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ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS (AUBRY-LECOMTE) BAILL. IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY SYSTEMS IN BENIN
Vihotogbé, Codjia Jean T. Claude, Houessou G. Laurent Romaric
Agricultural Sciences Faculty University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou rvihotogbel@yahoo.fr

Ponette Quentin
Faculty of Biological, Agronomic and Environmental Engineering, Forestry and Water Unit Catholic University of Leuven (UCL), Belgium

Le Boulengé Eric
Faculty of Sciences Catholic University of Leuven (UCL), Belgium

Vihotogbé, Romaric
rvihotogbel@yahoo.fr

ABSTRACT
The bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis) is a multipurpose species Dahomey gap. Its fruits (even nonmatured) are systematically gathered for consumption and marketing. Few studies have been done on the ethnobotany and endogenous practices determining its conservation of the species in Benin. This study aims to produce a database on those aspects in Benin. Two hundred and sixty-three people from the six major socio-cultural groups were interviewed for ethnobotanical knowledge capitalization. Moreover, six hundred and twenty-six hectares of farmland belonging to two hundred and ten peasants were explored to characterize three hundred and thirty-three trees of I. gabonensis for potential endogenous conservation factors. Twenty-five various uses were identified in rural construction (four per cent), in food (eight per cent), energetic (eight per cent), socio-cultural (twelve per cent) and therapeutic (sixty-eight per cent) ways. Global knowledge’s levels vary significantly between socio-cultural groups (P < 0,0001). Global knowledge’s uses also vary significantly (P < 0,0001) and knowledge of the socio-cultural groups varies significantly according to uses (P < 0,0001). In Benin, 49,25% of I gabonensis trees are well protected in the traditional agroforestry systems after their first fructification. Moreover, four factors influence significantly their conservation: (i) the parasitism level of fruits and trees (Ȥ² = 116,57; P < 0,0001), (ii) the département, origin of peasants (Ȥ² = 78,92; P < 0,0001), (iii) the principal agriculture of the peasant (Ȥ² = 54,73; P < 0,0001) and (iv) the endogenous perception on the fruits 'ideotypes' produced by the trees (Ȥ² = 4,48; P = 0,0343).

Keywords: Irvingia gabonensis, ethnobotanic knowledge, endogenous conservation.

IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 197 INTRODUCTION Irvingia gabonensis is a highly valuable and extensively utilized tropical African tree. Cameroon and Gabon have to date progressed a lot. and the predominated cultures are: maize. gabonensis naturally occurs or is (mostly) protected within Traditional Agroforestry Systems. I. gabonensis’ kernel becomes more and more expensive in this country. Aïzo and Adja. and the evidence of economic relations between Benin and its neighbouring countries. Okafor and Fernandes. gabonensis’ agroforestry /conservation statue. 1996). 2005. Shiembo. no similar initiative is carried out in the Dahomey gap. Nigeria. gabonensis in food way in Benin. 1987. It produces a nut that is widely traded (Tabuna 2000) and consumed regionally as a food thickening agent for traditional soups and stews (Leakey. et al. aims to recapitulate ethnobotanic knowledge on this species. mostly during years of rainfall disturbance (Vihotogbé. a lot of juveniles and trees after the first fructification are daily eradicated. The division of Benin into constituencies had been done gathering homogenous socio-cultural groups. while I. exogenous trees plantations. It was identified as high priority species for state of knowledge reports at the Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) workshop held in Limbe in May 1998. If domestication process led by ICRAF and partners. no significant studies have been done to understand the conservation statue of this species in Benin. Those populations practice diverse agricultural systems. it becomes abundant in land use systems through all the Central and West Africa (Okafor 1983. et al. funded by the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (Ainge and Brown 2004). Ngondi. Despite the wide use of I. Tchoundjeu. located between 6°25’7°30’ N (White 1983). in order to analyse the potential factors determining its endogenous conservation in Traditional Agroforestry Systems by rural farmers Benin. While local communities make efforts for its conservation. This reaction from local communities aren’t explained and assessed. cassava. ascensions diversity. Ethnobotanic Study Four villages were randomly sampled in each of departments predominantly populated by each socio-cultural group. 2005). local uses. where nothing is known about I. Thirty to fifty individuals were sampled . Nagot. capacity of production. carried out in 2004–2005. regional and international markets (Tabuna 2000). and this.ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL. Fon. It is classified among the Sub-Saharan’s key Non Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) present on local. 2005. palm oil tree. based on accessions from Ghana. (1995) in Ainge and Brown (2004). It also has therapeutic potentials related by Ndoye and Tchamou (1994) and of Okolo. 2005). Owing to those. etc… This work. et al. METHODOLOGY Study Area This study was carried out within the various socio-cultural groups of the South of Benin. The South of Benin is characterized by a multiplicity of social groups. In this zone. Word Agroforestry Center and his partners (Leakey and Tchoundjeu 2001). et al. et al. pineapple. et al. the sub-humid Guinean zone (Dahomey Gap). and cotton. culturally gathered around 6 principal socio-cultural ones focused in this study: Holli. Goun.

