doi: 10.5191/jiaee.1994.01104
Indigenous knowledge (IK) is the systematic body of knowledge acquired by local people through the accumulation of experiences, informal experiments, and intimate understanding of the environment in a given culture. Local people, including farmers, landless laborers, women, rural artisans, and cattle rearers, are the custodians of indigenous knowledge systems (IKSs). These indigenous knowledge systems may appear simple to outsiders but they represent mechanisms to ensure minimal livelihoods for the rural resource-poor people in India. During the process of technology development, farmers' informal experimentation has not been considered as a source of innovation (Rajasekaran & Martin, 1990). During the process of technology dissemination, feedback information from farmers after the introduction of technologies is rarely recorded. Farmers' needs, priorities, and innovations are not considered while developing and disseminating technologies.
Indigenous knowledge is dynamic, changing through indigenous mechanisms of creativity
and innovativeness as well as through contact with other local and international knowledge systems (Warren, 1990). Understanding farmers' knowledge allows a framework of reference for posing technical, scientific questions in research. It also provides the basis for evolving technological options that are not imposed as alien 'packages' which contradict its existing practices (Scoones, 1989). For instance, technological interventions with respect to agroforestry must be based on the principles of ethnobotany, agroecology, and farmers' experiments on home gardens (Rocheleau, 1987). Therefore, identifying, documenting, and incorporating indigenous knowledge systems into agricultural extension organizations is essential in order to achieve sustainable agricultural development.
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