ICRAF Studies Local Knowledge in Ethiopian Farming Systems

World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)5 August 2013: The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has released a brochure on the value of local knowledge in agroforestry systems. The publication examines farming systems in Ethiopia supported under the "sustainable tree - crop - livestock intensification as a pillar for the Ethiopian climate resilient green economy" initiative.

The brochure outlines the many threats facing farming systems in Ethiopia including from land degradation, climate change and increased production demands. The publication examines farmer knowledge with regard to tree, crop and livestock interactions and concludes that the understanding of upstream conservation and downstream water supply is well-developed, as are the contributions of trees to livestock fodder and the importance of a cereal - legume rotation system to maintain soil productivity.

On the other hand, differences in the degree of knowledge on the impacts of livestock grazing on land degradation across the study sites are noted, as is a lack of knowledge on some ecological processes, largely due to limited exposure to the different sites. The brochure thus notes the usefulness of identifying and addressing local knowledge gaps on certain ecological processes and calls for capacity building and farmer-to-farmer exchanges of experience.

Overall, the brochure recommends that local knowledge be integrated into sustainable intensification actions, including through the participation of farmers in project processes. However, it is noted that since local knowledge is so location-specific, care should be taken with regard to the blanket application of local knowledge over a large area or multiple project sites.

ICRAF is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) [Publication: Recognizing Local Agro-ecological Knowledge in Sustainable Intensification of Tree-Crop-Livestock Farming Systems]