without additional input. leaves. bark. Then. The data collected are the various types of uses with different organs (roots. the nature of the proprietorship between this TAGFS and the peasant. six hundred and twenty-six hectares of farmland/TAGFS belonging to two hundred and ten peasants in the whole of these departments have been prospected. two hundred and sixty-three people. In each departements. C ijk = average individual knowledge level in the sociocultural group j (cj = 1 – r) in the village k (k = 1 to vJ and vj = 4. Cjik = proportion of the total number of types of uses recognized by the individual in the South of Benin. or at last eradicated after first fructification. it had been made an inventory of all factors suspected to influence the decision-making in I gabonensis’ trees preserving after the first fructification in TAGFS. fruits. the total number of I gabonensis trees and their origin (spontaneous. nuts. Together with peasants in each of department. this agroforestry study had a departmental base. “j). On the whole. Agroforestry Study The endogenous conservation of this species was studied considering the homogeneity of large land use systems combined with socio-cultural aspect of those systems’ management. Then. gabonensis’ mature trees have been characterised with different levels of those factors. were interviewed with a structured questionnaire (Table 1).198 INDILINGA – AFRICAN JOURNAL OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Vol 6 (2) 2007 per socio-cultural group. those TAGFS with all the 337 I. transplanted or planted). Then. The distribution of the socio-cultural groups within departments in the South Benin appears in table 1. the characterization of fruits 'ideotypes' produced by trees according to local communities appreciations. the parasitism level of trees and fruits (which express their economical value). or well protected with addition of organic or mineral manure (NPK) as fertilizer. kernels) of I. the origin of juveniles. its principal agriculture. men/household’s responsible. traditional priests and practitioners). from every socio-professional categories (youths. Cj was calculated according to . with Cjk = (1/njk)6(c = 1-njk)Cijk = individual knowledge level. njk = total number of interviewed individual in the socio-cultural group j in the village k. STATISTIC ANALYSIS ETHNOBOTANIC DATA Two types of ethnobotanic knowledge level have been defined: Socio-cultural groups' knowledge The level of their ethnobotanic knowledge noted the formula: Cj = (1/vj)6(1-vj) Cjk = (1/vj)6(k=1-vj) [(1/njk)6(i=1-njk) Cijk] (1). gabonensis. stems. trees can be ordinarily well preserved. women. Those factors justify the treatments applied to trees by peasant. There are: farmland size.

ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL. AGROFORESTRY STUDY: ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION FACTORS In this step. the coefficient of variation is CVuI = [Sui / Cui] x 100 (4). Its the probability to preserve a tree being in a specified combinaison of the different levels of cofacteurs identified as significant during the procedure of the analysis. The Holli and Nagot peoples have .0001). nijk = a total number of individual interviewed in the socio-cultural group j in the village k. in food (8%). Cui = mean level of knowledge for the type of use i. use and their interaction on the level of ethnobotanic knowledge.1. this can be used to describe the better conditions for I.1. For each socio-cultural group. IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 199 An analysis of Variance (ANOVA II) was performed with software SAS 9. gabonensis conservation. (8%) sociocultural (12%) and in majority in therapeutic (68%) purposes (Table 2). energetic. twenty-five types of use were recapitulated for every organ in rural construction (4%). mijk = total number of individual in the socio-cultural group j in the village k knowing the type of use i. With those significant factors. RESULTS ETHNOBOTANIC KNOWLEDGE: DIVERSITY AND LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE For all the socio-cultural groups. the “Odds Ratio” performed allow to compare the likelihood for a tree to be preserved among different specified combinaison of the different levels of different cofactors. P < 0. with or without organic/mineral manure additionning. on the logit transformed values of Cuij advice by Cox (1964) in Baillargeon (2005) to assess the influence of socio-cultural group. to gather socio-cultural groups or uses with equal level of knowledge. 14. The levels of ethnobotanic knowledge differ very significantly according to these socio-cultural groups (Figure 1a: ddl = 5. with Sui = standard deviation of the level of knowledge for the type of use i. Knowledge of types of use It is the percentage of individual who still recognizes this type of use: Cuij = (mijk/nijk) x 100 (2). Letters indicate Newman and Keuls analysis’ results. the coefficient of variation is CVej = [Sej / Cmj] x 100 (3). The test of Newman and Keuls is associated with this ANOVA II. F = 359. with Sej = standard deviation of the level of knowledge for the socio-cultural group j. The statistical analysis consisted to model of the probability of conservation decision-making by a binary logiqtic regression carried out with software SAS 9. Safeguarding of ethnobotanic knowledge The preservation of endogenous knowledge is expressed by their coefficient of variance. Cmj = average level of knowledge within the socio-cultural group j For each type use. the conservation has been seen as the decision-making of tree protection after its first fructification.

