Knowledge for Development

Related developments


Underutilised wild edible plants in the Chilga District, north-western Ethiopia: focus on wild woody plants

In this article, Mekuanent Tebkew, University of Gondar, and colleagues at other Ethiopian universities report on a study of the distribution, diversity, role, management conditions and associated traditional knowledge of underutilised wild edible plants in north- western Ethiopia. Despite the extraordinary number of ecological zones and plant diversity, the diversity of plants is under threat due to the lack of institutional capacity, population pressure, land degradation and deforestation. An adequate documentation of these plants also had not been conducted. The researchers found 33 wild edible plants that are used by local communities to supplement staple foods, to fill food gaps and for recreation. As these communities apply only elementary management practices to some wild edible plants, special attention is required to sustain the benefits of these plants.    (Agriculture & Food Security, 26/08/2014)

29/10/2014


Native foods scoping study under way in Australia

The New South Wales Local Land Service has commissioned a scoping study to assess whether native foods businesses could be viable, in which a team of environmental consultants is conducting a desktop study into the native foods industry. They did so because the consumption of native bush foods has grown steadily over recent years; bush tucker recipes are abound and products from lemon myrtle to quandong jam being snapped up in Australia and overseas. By narrowing down to which species that would be best suited to the region, the team will assess whether there is a business case for developing the crops for these herbs, foods and spices. The study is expected to be completed by October 2014.   (Australian Broadcasting Commission, 25/08/2014)

29/10/2014


Researchers set sight on free range chickens as demand soars

Recent research in Kenya revealed that 40% of those who buy chicken products prefer free-range varieties because of their nutritional value. Whereas indigenous brands of chicken were traditionally kept as a side activity, farmers are increasingly growing them on a commercial scale. Recently, the Kenya Agricultural Research institute (KARI) has stepped up its research to increase the productivity of indigenous chickens. Its research is focusing on making improvements in feeding and nutrition, the selection and breeding of genotypes for eggs and meat lines, and the development of management packages for disease control. To boost the dissemination of the results of its research on indigenous chickens, KARI has trained over 60 indigenous chicken service providers at the Kenya Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (KASAL) indigenous chicken project.  In turn, the service providers are reaching over 200,000 farmers with improved technologies.   (Farm Biz Africa, August 2014)

2/09/2014


First arboretum opens in the Seychelles

The Seychelles National Biodiversity Centre, located at Barbarons on Mahe, the largest and most populated island of the Seychelles, was officially opened in July 2014. The centre is set to become a 17 hectare arboretum for preserving rare and endangered plants species that are only found in the Seychelles. In view of the extraordinary biodiversity in the Seychelles, more than 50% of Mahe island has been declared a protected area.    (Seychelles News Agency, 19/7/2014) 

25/08/2014


Indigenous perceptions of soil erosion, adaptations and livelihood implications: the case of maize farmers in Northern Ghana

Francis Issahaku Malongza Bukari, at the University of Development Studies in Ghana, investigated the nature of soil erosion on maize farms, the effects of soil erosion on maize crop farmers and the effectiveness of local control measures on output levels and the livelihoods of the farmers. The study revealed that the major effects of soil erosion were found to be the loss of fertile soils, reduction in the cultivable land area, the reduction in the crop yield and a fall in the living standards of farmers’ households. Adaptive strategies to reduce the effects of soil erosion included shifting cultivation, ridging across slopes, planting on raised mounds and avoidance of deep ploughing. Farmers who successfully applied traditional soil protection methods improved their output levels per land area and the standards of living of their families. The author recommends that modern agricultural extension services should complement, and not replace, the local knowledge systems in order to ensure sustainability in this farming region.   http://jnrd.info/2013/10/indigenous-perceptions-of-soil-erosion-adaptations-and-livelihood-implications-the-case-of-maize-farmers-in-the-zampe-community-of-bole-in-the-northern-region-of-ghana-2/  (Journal of Natural Resources and Development, 07/10/2013)

