil fertility [15,26,31]. Shade service (for human, livestock and coffee), conduciveness for hanging beehive boxes, ability to improve soil fertility, bee fodder, use for construction, fast decomposability, having low branch volume (to minimize the intensity of shade) and palatable leaves for animals are the selection criteria that are used by the farmers in the study area for incorporation in to the traditional home garden agro forestry practices. Likewise, in the study woredas three canopy strata in home garedn of Boricha and Wondo Genet were identified. The upper storey is dominated by broad-leaved trees (e.g., Cordia, Croton, Milletia) fruit crops (avocado, mango), the middle storey containing ensete, coffee and maize while vegetables, spices, herbs cover the lower canopies. This is in agreement with the previous studies undertaken in southern Ethiopia [2,15,26,31,33]. According to Akitar et al. [4] the strategy of farmers to intensity and diversity crop production along with the vertical strata is a response to small land holding. The important aspect of these gardens is that the production occurs throughout the year, resulting in a continuous food supply throughout the year [16,33].

Crop management practice in home garden

In Boricha, farmers grow root crops, coffee and enset under canopy of trees. The management practice is focused on fertility management and continuous production of food during dry and rain seasons. In Wondo Genet, farmers grow vegetables, sugarcane and chat under the canopy of the trees and some farmers also put as monoculture crop. Fruit crops like avocado and mango dominate in some farms and are perceived as unsuitable for the undergrowth because of high canopy with low light penetration. The management was focused on allowing penetration of sunlight to under growth crops. In both sites farmers have also been undertaking different management practices on the trees they have on their land.

Diversity of food crops especially root crops dominated in Boricha and cash crops like chat (Catha edulis), vegetable and sugarcane are dominant at Wondo Genet. The moisture stress condition in Boricha enforced farmers to cultivate drought tolerant species whereas the availability of irrigation water, relatively good infrastructure and market in Wondo Gent motivated farmers to cultivate year round commercially important cash crops than food crops. This reflects farmers’ responses towards market access and infrastructure [15]. The number of crop species found in Wondo Genet is less than that Boricha, since the farmers at Wondo Genet focused on few high-value cash crops.

Livestock management practices in home garden

Different types of animals are managed along with home garden agroforestry system in both sites. Cattle, sheep, goat, chicken, horse, donkey and honeybees are managed in study site. Sampled farmers in Borecha woreda owns 12 beehives and 10 donkeys. In Wondo Genet, only 5 sampled households and 6 households have behaves and donkeys respectively. There is no difference in other livestock type. With regards to the animal management system, all the poultry were kept on freerange base. The chicken finds most of their food in the form of insects, herbage and seeds. Shelters are constructed for chicken with sticks and enset leaves. Cattle, sheep and goats are kept in a backyard where they are fed on household wastes (enset root, peels, banana peels and other discarded portions). They also graze and browse, farming oxen and horse are fed with agro-industrial by product like bran. There also 45.5% of farmers in Wondo Genet and 33.33% of farmers in Boricha feed them with elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum), desmodium (Desmodium Unicinatum), rhodes grass (Chiloris gayana), and other local fodder plants. During the dry season, in addition to enset leaves farmer’s resorted to maize stock and haricot bean haul as the main source of feed for animals.

Rearing of animals is to satisfy food and income needs of the households. The numbers of animals are directly correlated with land hold size. Large numbers of cattle are reared on average land hold size of greater than one hectare in both sites. From total sampled house hold only 11 households (12.22%) have own greater than one hectare and the number of livestock they own ranges from 4-12. Whereas those own small land size have only own 1-5 livestock. This agrees with the study of Mohammed and Kazi [34]. This author reported that larger farm categories get more income than the smaller farm categories because of having large pieces of land for animal rearing. Animals are also important as source of dung and kitchen waste manure that can be used to manage soil fertilities related problems. In some cases, animal species are kept in or near the garden. Home gardens in the tropics adopt the vertical distribution of biological diversity found in natural communities [35]. The definition given by Inge Hoogerbrugge and Louise Fresco [36] states that of a home garden is a small scale, supplementary food production system by and for household members that mimics the natural, multi-layered ecosystem. In general, vegetable and animal biodiversity should be high in tropical home gardens and different structural arrangements and composition promote high fertility and constant soil humidity [37-40].