the department (origin of peasant). Four of all the suspected factors are found to be significant in the additive model performed. P < 0. Finally.129) and the orchard (P = 0.25 % of I. of which they are undissociable.6% and 25. except the food uses (A1.4%. the decision-making in I. Compared to the pasty fruit ideotype (with low water and fibres levels). This is the case of cotton/pineapple fields (P = 0. of yam (P = 0. The department of Atlantique presents the weakest chance (1/0.045 = 22. P < 0. where it has largely more chance of conservation than in all the other departments. highest probability of conservation are obtained for maize/cassava fields in the Plateau department. . F = 55. F = 1834. give 30. Letters have the same meaning as previously. Socio-therapeutic uses with low level of knowledge also have very strong coefficients of variation. Thus. Finally.31. and among uses.4 times less chance to be preserved. The food uses are still very well known by all the populations. gabonensis trees are preserving after the first fructification.. they still vary very strongly among people within socio-cultural groups.052 = 19. gabonensis conservation by peasants (Table 4a).123).) also strongly decrease the chances of conservation compared to the other types of agriculture. Acacia. in descending order.2 times the likelihood of the trees conservation of Trees’ plantations (teak. etc. But they are in this case necessary since they are used in together with significant modes (P-value < 0.294).0001).23 times less) of conservation.0001). The parameters associated to significant factors taken to account in the model are performed in the table 4b. maize/cassava fields.200 INDILINGA – AFRICAN JOURNAL OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Vol 6 (2) 2007 the greatest levels of knowledge respectively of 31. endogenous knowledge’ levels of the socioculturels groups vary very significantly according to use (ddl = 120. While the levels of knowledge are globally low. The modes of factors associated with probabilities higher than 0.24.05 are not significant compared to the reference mode.294 = 3.. palm oil tree. for trees producing healthy and pasty fruits. influence. In the department of the Plateau.05). ETHNOBOTANIC KNOWLEDGE SAFEGUARD It is expressed by the coefficients of variation of the levels of ethnobotanic knowledge (Table 3a and 3b). the species has twice more chance to be preserved than in Mono-Couffo. Endogenous conservation of I gabonensis in Benin The logistic regression indicated that 49. the principal agriculture and the fruits’ characteristics in this order. The uses socio-cultural and therapeutic uses which constituted 82% of all the uses have low levels of knowledge (lower than 10 %). Moreover. Thus. The “Odds Ratio” (Point Estimate) evaluated in Table 4c specify that the parasitic attacks decrease by 1/0. and A2). which are null coefficient of variation.56 times more chance to the tree to be preserved than under plantations. the levels of knowledge vary very significantly according use (figure 1b: ddl = 24. the trees which produce fruits said to be “fibrous” have 1/0. the parasitism level of the fruits and the tree.

