Gender and Socioeconomic Factors Influencing Domestication of Medicinal Plants in North West of Ethiopia

Dereje Mosissa


This paper examines the influence of gender and socio-economic factors on domestication of medicinal plants in Assosa Zone of Western Ethiopia. Participatory wealth ranking, structured and semi-structured interviews, botanical surveys and participant observations were the main methods employed in data collection. The results showed that the domestication has played a fundamental role in conserving medicinal plants in the study area. Forty (89 percent) and 12(27 percent) out of 45 indigenous plant species were domesticated on farms and around homesteads, respectively. About 89 percent of the respondents (n = 173) had domesticated medicinal plants on their farms and around homesteads. Gender featured as important factor that had influence on this practice, with male-headed households shown to outdo the female-headed households in the domestication effort. This can be attributed to social and cultural reasons that besides dispossessing women of the tenure rights over resources and land, they also subject them to heavy workloads and, therefore, diminish the time required for domestication. The number of domesticated medicinal plants also depended on age, affluence, farm size, household size and ethnicity. In conclusion, the paper urges that since  domestication - an important strategy for conserving threatened medicinal plants in farmlands and around homesteads - is being influenced by gender and socio-economic factors, agroforestry research should focus, not only on integrating forest plants in farmlands, but also on socio-cultural, socio-economic and institutional aspects affecting the whole system of domestication.

Keywords: biodiversity conservation, cultural values, medicinal plants, livelihoods.

DOI: 10.7176/ALST/76-01

Publication date:September 30th 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-7181 ISSN (Online)2225-062X

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