Selection of Candidate Indigenous Browse Plants for Domestication in the Rainforest Zone of South - Eastern Nigeria
South-eastern Nigeria is home to sixty percent (60%) of the rainforest resources and biological diversity of Nigeria. Several studies have reported the increasing depletion of the rain forest resources by natural and anthropogenic factors, thus endangering the previously abundant ruminant browse resource of the region. This study utilized endogenous use ranking of identified browse plants of south-eastern Nigeria and the crude protein content of their leaves to select candidate plants for possible domestication by rural farmers. Ninety three plants identified as small ruminant feedstuff in the region were ranked 1 to 5 across their leaf, stem, root, fruit and fuel values to indigenous farmers. Thereafter, the leaves of these plants were collected, dried in the oven and subjected to crude protein analyses. The ranking and crude protein values were used to select the plants that may have the best potential of being domesticated for ruminant feeding in the region. Of the 93 plants studied, 18 were being used for only one purpose by the indigenes, while 27, 24, 16 and 8 plants had 2, 3, 4 and 5 indigenous use rankings respectively. Thirty eight of these plants yielded <15% CP, while 13. 16 and 24 yield CP values of 15 - 17.99%, 18 – 19.99% and >20% respectively. Seven plants under the single endogenous use ranking group recorded >20% CP value, while the 2, 3, 4 and 5 endogenous use rank groups had 5, 9, 2 and 1 plants that recorded >20% CP. Based on these results, 18 indigenous browse plants, having endogenous use rankings of 2 to 5 and leaf crude proteins of 14.88 to 32.27% were selected as candidate browse plants for possible domestication in the region. However, some of these plants are currently regarded as weeds and nuisance because of lack of adequate information on their biochemical compositions. There is therefore the need to investigate the agronomic characteristics of the plants before recommending them to farmers for adoption.
Browse Plants, Rainforest, Crude Protein, Ruminants, Rural Farmers
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