Contribution of agro-biodiversity for rural poor and women

Smallholder income is broadly made up of on-farm (agricultural) and off-farm income. Agro biodiversity in home garden is key intervention areas to improve the nutritional need and income of women.

Evelyne Kiptot and Steven Franzel 2012 shows that agroforestry has the potential to offer substantial benefits to women; however, their participation is low in enterprises that are considered men’s domain, such as timber and high in enterprises that have little or no commercial value, such as collection of indigenous fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the degree of women’s involvement relative to men in technologies such as soil fertility management, fodder production and woodlots is fairly high in terms of proportion of female-headed households participating but is low as measured by the area they allocate to these activities and the number of trees they plant. Home gardens are a vital source of income for subsistence economy and contribute to the self sufficiency of households in study sites. This is also true for the home gardens in other tropical countries [41,42]. The systems provide an additional food supply and cash income for the people [43]. The income in study areas involve the money that is accrued from the sales of food crops, tree crops/products and animals and their products. Income from crop was more common in all farms groups and it is followed by income from poultry and livestock. The proportions of income for households of study site are presented (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Percentage of contribution of different plant and livestock to household income.

The percentage contribution of home gardens to average annual gross income was 83.68%, which was greater than the reports from other countries: contribution in Bangladesh 7% [40]. Indonesia 21.1% [44] and Nicaragua 35% [12]. This only agrees with study in Sumatra Indonesia, [13,14] shows that 40 to 80% of total agricultural income.

To find the difference of income between farmers within the similar agro ecological area; we analyze socioeconomic variables (Table 5). The result show that land size, number of plant species and off farm income had significant effect at (0.1%) on annual total income of home gardens (R2=31.3%).

Model Coefficients Mean Std. Deviation t-ratio Sig.
(Constant) 9814.5 16480.74 13065.47 955 0.342
Age of Respondents 128.34 36.9 8.63 818 0.41
Family Size of the Respondents 332.7 7.77 2.43 637 0.5
Farm Size of the respondents 5398.17 95 85 3.574 0.00**
Distance to local market -2230.35 1.5 50 -744 0.458
Education level of respondents 224.84 1.17 1.06 168 0.866
Martial status of respondents 5607.91 1.12 33 1.5 0.136
Off farm income 66 2688.46 3715.11 1.873 0.06***
Number of cattle 35.06 3.43 2.26 0.056 0.95
Number of Spp found in Homegarden -570.91 19.08 6.049 -2.476 0.01**

Table 5: Socio-economic factors influencing the household total annual income.

Home garden are the most source of income for subsistence farmers. Although, primarily used for subsistence purposes of the household, are increasingly being used to generate cash income [10-12]. They usually provide between 50 and 80% of total agricultural income of villagers [13,14]. The diversity of income sources, as well as the secondary domestic production to meet the household’s subsistence needs is essential assets in the economic security and welfare [15]. It is a sustainable multiple-production system whose outputs can be adjusted to local needs. One of the important point which women were highly utilized that of consumes daily for the families, medicinal value, spaces and low income earning crops cultivated nearby to house. This is why women are more care takers to manage agricultural biodiversity in the vicinity.

Most of the respondents (90%) produce their own food crops and rear animals for home consumption and earn income. Home gardening contributes to household food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to family members, often on a daily basis. Similarly, Soleri and Marsh and Talukder [45] showed that gardening provides a diversity of fresh foods that improve the quantity and quality of nutrients available to the family Oram [46] who concluded that agroforestry provide a wider range of products, more secure subsistence or more cash income from diverse products to enable the farmers to buy in food. Studies in four developing countries including Ethiopia suggest that increasing on-farm diversity is not always the most effective way to improve dietary diversity in smallholder households and should not be considered a goal in itself because of foregone income benefits from specialization [9] Similarly, farm diversification may contribute to income growth and stability up to a certain point, but beyond that point further diversification may reduce household income due to foregone benefits from specialization [47].

