A framework for incorporating indigenous knowledge systems into agricultural research and extension organizations for sustainable agricultural development in India
D. Michael Warren
The purpose of this study was to formulate a methodological framework to incorporate indigenous knowledge systems into agricultural research and extension organizations for sustainable agricultural development in India. Indigenous knowledge systems (IKSs) were recorded using farmer participatory methods such as transecting, participant observations, and unstructured interactions. IKSs were classified into (a) decision making systems; (b) indigenous knowledge statements; and (c) indigenous technical practices. Followed by this, an instrument was developed to identify: (1) the extent to which selected indigenous decision-making systems are agreeable to farmers; (2) the extent to which statements regarding indigenous knowledge systems are believed to be true by farmers; and (3) the extent to which selected indigenous technical practices (ITPs) are being used by farmers. A multiple regression analysis was computed to predict which one of the ITPs is the best predictor of productivity as well as sustainability. A cluster sampling procedure was adopted in order to select the sample. Three villages--Sivaranthakam, Kizhur, and Pillayarkuppam--belonging to the Union Territory of Pondicherry were selected as cluster samples. All the farmers in these villages (clusters) were involved in the study;The major findings of this study were: (1) participant farmers moderately agreed with most of the factors influencing indigenous decision-making systems; (2) the farmers strongly believed that most of the statements pertaining to indigenous knowledge to be true; (3) the farmers strongly utilized most of the indigenous technical practices; (4) seven out of 60 ITPs were found to be positively correlated with productivity in rice; (5) the ITP, "sheep panning," was the best predictor for productivity in rice; and (6) the ITPs, "sheep panning," "using rat traps," and "using stream water for irrigation" were the best predictors to explain the variabilities in the three sustainability factors--soil fertility, external input usage, and maintaining groundwater for irrigation;The findings of the study revealed that IKSs can provide a frame of reference for strengthening agricultural research and extension programs. A framework was developed for incorporating indigenous knowledge systems into agricultural research and extension organizations. The framework provides guidelines for developing and disseminating sustainable agricultural technological options based on indigenous knowledge systems. The framework suggests practical and cost-effective methods for linking farmers, researchers, extensionists, and representatives of non-governmental organizations during the process of technology development and dissemination.