Sillitoe - Chapter 11
Farmer Knowledge and Scientist Knowledge in Sustainable Agricultural Development
Ontology, Epistemology and Praxis
David A. Cleveland and Daniela Soleri
What comprises local scientific knowledge of traditional or indigenous farmers
(FK) and formal global scientific knowledge (SK)? How similar are they? What
is 'sustainable' agriculture and what roles should FK and SK play in sustainable
agricultural development? Who determines these roles and what effect does the
assignment of roles have on the success of development projects? These are some
of the questions that we have been asking ourselves and others during our years
spent working with farmers and scientists in applied research and development
in many locations around the world.
Conventional agriculture is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable, and
more sustainable ways of producing food are advocated both for industrial and traditionally
based agriculture (Matson et al. 1997; Tilman et al. 2002; Boody et al.
2005). However, sustainable agricultural development is a goal, based on values
(see Sillitoe, this volume). It increasingly involves participation of both farmers
and scientists, and thus requires an understanding of FK and SK. To respond more
effectively to the needs of small-scale farmers in the Third World, we need to discuss
openly the values underlying different definitions of sustainability to reach
consensus on goals of agricultural development, and the empirical basis of definitions
of FK and SK to understand their potential roles in meeting these goals.