13/05/2014


The use of indigenous ecological resources for pest control in Africa

David Grzywacz of the Natural Resource Institute (University of Greenwich, UK) and colleagues investigated two examples of crop protection practices in Africa that harness locally available biological resources. The researchers examined the use of the pesticidal plant Tephrosia vogelii, and the harvesting of the endemic insect virus Spodoptera exempta (SpexNPV). Both of these can be produced locally and have shown promise in trials as inexpensive and effective tools for pest control. Their use is currently being scaled up and evaluated by researchers on the continent. This focus on these unconventional crop protection systems illustrates the need to explore further the potential of locally-available natural resources to replace expensive imported agricultural inputs. The authors of the paper argue that the countries’ regulatory environment must evolve to facilitate the registration of new products and the establishment of supply chains that benefit the local producers and help them improve upon the production methods.  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12571-013-0313-5   (Food Security, 02/2014) 

13/05/2014


Building synergies between science and indigenous knowledge

Charged with determining a conceptual framework and initial work programme for the UN's new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), some of the Platform's delegates met in Turkey on 9–14 December 2013 to discuss scientific knowledge co-production with indigenous peoples. The report of that meeting, The Contribution of Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES: Building Synergies with Science, emphasises that the IPBES conceptual framework must accommodate indigenous and local knowledge and world views to complement science-based representations. Building synergies between science and indigenous knowledge should catalyse the generation of new knowledge and better inform policy making.     Additional resource: Old knowledge and new science: using traditional knowledge in CGIAR research (15/01/2014)    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-12/tca-ftt120413.php    (EurekAlert, 08/12/2013)    

27/02/2014


South Africa launches its indigenous knowledge recording system

The National Recordal System (NRS) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa will protect, preserve, promote and responsibly exploit South Africa's  indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).  The NRS will document and record IK through the National Indigenous Knowledge Management System (NIKMAS) information and communication  technology platform. It will record African IK in its original oral format, linking it to a complex metadata schema to provide the necessary mechanisms for both positive and defensive (legal)  protection. At present, Riëtte Pretorius, project manager at CSIR, says the system supports IK on African traditional medicine and indigenous foods, and at a later stage could include arts,  crafts and farming practices. The training of community workers is already taking place and documentation centres are being built across the country.     (CSIR, 18/06/2013)

31/07/2013


Growing peas and greens to maximise water usage

IPS reports how Kenyan farmers save water by planting crops that require little irrigation, unlike the popular maize. Indigenous vegetables and fruits such as the spider plant and the African nightshade are making a comeback on smallholder farms. Because these plants mature faster than conventional crops they can adapt more rapidly to climate variations.(IPS, 22/05/2013)

27/06/2013


Indigenous knowledge and climate adaptation in Northern Ghana

Using Northern Ghana as an example, this background document published by Africa Portal, focuses on the value of indigenous knowledge in national climate policies related to agriculture. It presents an overview of how small-scale farmers use indigenous knowledge to adapt to climatic extremes and examines the challenge of integrating these practices into policy. The discussion is relevant across the continent: it argues that though small-scale agricultural production can be responsive to climatic variations, adaptation policies that promote high-resource solutions are not relevant to smallholder farmers and that climate adaptation policies could better incorporate sources of indigenous knowledge.  http://www.africaportal.org/articles/2013/01/09/indigenous-knowledge-and-climate-adaptation-northern-ghana  (Africa Portal backgrounder No. 48, 9/01/2013)

7/03/2013


Study highlights food risk hotspots

The poorest societies may be more able to adapt to the threat climate change poses to food supplies than their slightly richer peers, a new study suggests. We might assume getting richer would always make a country safer from drought and famine, but that turns out not to be the case. Instead, the very poorest countries seem to become more vulnerable in the early stages of a transition to modern agriculture. There's a crucial period before the benefits of modernisation start to kick in, during which they are more vulnerable to problems like drought than when they started. For example, switching from pastoral farming to settled agriculture can bring benefits to local people in the long-term, once they can introduce new techniques like higher-yielding, drought-resistant crops and modern machinery. But these need investment to work, and it takes time for poor farmers to build up the necessary capital. In the meantime, most land has been parcelled up into private plots and is now crisscrossed by fences, so people can no longer respond to drought as their pastoralist ancestors would have - by simply moving their herds somewhere with more water. (NERC Planet Earth Online, 1/6/2012)

