Documenting Agricultural Indigenous Knowledge and provision of access through Online Database platform.

Author:Okello-Obura, Constant
 
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  1. Contextual Background and Problem

    Interestingly, there is no standard definition of indigenous knowledge (Benguela Current Commission 2013). However, there is a general understanding of what it means. Some people define indigenous knowledge as the local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. Some have defined it simply as "local knowledge", while others have expressed it as "folk knowledge", "information base for a society", "traditional wisdom" or, when it applies to the physical environment, as "traditional ecological knowledge" (Warren 1991, World Bank 1997; Emeagwali, 2003 and Valdes 2010; Benguela Current Commission 2013). However, one common characteristics is that it is local knowledge-knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. Local and indigenous knowledge refers to the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. For rural and indigenous peoples, local knowledge informs decision-making about fundamental aspects of day-to-day life (UNESCO 2014). This knowledge is integral to a cultural complex that also encompasses language, systems of classification, resource use practices, social interactions, ritual and spirituality. IK contrasts with the international knowledge system generated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural-resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities (Warren 1991, Mkapa 2004). Indigenous knowledge is part of the lives of the rural poor; their livelihood depends almost entirely on specific skills and knowledge essential for their survival. There is not one of the Sustainable Development Goals to whose achievement indigenous knowledge cannot contribute. Societies from all parts of the world possess rich sets of experience, understanding and explanation.

    Agriculture has been recognized as a key pillar for developing countries' economies. Approximately 80% of people in developing countries depend on agriculture. In rural areas, agriculture is an important activity which assures access to both food and a source of income (Valdes 2010). In the emerging global knowledge economy, a country's ability to build and mobilize knowledge capital, is equally essential for sustainable development as the availability of physical and financial capital (World Bank, 1997). The basic component of any country's agricultural knowledge system is its agricultural indigenous knowledge. It encompasses the skills, experiences and insights of people, applied to maintain or improve their livelihood (World Bank 1997). However, oral tradition, characteristic of indigenous knowledge systems is often, although erroneous, looked down upon relative to the written tradition. Partly because indigenous knowledge is mainly oral and not written, and partly because it is people-centered and sometimes not so easily 'measurable' (Emeagwali 2003). This regrettably today, is making many agricultural indigenous knowledge systems to be at risk of becoming extinct because of rapidly changing natural environments and fast pacing economic, political, and cultural changes on a global scale. Practices vanish, as they become inappropriate for new challenges or because they adapt too slowly. However, many practices disappear only because of the intrusion of foreign technologies or development concepts that promise short-term gains or solutions to problems without being capable of sustaining them (World Bank 1997). The tragedy of the impending disappearance of indigenous knowledge is most obvious to those who have developed it and make a living through it. But the implication for others can be detrimental as well, when skills, technologies, artifacts, problem solving strategies and expertise are lost (World Bank 1997). Benguela Current Commission (2013) concludes it by noting that interest and awareness of the value of indigenous knowledge, particularly its potential contribution to sustainable development, is increasing at a time when such knowledge is being threatened as never before. It is therefore imperative that AIK is documented, preserved and accessed to contribute to the agricultural knowledge base. It is on this basis that this study was instituted.

    1.1 Objectives

    The objective of this study were to:

    * Document AIK among rural Communities in three districts in Uganda

    * Design an online platform for provision of access to the AIK.

    * Recommend strategic interventions for protection of AIK

  2. Brief Literature Review

    Agricultural Indigenous Knowledge: Capturing, Preserving and Accessing

    Benguela Current Commission (2013) note that interest and awareness of the value of indigenous knowledge, particularly its potential contribution to sustainable development, is increasing at a time when such knowledge is being threatened as never before. In documenting AIK, it is important that the sources of the information is identified. Mahalik and Mahapatra (2010) note that the sources of the traditional knowledge mainly derived from the human experiences, beliefs and practices are collected from several sources. There are also semi-recorded information such as manuscripts, photographs, and folk literature and grey literature. Ancient people had developed the religious books, grey literature, ethno-botanical texts and archaeological deposits which were the sources of knowledge for those people (Mahalik and Mahapatra 2010). Those sources give detail account of the life of the ancient people and the method of living in a prosperous way. Again, those sources also give information about biotechniques, medicinal knowledge, breeding techniques, agricultural farming systems, healthcare techniques, religious and astrological guidelines and cultural artifacts (Mahalik and Mahapatra 2010). However, one source which is important and where the...

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