The management of indigenous knowledge with other knowledge systems for agricultural development: Challenges and opportunities for developing countries

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Presentation by Edda Tandi Lwoga (Sokoine University of Agriculture) at the IAALD 2010 World Congress - 26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France

Presentation by Edda Tandi Lwoga (Sokoine University of Agriculture) at the IAALD 2010 World Congress - 26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France

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  • Indigenous knowledge (IK) is used as a basis for local level decision making process in various aspects such as food preparation, agriculture, natural resource management, health, and various activities - Farmers predominantly in developing countries including Tanzania have planned agricultural production by using their IK to ensure food security and sustainable agricultural productivity over centuries Agriculture is the important sector in the economies of most African countries. In Tanzania, the economy depends on agriculture, which accounts for more than 25.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), provides 30.9 percent of exports, and employs 70 percent of the work force (United Republic of Tanzania - However, IK is mainly preserved in the memories of elders whose knowledge disappears when they die of old age, and thus IK has been lost at a high rate. The dominant information management system in developing countries including Tanzania processes codified knowledge and information from research institutes, universities, and laboratories, and thus little room has been left for IK to be incorporated into the rural information system At the same time, research shows that the more the local people experiment with external technologies and knowledge, the more they strengthen their indigenous knowledge and practices However, there is still lack of access to external knowledge in Tanzania despite the fact that it receives most of the attention due to weak linkages between research, extension and farmers Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can enhance access to relevant external knowledge and the management of IK in the local communities However, the digital divide limits local farmers’ managing their knowledge through ICTs, due to many factors, which include infrastructural, technical, regulatory, distributional, social, cultural, and economic issues Further, as local people access and use ICTs to access external knowledge, they tend to ignore their own knowledge and cultures This paper therefore seeks to establish the challenges and opportunities for acquiring, sharing and preserving agricultural IK and accessing external knowledge both physically and through ICTs in the rural areas of developing countries, with a specific focus of Tanzania