12/07/2012


Traditional crop varietal diversity use to reduce pest and disease damage

Much of the worlds’ annual harvest loss to pests and diseases occurs as a consequence of crops grown in monocultures, or cultivated varieties with uniform resistance. This uniform resistance is met by the continuing evolution of new races of pests and pathogens that are able to overcome resistance genes introduced by modern breeding, creating the phenomenon of boom and bust cycles. One of the few assets available to small-scale farmers in developing countries to reduce pests and diseases damage is their local crop varietal diversity, together with the knowledge to manage and deploy this diversity appropriately. By performing cross-site on-farm experiments, it was possible to identify traditional varieties with higher resistance to pest and diseases when grown outside their home sites. Increased diversity of crop varieties, measured by number of varieties (richness) and their evenness of distribution, corresponded to a decrease in the average damage levels across sites and to a reduction of variance of disease damage. In sites with higher disease incidence, households with higher levels of diversity in their production systems had less damage to their standing crop in the field compared to sites with lower disease incidence. The results support what might be expected of a risk-minimizing strategy for use of diversity to reduce pest and disease damage. (ScienceDirect, 19/3/2012)

11/07/2012


Study highlights food risk hotspots

The poorest societies may be more able to adapt to the threat climate change poses to food supplies than their slightly richer peers, a new study suggests. We might assume getting richer would always make a country safer from drought and famine, but that turns out not to be the case. Instead, the very poorest countries seem to become more vulnerable in the early stages of a transition to modern agriculture. There's a crucial period before the benefits of modernisation start to kick in, during which they are more vulnerable to problems like drought than when they started. For example, switching from pastoral farming to settled agriculture can bring benefits to local people in the long-term, once they can introduce new techniques like higher-yielding, drought-resistant crops and modern machinery. But these need investment to work, and it takes time for poor farmers to build up the necessary capital. In the meantime, most land has been parcelled up into private plots and is now crisscrossed by fences, so people can no longer respond to drought as their pastoralist ancestors would have - by simply moving their herds somewhere with more water. (NERC Planet Earth Online, 1/6/2012)

11/07/2012


Terra preta found in Asia

Indigenous people of the Amazon produced rich agricultural soil by adding charcoal, manure, and animal bones to the otherwise nutrient-poor dirt of the world's greatest rainforest. The inputs allowed early indigenous people to farm their terra preta, or dark earth, sustainably in the Amazon. To date such practices are only known from the Amazon and parts of Africa. Mongabay reports in a recent paper in the open access journal Forests scientists in Indonesian Borneo documents the first evidence of terra preta in Asia. (Mongabay, 14/5/2012)

4/06/2012


Differences plague WIPO negotiations on traditional knowledge

The 21st session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore (IGC) met from 16-20 April 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. Negotiations at the WIPO over a legal instrument intended to protect traditional knowledge (TK) saw mixed progress. Though a draft text will be forwarded to WIPO’s General Assembly that includes some areas of convergence, various disagreements on the definition of TK, its beneficiaries, and the scope of a potential instrument marred the week-long discussions. Member states were unable to find common ground on whether a definition of traditional knowledge should be broad in scope or more detailed and descriptive. South Africa underlined the need to define TK as ‘dynamic and evolving’. Bolivia, for its part, asked that TK be defined as ‘inalienable, indivisible and imprescriptible’, as TK “cannot be given away by indigenous people, it cannot be fragmented, it is a unit”. Some developed countries, however, urged members to instead adopt a broader definition without descriptive terms. (ICTSD; 25/04/2012)

