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Indigenous knowledge of climatic conditions for sustainable crop production under resource-poor farming conditions using participatory techniques
02 October 2012, AfriCAN Climate
The results showed that indigenous knowledge of climate needs to be considered during agricultural development planning and scientists need to investigate linkages between modern agro-meteorology and indigenous knowledge.
Rambuda irrigation scheme is situated in Vhembe District of Limpopo Province in South Africa. It was established in 1952 and farmers do not have access to recorded climatic information. Farmers are growing crops on a trial and error basis, hence low yields and crop loses. The objective of the study was to investigate indigenous knowledge of climatic conditions relevant for crop production using participatory techniques. Situation analysis was conducted to gain information on factors influencing crop choice. Participatory exercise was conducted with 33 of 104 of plot-holders. Farmers could identify climatic factors important for crop production and those limiting to crop performance. Hot, dry conditions during August to October and January months were limiting to crops, particularly sweet potato production. The results showed that indigenous knowledge of climate needs to be considered during agricultural development planning and scientists need to investigate linkages between modern agro-meteorology and indigenous knowledge.
This study found that plot-holders could identify climatic conditions that are important for crop production and their relative effects on crop performance. They also knew critical conditions that are limiting to crop production at Rambuda irrigation scheme. Empirical knowledge of climatic conditions using indigenous knowledge is an important factor used by plot-holders in deciding cropping seasons and crop choices. This knowledge can be used in land suitability evaluation, particularly in areas where there is no recorded climatic data. There was slight difference between recorded climatic data and plot holders observations of climatic conditions at certain months. More research is needed to document climatic criteria used by indigenous farmers under indigenous knowledge system to decide on crops to be grown in their locations. Findings from such studies can be used to record indigenous knowledge and integrate it into modern land suitability assessment guidelines. In general, indigenous knowledge of climate could be used to describe climatic conditions in areas without modern weather stations.