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IMPLICATIONS OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN SMALL-SCALE FARMING FOR RURAL AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF GUANGUA WOREDA, AWI ADMINISTRATIVE ZONE OF AMHARA NATIONAL REGIONAL STATE [Abstract ID: 1209-10]
Ethiopia is the origin of a variety of indigenous crops and diverse farming practices which have potential to boost agricultural production. However, indigenous knowledge is still misrepresented in agricultural development intervention programs due to the lack of information as the base for policy formulation. To fill the existing knowledge gap, this research investigated the implications of indigenous knowledge in small scale farming for rural agricultural development in Guangua Woreda. Mixed research approach was used to collect the required data by overcoming possible shortcomings of using each method alone. Accordingly, a survey, focus group discussion, key informant interview and document analysis were data sources. Qualitative and quantitative methods were concurrently designed to collect both forms of data correspondingly. The study areas and participants for a qualitative approach were selected purposively while the respondents for the survey were selected through systematic random sampling technique. The sample size for the survey was determined by using proportional random sampling technique. 407 participants in total were involved in the study. Thematic analysis was used for qualitative data whereas quantitative data was analyzed via descriptive and inferential statistics. This study identified that farmers of the study area have developed indigenous soil fertility status indicators of their farmlands. In doing so, when farmers found their land fertility status to be high, they have been using soil fertility conservation mechanisms, such as cutting canal, unplowed strips and stone bunds/terracing. On the other hand, they have been applying indigenous soil fertility improvement mechanisms like manure, dung, and crop residue, fallowing, mixed cropping and crop rotation if they consider their land fertility status to be low. It was also explored that as farmers have developed various indigenous techniques to control crop herbs and pests which have comparative advantages over modern techniques. As most of the respondents identified, the main source of information regarding indigenous knowledge is community via traditional ways of knowledge transfer. Development agent’s misperception, little academic coverage and agricultural policy related problems were extracted as challenges that have been facing indigenous knowledge. Establishing participatory on farm research center and a multiple evidence base approach were suggested as best ways to integrate indigenous knowledge with modern knowledge.