4/06/2012


Products from savannah generate 39% of total household income in northern Benin

According to a study by the German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the value derived from the savannah amounts to 39% of the average annual income of a rural household in northern Benin. The authors also found that poorer households are more dependent on savannah biodiversity than wealthier ones. The Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations (CBD) and most recently the TEEB (‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’) study have shown that the amount of economic contribution nature and environment make to society can be measured. Scientists from the German Biodiversity and Research Centre have now analysed the value of the savannah in northern Benin and determined how much income is generated by the exploitation of non-timber forest products in the region. (AlphaGalileo, 25/10/2011)

12/01/2012


Farming crucial for threatened species

A recent study by UK researchers at the University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences, found that a number of threatened species in the developing world are entirely dependent on human agriculture for their survival and that many species, rather than just using farmland to supplement their natural habitat, would actually be driven to extinction without it. Conserving biodiversity by supporting or mimicking traditional farming methods has long been a feature in Europe, but it has rarely been applied in developing countries. Where local communities are threatened by industrial agriculture, which often results in people being thrown off their traditional lands, conservation may be able to provide a win-win solution, helping to safeguard farming livelihoods for local people and for wildlife. In other cases, local communities could receive economic or development benefits in return for continuing valuable farming practices that benefit wildlife. (Physorg, 5/12/2011)

12/01/2012


Pioneering study shows how traditional seed systems may cope with climate change

A new study conducted by Mauricio Bellon, Programme Director at Bioversity International, and colleagues, throws light on the ways that smallholder famers will be able to obtain seeds that will cope with climate change. The team surveyed Mexican maize farmers in four different agro-ecological zones to find out where the farmers got their seed and then modelled how variation in regional climate might affect their environment. For all communities except those in the highlands, predicted future maize environments are already represented within the 10-km radial zones, indicating that in the future farmers will have easy access to adapted planting material. Farmers in the highlands are the most vulnerable and probably will need to acquire seed from outside their traditional geographical ranges. This change in seed sources probably will entail important information costs and the development of new seed and associated social networks, including improved linkages between traditional and formal seed systems and more effective and efficient seed-supply chains. The approach pioneered in this research, of integrating information about seed systems with fine-scale examination of predicted climate shifts, is important because it has the potential to be applied in other regions and countries. (Bioversity International, 19/8/2011; CCAFS, 1/9/2011)

27/09/2011


Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues)

The book Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature was launched at the International Workshop on Bioprocessing, Policy and Practice: Conservation and use of Medicinal plants of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Indian Ocean and Madagascar (20-22 April, 2011 - Ebène, Mauritius).The Islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues (Indian Ocean) have their own unique medical traditions. These medical traditions have emerged from multiple origins through a process of creolisation, but they are also closely tied to the natural world in which they have adapted and evolved. They thus provide a key to understanding the wider societies, which are engaged in a constant dialectic between tradition and modernity. Beginning at the end of the Seventeenth Century, these islands were gradually populated by populations originating from Europe, Madagascar, Africa, India, China, even Polynesia and Australia. The interchange between the medical traditions originating from each of these places has given rise to a common knowledge, transmitted largely by women.This book brings to our attention the knowledge of medicinal plants and medical practices of these women, with special focus on childbirth. It also considers the place of medicinal knowledge within these evolving societies who are actively confronting the threats and opportunities that globalization poses to local identities.

3/05/2011


Kenyan pastoralists look back to secure their future

Animal genetic experts at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi have discovered that the Red Maasai breed has genetic traits that make it resistant to intestinal worm parasites, a major problem for sheep herders not only in Kenya, but on commercial farms in Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Okeyo Mwai, one of the lead researchers at ILRI, says that the individual genes have not yet been isolated; and scientists are still a long way from being able to transfer specific traits to other sheep breeds. Isolation of worm-resistance genes from the Red Maasai sheep may see this most neglected sheep breed catapult into a very important resource, providing farmers with the most needed biological worm control mechanism. In an effort to safeguard the remaining stock of pure indigenous sheep, Maasai pastoralists in Kenya have formed a conservation group to facilitate their efforts in rearing the Red Maasai sheep.(Source : IPS, 15 February 2011)

22/03/2011