The important aspect of these gardens is that the production for home consumption occurs throughout the year [15] Fruit trees, Coffea arabica, and Cordia africana in most cases are planted in the home garden together with Ensete ventricosum and, in the case of the Gedeo and Sidama farming systems, supplementary cash crops are produced [26,48-56].

Fuel wood is the main energy source in the rural areas of most of the developing countries. It is another important forest product on which the households are dependent. The majority (74%) of farmers obtained fuel wood from their own farm while 15% get their energy needs partly from their own farm and partly through purchase.


The traditional home garden agro forestry systems are thought to maintain valued biological interactions and biodiversity at higher levels than some of the ‘new’ agroforestry technologies. The agro ecosystems of home garden are more diverse, more permanent, and managed with low input technology. This is an advantage for poor farmers with high agro biodiversity for the changing climate condition to sustain the productivity of their land. The demographic change in population with high rate the size of the farm decrease, the need for integration of tree, crop and animals at small plot of their farm. In thus it is better to find suitable niche for component within their plot otherwise difficult to manage and sustain the system for future. For that it needs further assessment of the interaction effect for overall productivity of the system. This is the fact that farmers actively plant and/or protect trees on their farms can be seen as an indicator of the fact that they appreciate trees in their farming systems. There is increasing evidence that as natural forests get degraded; farmers in many situations have taken up planting and managing of trees on their lands to provide the needed outputs. In the situation they integrate tree, crop and livestock within the best niche like inside crop land, boundary, degraded land and grass land.

Farmers generally do care for diversity in their farming systems. This is particularly true in context of Wondo Genet and Boricha. Farmers plant trees in pursuit of their livelihood goals of income generation, risk management, household food security and optimal use of available land, labor and capital. The diversity of plant and animal species maintained in traditional farming systems over many centuries, and the knowledge associated with managing these resources, constitute key assets of the rural poor.

Diversity management can constitute a central part of the livelihood management strategies of farmers. The density and richness of species is related with the wealth status of farmers, number of cattle owned and distance to main market. For thus it needs strategies to maintain agro biodiversity, by introducing few in number but high milk and meat yielding cows, improving road and market situation specially a species which have low market price but supports the system at large. The most farmers will not maintain or promote diversity just for the sake of it. Nor will they readily keep diversity solely on grounds of longterm ‘stability’ of the system or the future generations. Species that may be of neither immediate nor perceived future benefit are unlikely to be conserved by farmers in their field.

In some cash shortage season of the year in summer farmers will be cut down and sell the trees for to buy foods. There is a possible solution to the problem that farmers may pass such harsh condition. The first solution is supply of credit services for farmers as collateral agreement to maintain trees and repayment of his credit when crop sells after harvest. The second opportunity is rewarding farmers for the agro biodiversity conservation service with global community as strategy for carbon sequestration value.

The farmer’s indigenous knowledge on biodiversity conservation must be important for formulating better policy and institutional arrangements to conserve within farming system to cope with changing climate. In gender point of view women’s are more active conservationist of agro biodiversity in home garden agro forestry system. So, we conclude that care will be given for both Women and men farmers knowledge before formulating agro biodiversity conservation strategy and policy in farm level. This may help for the selection of conservation approaches for some endangered species either in circa situm in farming system or not. Final discussion was being taken to conserve in situ or ex-situ when the crops or trees are not ideal to manage in the farming system. The conservation may support in government through awareness creation, control of invasive species ,proper land use policy and establishment of community gene bank based on in situ and ex-situ conservation sites (EBI, 2014) and like of payments for environmental services [17].


This work was financial supported by the Norwegian Development Aid (NORAD) Project is highly acknowledged. We also thanks to SNNP Regional State Sidama Zone Administration and the staff of Boricha and Wondo Gent woreda Agriculture office experts who help me during the survey. Special tanks also for farmers who agree to interview and allow to entry his farm.


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