the more TAGFS size increases. (2005). et al.ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL. . Levingston and Zamora (1983) underlined that the suppression of natural vegetation substituted by exotic trees modifies ecology. et al. is adapted to indicate I gabonensis a species with multi-use. gabonensis even if it occurs spontaneously on their land use systems. all small land users. This case gives proof that for “Cinderella species”. It virtually gives a feeling of security to land for owners. But owing to the frequent appearance of I. through the multiple types of use. the more option to industrial crops (palm oil trees. it is quasi impossible to dissociate local food resources from therapeutic ones in African rural areas. Consequently there is no transmission of endogenous knowledge. That is the case in the south of Benin where high disturbance rate compromises the availability of I. cotton and orchard) (for export) is taken by the peasants. and there is a logic relationship between this and the chance of conservation of the species. gabonensis on the therapeutic fields as showed by Okolo. I gabonensis contribute like many of other wild species to solve the crucial problems that restraint the socioeconomic development in Sub-Saharan Africa (Sidibé and William 2002). It will be just like that as log as the collaboration between pharmaceutical firms. Consequently. those weak knowledge levels and highest coefficients of variation could also be interpreted as a specialization of population in wild vegetable resources management/use on socio-therapeutic ways (Pictures 1 and 2). This disturbance is so great in the department of Atlantique. owners of TAGFS protect I. 1999) as attested by highest coefficients of variation (Tables 2a and b). This new vocation to lands contributes to the regression of bush mangoes population in the South Benin. The regressive evolution of pluviometry in area soudano-sahélienne (Fall. This can be seen as erosion of endogenous knowledge (Höft. I. in those departments. (1995). et al. and this justifies the global weakness of socio-cultural knowledge levels. The difference between groups proves cultural aptitude for people in wild resources management through food and therapeutic uses. (2005). and consequently lead to the disappearance many forest trees. The paradox is that to date. et al. Tabuna (2000). whereas the two food uses are known by all the populations. since that knowledge still being the privilege of restricted users group. Then. gabonensis is abundant in TAGFS where peasants are owner (in the departments of Plateau and Mono-Couffo). IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 201 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Except the food and economic values discussed by Ladipo (1999). Anyway the erosion of local knowledge could not completely be ignored. Therapeutic socio-cultural uses are more numerous with very weak levels of knowledge. Alas. pineapple. on which populations (Fon) have very few knowledge. gabonensis. maize/cassava field are more favourable to the endogenous conservation and the small farmers are more suited to this decision-making to supplement their incomes. gabonensis organs in traditional priests and practitioners’ potions. food industries and traditional potential users for domestication programme doesn’t become reality in West and Central Africa. and of the vegetable carpet is then a growth factor in the role of wild trees. this study confirms the endogenous use of I. et al. there is no development policy taken account for those resources. Leakey. 2000). which becomes strictly agroforestry species. The term of “Cinderella species” developed by Leakey.

In Benin. Table 1: Socio-cultural and socio-professional groups and sampling distribution within departments Departments Sociocultural groups People sampling and socio-professional groups Women Men Traditional practitioners 5 6 4 4 2 6 28 Non Timber Forest Products sellers 4 7 8 3 2 10 34 Total per sociocultural group Atlantique Mono-Couffo Ouémé Plateau Zou : Total Aïzo Adja Goun Holli Nagot Fon 15 21 13 10 14 14 87 26 16 25 14 13 20 114 50 50 50 31 32 50 263 Table 2: Recapitulation of ethnobotanical uses with different organs of I. Fruits quality is always damaged and this demoralizes peasants in the conservation decisionmaking. Ainge and Brown 2004).202 INDILINGA – AFRICAN JOURNAL OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Vol 6 (2) 2007 This option to industrial crop is easily justify by recurrence of parasitism and none desired fruits ideotypes. this appreciation is done with marginalization of kernels. gabonensis in Benin Uses Order 1 Codes C1 Trunk Organs Condition Fields Right and parasitized individuals Ripe Dried Food Construction Types Rural construction 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 A1 A2 E1 E2 SC1 SC2 Flesh Kernels Trunk and branches Shell of kernel Branches Fruits for dessert Condiments Household’s domestic energy Dried Dried Energetic Service of the worship “vodoun” Socio-cultural Incarnation of triplets died children Musical instrument of the worship “vodoun” Trunk SC3 Dried . as the general agroforestry statue of this species is being known. wild tree domestication is still being marginal programme. Scientists’ actions are urgent for the best solution searching to those major two problems. In this way. which are more economically valuable (Ladipo 1999. As for the appreciation of the quality of the fruits in Benin ideotypes definition. parasites aren’t studied. Salid 2003.

