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Reinventing indigenous knowledge: A crucial factor for an IPM-based sustainable agricultural development

Elias T Moning, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Indigenous farming communities in Indonesia and around the world have probably lived the way they always have: relying on the knowledge and skills they learned from their parents and neighbors. Indigenous communities are not static; they include inventors and innovators who bring changes into their communities. These inventions and innovations change the community's traditional practices and may spread to the neighboring communities. The search for miracle seeds, begun in 1940's, was part of a major effort to fight world hunger. The dwarf Mexican wheat, for example, could produce quadruple the amount of harvest, and similarly the miracle rice seed---IR8---could produce more than double the traditional rates of rice production, both with application of urea. Using various credit packages as incentives and gimmicks, governments insisted that traditional farmers to change. They pushed the spread of high yielding varieties for "food security" reason. This explosion of yields later known as the "Green Revolution" Since its inception in Indonesia in 1968, the Green Revolution quickly replaced traditional agriculture. In fact, it destroyed the existing sustainable system of Indonesian agriculture and replaced it with fuel-based agricultural system, heavily dependent on manufactured chemicals. Under the iron fist of their government, indigenous Indonesian farmers were forced to adopt this new and modern system of agriculture with the single-minded goal of maximizing the country's food production, so there would be enough food to feed the nation. In 1989, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM trained farmers to observe and collect field data and conduct agro-ecological system analyses. IPM training prepared farmers to think critically and to make smart or informed decisions about their crops. IPM was the gateway to this new world of knowledge for the farmers. Geared towards restoring the farmers' ownership of knowledge, Farmers Field School (FFS) became an eye-opening experience for them. Indigenous knowledge and sustainability had always gone together and had almost become a unity. Traditional agriculture based on indigenous knowledge and subsistence practices of native people had became an inseparable unity that helped sustain farmers through difficult times.

Subject Area

Agricultural education|Agronomy

Recommended Citation

Moning, Elias T, "Reinventing indigenous knowledge: A crucial factor for an IPM-based sustainable agricultural development" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3212743.