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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 4 Mini-case studies - How development can build on IK
View the documentMini-case studies
View the documentProblem identification and prioritization in Kiko Rosa, Philippines
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View the documentIncorporation of local free species in an agroforestry project in Layong Mabilog Philippines
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View the documentTraditional animal dispersal schemes in Cavite, Philippines
View the documentIncreasing food Production in Negros, Philippines
View the documentOvercoming labor shortages through indigenous mutual-help groups
View the documentPromoting the use of IK in Venezuela
View the documentFarmers' experiments in teak germination in Sri Lanka
View the documentPromoting an indigenous savings scheme in Ethiopia

Farmers' experiments in teak germination in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Teak is a tree species valued by most farmers in the dry zone of Sri Lanka—its timber is good for home use and for gale. Establishing teak trees, however, usually entails some cost —for purchase of seedlings or for travel to a teak producing area. The alternative, growing teak from seed, presents a problem: teak seeds are difficult to germinate and few farmers know how.

A project in Sri Lanka intended to answer the following question: What is the best method for germinating teak seed, for small scale nursery production?

The project also had three non-research objectives:

1 To increase the farmers) confidence and experience in raising tree seedlings.

2 To stimulate interest in group experimentation—possibly as the start of a wider program of experimentation.

3 To grow teak.

Having learned during informal farm visits that people were interested in trying to raise teak, two project agroforesters organized meetings to discuss the difficulties associated with germinating teak seeds. A few farmers in each group had heard of one or two techniques to enhance seed germination. Very few had actually tried these techniques— they lacked some technical details and they lacked confidence. The agroforesters and farmers pooled their ideas. They identified three methods and identified the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1 The traditional burning method—Teak fruits (with seeds inside) are placed on a shallow bed of paddy husk, covered with paddy husk, and set alight. The aim is to burn the hard outer seed coat without damaging the seeds inside. After burning, the fruits are planted.

2 Soaking and drying method—Fruits are alternately soaked and dried over a period of two weeks before planting. Most farmers felt this method would be reliable.

3 Opening the fruit to expose the seed—A sharp knife is used to open the teak fruit and expose the seed. Most farmers were unfamiliar with this method.

Farmers were asked to decide how much seed they wanted, and to decide which germination method or methods they would use. At this point, the idea of experimentation arose spontaneously in several groups—the groups divided the methods among their members. In return for the free seed, farmers were asked to keep records. The information, farmers were told, would be pooled and used to select the best method of teak seed germination.

All the farmers who received seed tried one, or more, method. The agroforesters made regular farm visits to help keep the farmers motivated, to help overcome technical problems, and to record results. This second set of records was a backup. It was found that if the farmers' streets were not filled daily, the information became unreliable.

Many farmers chose not to follow their initial plan: some who had volunteered to try several methods in fact only tried ore; others who had not appeared interested in experimenting tried several methods. In a few cases farmers asked for, and were given, more seed for further experimentation.

Analysis of the results was carried out in the groups and between the groups. It involved looking at the yield of the different methods: how many seedlings were obtained from a certain number of seeds. The methods were also judged for their convenience.

In order to help the farmers draw conclusions, they were helped to prepare a simple matrix to rank and score the three methods. The results of some groups were inconclusive. It was decided that the experimental procedure would be modified and experimentation would continue.

[adapted from PMHE (forthcoming), Report of the second PTD workshop, PMHE Project, P. O. Box 154, Kandy, Sri Lanka; based on fieldwork by Stephen Connelly and Nicky J. Wilson]. Source: Veldbuizen and Zeeuw 1992 (Vol. 4.2:28-29),