The utilization of local knowledge in line with modern technologies and practices is central to upscale the agricultural sector, according to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
Mamusha Alema, Capacity Development Officer at ILRI told The Ethiopian Herald that, even though modernizing agricultural system plays crucial role for productivity and growth, introducing the local knowledge of farmers and pastoralists in the system is also mandatory.
He said there has been misconceptions that the sources of knowledge are only scientific researches or scientists. Thus, earlier experiences in all developmental aspects have been restricted to sticking up with researches of scholars with modern knowledges. And the system has been led by only importing new agricultural practices and giving them to the farmers and pastoralists as well through experts and extension workers. However, farmers and pastoralists are owners of a very deep and long aged knowledge and experience about land or soil protection, pest management, environmental situations, animal and plant diseases.
According to him, a project that aimed at mixing local agricultural knowledge with modern practices has been implemented in Tigray state by Mekele University in collaboration with free University of Netherlands, the Agriculture Bureau and Agricultural Research Institute of the state.
As a result, a great deal of achievement was made by identifying model farmers and expanding their knowledge to others in every zone and woreda of Tigray. "Most of all, new developmental approaches are introduced. For instance, farmers research groups, now part of the extension system, are results of this new approach," Mamusha noted.
The new approach has also made a significant influence in conducting researches based on local knowledge and coming up with improved, effective and sustainable technologies, he added.
A network called Promoting Local Innovation in Ecologically Oriented Agriculture and Natural Resource Management has been established and is expanding throughout Africa. Thus, using this network, ILRI has plans to launch a project that could enable researchers and pastoralists work together in generating new technologies in different aspects of livestock based on local knowledges to increase productivity, said Mamusha.