This study was conducted in five districts of Bench-Maji and Sheka Zones. Yam-growing farmers were purposively considered for this survey. Secondary data regarding the accessibility and culture of yam farming were assessed in Bench-Maji and Sheka Zones. The secondary data obtained from each Zone were used to select yam-growing districts. A total of five yam-growing woredas (districts) were considered in this study. Within these districts, informal survey was conducted to identify yam-farming kebeles. In addition, secondary information regarding the accessibility of yams was assessed in each district. Based on the result of informal survey and secondary data, three kebeles were chosen in each woreda, bringing the total number of sampled households to 272. Informant interviews were adapted from ethnobotanical field inquires as suggested by [30]. Field visits in combination with individual farmer interviews using a standard questionnaire were carried out during the period from December 2016 to November 2017. The data collection procedures employed for recording folk biosystematics is given below.

Folk taxonomy was researched with the use of informant interviews, researcher observations, and comparison of farmers’ recognized taxa with formal taxonomy. Folk ranks and taxa were recorded according to the universal scheme proposed by Berlin et al. [26] and Berlin [31]. Accordingly, there are at least five, perhaps six, ethnobiological folk categories which appear to be highly general if not universal in folk biological science. Applying the basic principles proposed by the preceding authors, the categories can be reduced into a set of four general nomenclatural orders as follows:

Farmers were asked to free list generic names to all kinds of yams they knew at and above species level. Taxa satisfying these conditions are generic; their labels are generic names.

A category called intermediate taxa included the fact that farmers recognized supra-variety categories that are labeled by names. Taxa satisfying these conditions are sub-generic (specific); their labels are supra-variety names.

Farmers were asked to free list the names of individual taxa that they perceive as a distinct unit. Taxa satisfying these conditions are varietal; their labels are variety names.

Some taxa are marked only by binary lexemes, containing further divisions of a variety. Taxa satisfying these conditions are sub-varietal; their labels are sub-variety names.

A basic linguistic analysis, i.e., questions concerning the inherent logic and consistency of folk names, was researched with the use of farmers’ interview and researcher observations. Individual farmers were asked to free list the local names of yam varieties and sub-varieties they grew or knew. All the folk names were registered, and translation considering meaning, origin, and structures of folk names was made with the use of elderly farmers. The consistency of folk names was assessed with the use of fixed landrace samples. Of the total farms surveyed, landraces that were encountered in more than ten farms were selected as a fixed sample. Accordingly, 15 landraces were identified as fixed samples.

Folk descriptor was researched based on the farmers’ free listing of individual taxa along with their descriptors, according to informants’ own order of priority without major researcher intervention. Informants were asked to free list the names of (both known and actually grown) individual taxa. For each of the names, farmers were asked how they were able to identify it. All the folk descriptors were registered and supplemented with field observation by the researcher to verify the information gathered.

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