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Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (2011)

The role of indigenous knowledge in sustainable food production : a case of post-harvest practices in maize preservation in Mua Hill location, Eastern Kenya

Waithaka Mercy

Titre : The role of indigenous knowledge in sustainable food production : a case of post-harvest practices in maize preservation in Mua Hill location, Eastern Kenya

Auteur : Waithaka Mercy

Université de soutenance : Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences

Grade : Master of development specialising in rural development and communication 2011

Résumé
One of the main challenges facing Kenya today is to ensure food security for its rising population. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) spend a lot of resources searching for effective and sustainable methods of producing and preserving food. However, most of the strategies and technologies they develop never get implemented by farmers. Many farmers still rely on Indigenous Knowledge (IK), but its role is downplayed. Meanwhile, it is in danger of extinction because modernisation and other global changes have weakened its value and disrupted its transmission and preservation. The main motivation for doing this research was to provide MoA with information that would stimulate it to acknowledge the role of IK in ensuring food security and therefore make effort to preserve it for future generations. To achieve this, a case study was done to investigate the role of IK in preserving maize ; Kenya’s most important food crop, in Mua hill location of Eastern Kenya. The study explored maize preservation practices and IK circulation and preservation methods in the location. Two MoA staff and fifteen farmers were the sources of information. Qualitative and quantitative data analysing methods were used. The results of the case study reveal that both scientific and indigenous knowledge are used in maize preservation. For example a few farmers store maize in cribs, either the recommended scientific crib or the traditional crib. However, most of the maize preservation practises combine scientific knowledge and IK. For example most farmers store maize inside the house and not in the cribs which is the indigenous and the MoA recommended practise. The results also indicate that IK is in the custody of old people who have no one to pass it to and who may soon die, taking valuable information to the grave. The conclusion drawn from this study is that the role of IK in food preservation and in ensuring food security is real and significant. This will become evident in future as more IK practises are lost, if nothing is done to prevent it. The recommendation is that IK should be integrated with scientific knowledge in the MoA extension package and documented, for preservation before it is too late. This should be done urgently to prevent wastage of resources on developing technologies and disseminating information that will not ensure food security

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