Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation: A Study of Agricultural Scientists in Odisha

Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation: A Study of Agricultural Scientists in Odisha

Sunita Dhal (School of Gender and Development Studies (SOGDS), Indira Gandhi National Open University, Maidan Garhi, New Delhi, India)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jissc.2013070104
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Study of indigenous knowledge has been a challenge, as it demands cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary understanding. Of late, contribution of IK to conservation of resources and solution science has been realised by academia and policy-makers, which is expanding the frontiers of knowledge use for innovation. Interface between science and indigenous knowledge system (IKS) is increasingly observed in the field of agriculture, simultaneously putting emphasis on knowledge transformation at institutional level. With this central argument, the paper discusses essentialities of IK as socio-cultural base of agricultural innovation. Indigenous knowledge’s engagement with innovation reflects the nature of preservation of IK within the discourse of technology transfer. Findings of the study suggest that empowerment of agricultural extension units is essential for preservation of knowledge and to facilitate reproduction of appropriate knowledge.
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The evolving relationship between Indigenous Knowledge1 (IK), environmental technology and innovation, in sectors of agriculture, health, ecological resource-management, water and biodiversity conservation, is a recent history (Adedi & Khodamoradi, 2011; Gouvea & Kassicieh, 2010; Agrawal, 1995; Brokensha et al., 1980; Compton, 1989; Durei, 2004; Emami, 2011; Gupta, 1995; Robinson, 2011). Innovations2 have placed an increasing emphasis on inter and cross-disciplinarity of actions and methods (Bradshaw & Bekoff, 2001; Tress et al., 2006), which facilitated institutional inter-linkages leading to reciprocity between IK and laboratory knowledge. As noted by Lutzenhiser (1994), in 1990s the natural science institutions which dominated the environmental area are distinctively non-social in their approach and demanding alterations in their interactions by inferring linkages between environment, human, and society. Likewise, indigenous knowledge and practices of peasants are no longer perceived to be areas of under-utilisation of agricultural innovation; rather, these are seen as sources of new knowledge formation, and self-controlled forms of alternative development and social change (Agrawal, 1995; Bebbington, 1993; Robinson, 2011; Warren, 1991; West, 2006). The form of developmental pluralism necessitates reflexive and critical study of IK, and promotes its interface with scientists in the context of knowledge innovation and diffusion.

Agricultural innovation based on IK is evident; however, the processes leading to preservation of such a knowledge system and its incorporation into system of technology transfer are uneven and scattered across institutions. Specifically, the engagement of scientists with IK preservation and documentation initiate an interface between IK and laboratory knowledge, which leads to forms of innovation and shows multiple ways to address the challenges of knowledge adoption/dissemination. Examining the nature of this synthesis can plausibly reveal structural and cultural explanations of knowledge survival. Proponents such as Allen and Edwards (1995) have argued that conservation of biodiversity will be possible by attaching economic value to biodiversity (cited by Robinson, 2011). In this connection, conservation of IK is realised only by linking the knowledge with the process of dissemination. Through this study, attempt has been made to explore patterns of innovation and dissemination related to IK, which will serve as useful signposts to understand various ways of knowledge preservation and its use at the local level.

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