Investigation of sustainable indigenous agricultural practices : a systems approach

Dlamini, Russell Mmiso (2007-03)

Thesis (MPhil) -- Stellenbosch University, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The overall objective of the study was to investigate and document IK (Indigenous Knowledge) in Swaziland from a systems perspective. A systems approach ensured that the reductionist nature of scientific theories and practices in social sciences did not become a limiting factor on the qualitative and explorative study. The study therefore covered a broad spectrum of IK including areas such as agricultural practices, food security, natural resource management, and values and beliefs. The study focused on identifying indigenous practices and on the interaction (link) between various elements of IK as a system to become sustainable. Secondary and primary data was used to inform the study. Primary data was gathered through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews conducted in four geographic regions of the Kingdom of Swaziland in the Southern African region. Participants of focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were elderly male and female indigenous Swazi subsistent farmers who still practiced traditional agriculture. Participants were selected using the snowball technique and their ages ranged from 45 to 75 years and were all from peripheral areas. Their perceptions of Indigenous agricultural practices were not entirely positive. The study was successful in harnessing valuable information from a wide spectrum including indigenous agricultural practices, indigenous knowledge systems, food security principles, and indigenous plants. It revealed that the major strengths of traditional agriculture are its affordability (sustainability) as opposed to the high cost of modern agriculture, environmental friendliness, and preference by indigenous farmers. The study found that indigenous knowledge was wearing out because it was no longer being used due to an alternative of modern ways. The study also found that the indigenous knowledge transmission was effective because it was a vocation rather than a theory. Indigenous knowledge was varied by agro-ecological regions. The study also identified areas of further research on specific indigenous knowledge to be pursued through experimental research. Although the study did not focus on attitudes it revealed that transmission from one generation to the next was a result of respect for parents and society, and adherence to strong values. The absence of an alternative way of living (livelihood) was also found to enforce IK. Finally indigenous knowledge systems ensured food security and upheld the three principles of sustainability: environmental friendliness, social and economic equity, intergenerational and intra-generational equity. The study is brought to a close with recommendations on how the findings could be adapted into development initiatives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die oorhoofse doel van hierdie studie was om IK (Inheemse Kennis) in Swaziland uit ’n stelselsperspektief te ondersoek en te dokumenteer. ’n Stelselsbenadering het verseker dat die verlagingsaard van wetenskaplike teorieë en praktyke in die sosiale wetenskappe nie ’n beperkende faktor ten opsigte van dié kwalitatiewe en ondersoekende studie geword het nie. Die studie het derhalwe ’n breë spektrum IK gedek, insluitende terreine soos landboupraktyke, voedselsekuriteit, natuurlike hulpbronbestuur en waardes en opvattinge. Sekondêre en primêre data is aangewend om die studie te verstewig. Primêre data is ingewin deur fokusgroep besprekings en in-diepte onderhoude wat in vier geografiese gebiede van die Koninkryk van Swaziland in die Suider Afrikaanse streek gevoer is. Deelnemers aan fokusgroep besprekings en in-diepte onderhoude het bestaan uit manlike en vroulike inheemse, Swazi selfversorgende boere wat steeds tradisionele landbou beoefen. Deelnemers is gekies deur toepassing van die sneeubaal-aangroei tegniek, hulle ouderdomme het van 45 tot 75 jaar gewissel en hulle was uit al die bovermelde gebiede van die land afkomstig. Hulle persepsies van inheemse landboupraktyke was nie ten volle positief nie. Die studie het daarin geslaag om waardevolle inligting uit ’n wye spektrum te bekom, insluitende landboupraktyke, inheemse kennisstelsels, voedselsekuriteit-beginsels en inheemse plante. Dit het getoon dat bekostigbaarheid die majeure sterkpunt van tradisionele landbou is in teenstelling met die hoë koste van moderne landbou, omgewingsvriendelikheid en voorkeure van inheemse boere. Die studie het bevind dat inheemse kennis besig was om minder te raak aangesien dit nie meer weens die alternatief van moderne metodes aangewend word nie. Die studie het ook bevind dat die oordrag van inheemse kennis doeltreffend was omdat dit ’n ambag eerder as ’n teorie blyk te wees. Inheemse kennis se aard was wisselend in agriekologiese streke. Voorts het die studie gebiede vir verdere navorsing op spesifieke inheemse kennis geïdentifiseer wat deur eksperimentele navorsing nagestreef kan word. Hoewel die studie nie op gesindhede gefokus het nie, het dit getoon dat oordrag van een geslag na die volgende ’n gevolg was van agting vir ouers en die gemeenskap, en verkleefdheid aan sterk waardes. Daar is ook bevind dat IK verstewig word deur die afwesigheid van ’n alternatiewe lewenswyse. Ten slotte – inheemse kennisstelsels verseker voedselsekuriteit en handhaaf die drie beginsels van volhoubaarheid, te wete omgewingsvriendelikheid, sosiale en ekonomiese billikheid en inter- en intragenerasie regverdigheid. Die studie sluit af met aanbevelings oor hoe die bevindinge in ontwikkelingsinisiatiewe aangewend kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/39794
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