Transcript

  • 1. Patrick Ngulube Professor (University of South Africa, South Africa) Edda Tandi Lwoga PhD (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Christine Stilwell Professor (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa)
  • 2. Background and aim
    • TANZANIA
    • AGRICULTURAL
    • SECTOR
      • 25.7% of gross domestic product (GDP),
      • Provides 30.9% of exports
      • Employs 70%of the work force
      • - Adds value to local knowledge
      • - Information from outside sources
    Indigenous knowledge
      • Basis for local level decision making process
      • Lack of IK records – preserved in people’s heads
      • Information management- processes codified
      • knowledge from research, universities
    Other knowledge systems
      • Despite of its dominance in the information
      • management system, rural poor also lack
      • access to external knowledge
  • 3. Methodology
    • Sampling
    • Six districts in six zones out of seven agricultural zones in Tanzania were selected
    • Two villages in each district were selected
    • 181 farmers were purposively interviewed - they ranged between 27 and 37 per district
    • 128 farmers participated in focus groups - 6 to 12 respondents per session
    • Saturation point guided the sampling procedure – data collection continued until no new
    • additional data emerged
    • 12 focus group sessions were conducted, i.e. one focus group session in each village
  • 4. Research findings and discussions
    • Focus groups
    • - Out of 128 participants,
    • 65 were men,
    • & 63 were women
    • Mean age was 45
    • 90.7% could read and write,
    • 89.1% had formal schooling
    • Male dominated higher
    • education category
    91.2% could read and write, 84% had formal schooling Out of 181 interviewed respondents, 112 were men, and 69 were women Male dominated higher education category Mean age was 48, average farm size was 4.9 acres
  • 5.
    • Poor recognition of IK was the major problem
    • Followed by exclusion of IK in the formal school curriculum and lack of trust
    • Other challenges
    • - Poor knowledge sharing culture
    • - Difficulties in identifying IK holders
    • - IK was suspected to be linked to witchcraft
    • - Agriculture was not an income earning sector
    • - Resistance to change
    • - Extension officers were more concerned with conventional approaches and thus they were not helpful sources of IK
  • 6.
    • Major barriers:
    • - Poor recognition of IK
    • Poor knowledge sharing culture & Selfishness
    • Other challenges:
    • - Some IK was shared within specific clans and through inheritance
    • - Lack of trust and jealousy
    • - IK was suspected to be linked to witchcraft
    • - Advancements of technologies such as TV and radio had replaced oral culture
    • - The disappearances of useful cultures that would influence IK sharing
    • Lack of a system to compensate IK holders
    • Lack of IPRs that recognised IK
    • - Preparing some of the local herbs was time demanding
    • - Lack of clear prescription on the use of indigenous inputs e.g. local herbs
    • - Illiteracy
  • 7.
    • Major barriers:
    • lack of national efforts to record IK
    • Other challenges:
    • The disappearance of IK holders
    • Poor recognition of IK by the government
    • Farmers’ ignorance
    • Some of IK holders had migrated to urban areas because agriculture was not an income earning sector
    • Lack of professionals to manage IK
    • Disappearance of aspects of an oral culture such as folklore
    • Researchers and NGOs who conducted research on agricultural IK did not disseminate their findings back to farmers
  • 8. Opportunities for effective management of IK - findings from focus groups
      • Enable the village leaders and public and private institutions to document IK and encourage knowledge sharing culture among farmers
      • Identify IK holders who can practically share their knowledge to other farmers
      • Motivate and empower IK holders with adequate facilities so that they can teach others
      • Establish IK policy and IPR
      • Strengthen traditional ways of sharing IK, such as folklore and apprenticeships
      • Include IK in the formal school curriculum
      • Improve IK through research
      • Improve awareness and dissemination of IK
  • 9. Challenges in access to external knowledge Results from interviews
    • Major barriers
    • Poor extension services (79%; 143),
    • Lack of access to information materials (73.5%; 133),
    • Lack of a knowledge resource centre (72.4%; 131)
    • Low level of literacy (65.2%; 118)
    • Other barriers
    • Poor knowledge sharing culture
    • Personal barriers – age, attitudes, selfishness, memory lapses
    • Farmer groups related problems e.g. wrong perception about these groups
    • Lack of funds to purchase information materials
    • Access to irrelevant knowledge
    • Lack of awareness of the available information services
    • Distant location
    • Lack of a bookshop and agricultural shops
    • Ineffectiveness of some of the conventional inputs
    • Poor recognition of agricultural practices by the government
    • Low level of awareness on the part of farmers to demand their rights for adequate access to knowledge
    • Exclusion of agricultural subjects in most of the primary and secondary schools in the country
  • 10. Challenges in access to external knowledge Results from problem trees
    • Major barriers
    • Poor public extension services
    • Inadequate access to printed information materials
    • Other barriers
    • Poor knowledge sharing culture among farmers
    • Lack of funds to purchase information materials or to pay library membership fees
    • Selfishness
    • Lack of awareness of the importance of farmer groups
    • Inputs and funds for farmer field schools were delivered late by the government
    • Access to irrelevant technologies
    • Village leaders did not encourage farmers to share their knowledge
    • Illiteracy
    • Lack of agricultural shops
    • Agricultural input suppliers were not reliable sources of knowledge because their extension services were market oriented
    • Middlemen used to provide wrong information on market prices in order to buy farmer’s produces at low prices
    • Resistance to change
    • Village meetings were not frequently organised
    • Poor recognition of agricultural practices by the government
    • Low awareness on the part of farmers to demand their rights such as adequate access to agricultural knowledge
    • Extension officers and researchers did not adequately involve farmers in technology development and dissemination
    • Exclusion of agricultural subjects in most of the primary and secondary schools
  • 11. Research findings and discussions Opportunities for effective access to external knowledge
      • I mprovement of agricultural extension and training services
      • Reliable markets
      • Village leaders should encourage knowledge sharing activities among farmers
      • Improved delivery of inputs
      • Increased access to printed information materials
      • Extension services should involve farmers in knowledge development and dissemination
      • Improved access to rural finance
    Challenges in access to external knowledge
      • Overall, barriers that limited farmers from accessing external knowledge were related to:
      • Skills
      • Literacy
      • Distance
      • Relevancy
      • Knowledge sharing culture
      • Management of farmer groups
      • Inputs
      • Village leadership commitment
  • 12. Barriers that inhibit the use of ICTs to manage indigenous and external knowledge
    • Major barriers (results from interviews):
    • High cost of ICTs (84%; 152)
    • Lack of electricity (71.3%; 129)
    • Lack of local and relevant content (67.4%; 122)
    • Major barriers (results problem trees)
    • Inadequate access to local content through ICTs
    • Lack of electricity
    • High cost of ICTs
    • Lack of awareness on ICTs
    • Despite the discrepancies, a clearly discernible pattern can be drawn that:
      • high cost of ICTs, inadequate access to local content through ICTs and lack of electricity were the major problems that inhibited farmers in using ICTs to manage knowledge
    Interview findings
  • 13. Research findings and discussions Opportunities for effective management of indigenous and external Knowledge through ICTs
      • Increased access to inexpensive ICTs
      • Improved rural electrification,
      • Provision of relevant local content through ICTs
      • Improved telecommunication infrastructure
      • Increased access to affordable power sources such as solar power
      • Enhanced access to rural finance
      • Improved ICT training and awareness programmes
      • Establishment of telecenters
      • Village leaders should encourage farmers to exchange knowledge through ICTs
    Challenges in the management of indigenous and external knowledge through ICTs
      • Overall, barriers that limited farmers from managing knowledge through ICTs were related to:
      • Infrastructure
      • Funds
      • Relevancy
      • Skills
      • Language
      • Theft of ICTs
      • Follow up from professionals
  • 14. Conclusion
    • It is also pertinent for the government, private institutions, information professional, communities and other agricultural actors to address the following issues for improved KM practices and farming activities:
    • Culture
    • Capacity building
    • Relevant content
    • External environment e.g.
      • Infrastructure
      • Policies on IK
      • IPR
      • Linkages between research, extension and farmers
    There is a need for public and private institutions and the communities to engage together in an effort to recognize the power of IK which is mainly tacit, and the importance of managing and merging it with external knowledge for improved farming activities
  • 15. Thank you for your attention! Edda Tandi Lwoga PhD (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, tlwoga@suanet.ac.tz) Patrick Ngulube PhD (University of South Africa, South Africa, [email_address] ) Christine Stilwell PhD (University of KwaZulu, South Africa, [email_address] )