SC = socio-cultural. leaves or roots Fresh Dried kernels Fresh Flesh Fibrous flesh Kernels Organs Condition Fields Hardly ripe Very ripe Dried Fresh or dried Types Facilitation of digestion of nitrogenized food Laxative Ulcerate Malaria Reinforcement of the functions reflexes of the bladder Infantile treatment of disease named “Gbagla” in Benin local language Male gynaecology Skin disease Traditional stomatology: bad breath Scaring /antiseptic of wounds Hyperthermia Fresh or dried 20 21 22 23 24 25 T14 T15 T9 T7 T17 T16 Mixture of leaves. IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 203 Uses Order 9 10 11 12 13 14 Codes T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 Leaves T6 Therapeutic 15 16 17 T8 T10 T11 Roots Oil from kernels Small branches. T = therapeutic Table 3a: Local knowledge variations levels within socio-cultural groups ETHNOS GROUPS Adja Aïzo Fon Goun Holli Nagot COEFFICIENTS OF VARIATION (%) 200 200 240 190 110 140 . C = rural construction. E = domestic energy.ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL. bark and rots Subsidence of forehead treatment for babies Bark Fresh or dried Fresh or dried Fresh or dried Fresh Mycosis Hemorrhoid Female gynecology Dyspnea Tiredness 18 19 T12 T13 Caption: A = food.

0044 4.0001 < 0. C = rural construction. T = therapeutic Table 4a: Factors determining the conservation of I.5436 48. gabonensis in Benin ANALYSE STANDARD EFFECT III Stage 1 2 3 4 Factors Parasitism of fruits and trees Department Principal agriculture Quality (ideotype) of the fruits DF 1 4 4 1 Order 1 2 3 4 Khi 2 of Wald 27.0001 < 0.1080 33. SC = socio-cultural.204 INDILINGA – AFRICAN JOURNAL OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Vol 6 (2) 2007 Table 3b: Local knowledge level variation of types of uses ORDER 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Caption: TYPES OF USE C1 A1 A2 E1 E2 SC1 SC2 SC3 T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8 T9 T10 T11 T12 T13 T14 T15 T16 T17 COEFFICIENTS OF VARIATION (%) 70 0 0 30 30 160 160 150 120 140 160 100 170 130 170 130 280 180 160 180 150 170 180 140 170 A = food. E = domestic energy.2989 Pr > Khi 2 < 0.0001 0.03430 .

111 Plantations 3.064 < 0.129* 2.038** 27.965 1.045 0. IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 205 Table 4b: Effects of the parameters of the model on the conservation of I gabonensis in Benin ANALYSE OF MAXIMUM PROBABILITY Parameters Intercept Parasitism of fruits and trees Principal agriculture Principal agriculture Principal agriculture Principal agriculture Department Department Department Department Quality of the fruits DF 1 1 Parasitized fruits and trees Maize/ cassava Cotton/ pineapple Yam Orchard Plateau Ouémé Zou Atlantique Fibrous fruits with high rate of water Healthy fruits and trees -3.213 31.213 < 0.552 0.988 12.654 -1.0001*** *: Non significant.552 19. ** & ***: significant 35 A 30 B 25 Local knowledge levels (% of types of use C 20 C C 15 D 10 5 0 Ho lli Nag o t Ad ja Aïzo Go un Fo n Socio-cultural groups Figure 1a: Means of ethnobotanic knowledge levels of socio-cultural groups in the South of Benin .016 Pr > Khi 2 0.224 4.518 -2.231 -2.543 27.0001*** Modes Reference Mode selected Parameters estimated model 1.755 Plantations 2.294* 0.369 0.123* 4.0001*** 31.583 Mono-Couffo Mono-Couffo Mono-Couffo Mono-Couffo “ pasty “ fruits -1.100 3.813 1 1 1 1 1 1 Plantations 1.873 Error std 6.0004*** 2.038** 0.294 0.ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL.016 Khi 2 of Wald 6.546 < 0.064 1.419 Plantations 1.298 0.294 2.014** 1 1 1 19.988 12.369 2.298 4.100 3.283 0.283 4.

206 INDILINGA – AFRICAN JOURNAL OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Vol 6 (2) 2007 A 100 90 80 70 60 A B C D 50 E 40 30 20 10 0 A1 A2 E2 E1 C1 T4 T13 T1 T5 T2 T11 T6 T8 T3 SC3 T15 T16 T7 SC2 T12 SC1 T14 T10 T17 T9 F F G G G H I I I I I I I I I I I I I Use s Figure 1b: Means of local knowledge related to uses Picture 1: Bark stripping from I. Benin (Picture: Vihotogbé) . gabonensis tree by the Holli people in Pobè.

ETHNOBOTANY AND ENDOGENOUS CONSERVATION OF IRVINGIA GABONENSIS BAILL. IN TRADITIONAL AGROFORESTRY 207 Picture 2: Religious sacrifice on I. gabonensis trunk by the Holli people in Pobè. Benin (Picture: Vihotogbé) .

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