Participatory research has emerged as a powerful tool to identify agro-ecosystem indicators in developing countries. Indigenous knowledge, thus generated complements scientific information to the benefit of all stakeholders. This paper demonstrates the value of participating with farmers and hunters to identify indicators at a local level and how these supplement scientific information. Three examples are provided to demonstrate different degrees of participation and different indicator identification tools. The first shows participatory research to determine farmer constraints in Zambia and to explore the use of kraal manure and inorganic fertiliser in a traditional grassmound farming system. The second study concerns participatory research in rural areas of Bangladesh to explore a wide range of new technologies relating primarily to small-scale rice-based systems. The third study concerns participatory rapid rural appraisal to investigate biodiversity in a forest and a grassland area in Uganda. Participatory processes generate traditional knowledge that is broader and more descriptive than scientific information. Such knowledge can also be used to plan future research. The role of the interactive farmer–researcher process is discussed. It is concluded that participatory research has many benefits provided it is managed tactfully and farmers are encouraged to feel that they own the research process.
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2001
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