Indigenous knowledge can play a key role in the design of sustainable agricultural systems, increasing the likelihood that rural populations will accept, develop, and maintain innovations and interventions. They have names for many different kinds of plants, ways to diagnose and treat human and animal diseases, and methods to crop fertile and infertile soils. This knowledge has accrued over many centuries, and is a critical and substantial aspect of the culture and technology of any society. Yet it has often been overlooked by Western scientific research and development. It can be transferred by quite elaborate systems, often involving oral transmission using stories and myths. Yet few examples have been methodically recorded, and fewer still have been studied with the purpose of developing an integrated approach to solving agricultural and rural problems. Many technological solutions that have been proposed to address problems in rural communities have failed in the field because they do not take into account the local culture, particularly society’s preferences, skills, and knowledge. Success in development is more likely to be achieved when local people are involved in the planning and implementation of development projects; and project officials who are familiar with indigenous knowledge are better equipped to facilitate participation by the local populations.
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