|Recording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)|
|Part 4 Mini-case studies - How development can build on IK|
Local vegetable varieties can produce stable yields, have high nutritional value, and tolerate extremes such as drought. They can be used not only for food but also for medicine, fodder, fertilizer, fiber, and fuel. Plant breeders look to them for valuable traits. And, since local varieties resist disease and pests, farmers can reduce or even eliminate their need for environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
IIRR encourages the use of traditional varieties. They benefit small rural and urban gardeners while preserving valuable genetic material.
IIRR home gardening programs start with an inventory of vegetables indigenous to the program area. Sometimes, seeds are collected from promising indigenous varieties in remote areas. They are then assessed and promising accessions are propagated and distributed.
Community members, particularly elders, are asked about the characteristics of their area's indigenous vegetablesgrowth patterns, tolerance to extreme conditions, pest and disease resistance, palatability, and food preparation. An IIRR worker tours the project area with community members to help ensure that ail indigenous vegetables, including those not commonly eaten, are identified.
Seed retrieval in remote areas focuses on varieties which are becoming rare. With the help of some knowledgeable community members, seeds and important information about the plants are collected.
In the Philippine provinces of Cavite and Negros Occidental, traditional varieties introduced from other provinces have adapted very well. Information gathered from people at the sites of seed retrieval helped maximize the potential of the introduced plants. For example, the people in Negros used to eat only the root of cassava (Manihot ecculenta), until it was learned on visits to other provinces that cassava leaves can also be eaten. This information was transferred during training and farmer meetings. cassava leaves, which are more nutritious than the root, are gaining popularity in Negros.
In Ethiopia and Kenya, vegetables which are abundant but no longer commonly eaten, have been repopularized as a result of an IIRR intervention which has focused on indigenous knowledge. Elders were interviewed regarding local plant varieties. They identified, among others, amaranth (Amaranthus gracilis), spider plant (Gynandrapsis gynandra), and nightshade (Solanum nigrum) as plants which had, over time, dropped from the local diet. IIRR staff encouraged their use through hands-on training, appreciation session and farmer meetings. Now these plants are again grown in home gardens.
Compiled by Normita G. Ignacio