Friday, November 11, 2011

Traditional knowledge can help farmers adapt to climate change

Sylvia Mweetwa in via the Times of Zambia: Is the world ignoring a vast storage of knowledge generated over thousands of years that can protect food supplies and make agriculture more resilient to climate change? This is among many questions most organisations such as the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) based in the United Kingdom are asking.

A number of organisations are now urging the negotiators to the United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference to be held later this month in Durban, South Africa to give support to traditional knowledge and address the threats posed by commercial agriculture and intellectual property rights.

For countries like Zambia which has over the years recorded bumper harvests, leaving some of its produce to rot due to issues of climate change requires support to assist in overcoming the world threatening challenge. For others the answer lies in making use of experts as a means of protecting food supplies as well as using other developed methods of agriculture to protect the environment.

According to a study conducted recently by IIED, case studies from Bolivia, China and Kenya showed that traditional knowledge and local farming systems have proved vital in adapting to the climatic changes that farmers in the three countries face.

This includes using local plants to control pests, choosing traditional crop varieties that tolerate extreme conditions such as droughts and floods, planting a diversity of crops to act as hedges against uncertain futures, breeding new varieties based on quality traits and having systems in place to protect biological diversity and share seeds within and among communities....

Women carrying grass/reeds for roof thatching and fences in Zambia, shot by Amanita Phalloides, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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