Uses of Local Plant Species by Agropastoralists in South-western Niger

Augustine Abioye Ayantunde, Pierre Hiernaux, Mirjam Briejer, Henk Udo, Ramadjita Tabo


Knowledge pertaining to local plant species in West African Sahel has been poorly documented despite the central role local vegetation plays in the everyday lives of the rural people. An ethnobotanical study was conducted between April and November 2005 to document knowledge and uses of local herbaceous and woody species by the agropastoralists in South-western Niger. One hundred and twenty three voucher reference samples were collected consisting of 87 and 36 herbaceous and woody species, respectively. The voucher specimens were used for individual interviews of the agropastoralists, guided by a semi-structured questionnaire. In each interview session, an interviewee was shown voucher reference samples and was asked to identify each of them. For each plant species identified, questions were asked about its utilization and the plant part(s) being used. Major uses of local plant species are for traditional medicine, human consumption, animal feed, household construction and firewood. Mean use value of woody species was significantly higher for all use categories (p < 0.001) than for the herbaceous species. These results confirm that “apparent” plants, perennial woody species, are used by the agropastoral communities more intensively than the “non-apparent” short life cycle herbaceous species. 

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