Sillitoe - Chapter 08 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Sillitoe - Chapter 08

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Science and Local Knowledge in Sri Lanka

Extension, Rubber and Farming

Efforts to incorporate local knowledge into natural resource management are growing in Sri Lanka, following a shift in emphasis from 'top-down' technology transfer to more collaborative approaches. Although attractive in principle, these efforts are often fraught with difficulties. Here, I consider the relationship between Western-based 'global' science and local or traditional knowledge in Sri Lanka as mediated through farmer extension services. The ideology and practices of 'outsiders' have largely governed development in Sri Lanka, from British colonial welfare policies to a succession of 'poverty alleviation' programmes instigated by international donor agencies. Sri Lanka has a long relationship with global science in many arenas (e.g. medicine, education) and has an impressive record of agricultural research and support (Pain 1986; Somaratne 2003). Indeed, Research and Development (R&D) in farming feeds into the Sri Lankan government's primary objectives — poverty alleviation, economic growth and the sustainable use of natural resources — through efforts to improve technology and agricultural productivity (Somaratne 2003). While living and working with Sinhalese farmers1 I contributed to a natural resources R&D project on intercropping with rubber2 (hereafter called 'the rubber project'). During this work it became clear that a greater understanding of the factors influencing farmer decision making was necessary to increase their uptake of technology and ensure the suitability and sustainability of R&D.

Science and Local Knowledge in Sri LankaExtension, Rubber and FarmingMariella MarzanoEfforts to incorporate local knowledge into natural resource management are growing in Sri Lanka, following a shift in emphasis from 'top-down' technology transfer
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