Indigenous natural-resource management systems for sustainable agricultural development: A global perspective

TitleIndigenous natural-resource management systems for sustainable agricultural development: A global perspective
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsRajasekaran, B, Warren, DM, Babu, SC
JournalJournal of International Development
Date Published1991
Keywordsnatural resource management; on-farm research; participatory research

Increasing pressure for food production due to the rapidly growing population has led to the gradual disappearance of numerous indigenous knowledge systems (IKSs) related to natural-resource management. This process exposes the earth's natural resources to constant ecological instability (such as loss of genetic diversity) and severe environmental vulnerability (such as soil degradation and soil erosion). Recent research on indigenous natural-resource management systems indicates that they are highly sophisticated and complex, reflecting generations of careful observations of the natural and physical environment. Keeping these in view, a literature review has been conducted to identify major consequences of the disappearance of IKSs related to natural-resource management. An attempt has been made to categorize indigenous natural-resource management systems. IKSs documented from all over the globe and received at the Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development (CIKARD) were used to illustrate specific instances of locally adapted and economically viable indigenous natural-resource management systems. Such examples were found in indigenous agronomic practices, agroforestry, indigenous genetic resources, and pastoral management. An integrated natural-resource management model has been developed with an overall goal of increasing food production by small-scale farmers with a least amount of deterioration to nature's resource base. The salient features of the proposed model include promoting small-scale farmer participation, recording indigenous knowledge systems related to natural resource management, conducting diagnostic interviews, evaluating modern technologies and conducting on-farm farmer-oriented research (OFFOR) trials for integrating indigenous and modern technologies. Careful implementation of such a model could contribute to ameliorating the growing natural-resource problems of the developing world such as soil erosion, environmental degradation, and ecological destruction.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Symposium on Natural Resource Management Systems held at New Delhi, India, 6?II February 1990

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Journal Abbreviation

J. Int. Dev.



Short TitleIndigenous natural-resource management systems for sustainable agricultural development