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Sillitoe - Chapter 11

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Farmer Knowledge and Scientist Knowledge in Sustainable Agricultural Development

Ontology, Epistemology and Praxis

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.

Farmer Knowledge and Scientist Knowledge in Sustainable Agricultural DevelopmentOntology, Epistemology and PraxisDavid A. Cleveland and Daniela SoleriWhat comprises local scientific knowledge of traditional or indigenous farmers (FK) and formal glob
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