Monday, July 6, 2020 | ePaper

Agricultural Development

Indigenous Knowledge Ensures Sustainable Progress

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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder :
Although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) did not include a goal or targets on governance, the Millennium Declaration, adopted by the world's leaders in 2000, recognized the vital link between good governance, development and human rights. Based on over a decade of experience with development progress and challenges, there are now widely accepted arguments that governance should play a stronger role in the post-2015 development agenda: effective governance institutions and systems that are responsive to public needs deliver essential services and promote inclusive growth, while inclusive political processes ensure that citizens can hold public officials to account. In addition, good governance promotes freedom from violence, fear and crime, and peaceful and secure societies that provide the stability needed for development investments to be sustained. Women are crucial partners in all these processes.
Hence, governance enables the achievement of a range of critical development objectives. At the same time, as many surveys and much citizen action demonstrate, effective and accountable governance is also seen by many as an important end in itself. Since the MDGs, many Member States have entered into global or regional agreements that involve commitments to improve governance, as well as human rights, peace building, rule of law and transparency.
Well, our think tanks stress the importance of food security as a matter of contemporary global concern. Agricultural development project cannot bypass the burning issue like the survival of the small farmers and the landless.  Their maladies have accentuated due to perennial neglect the non-monetized and stagnant rural economy suffer.  Landholding in our country has long been subdivided and fragmented due to the operation of the law of inheritance. Population pressure over land has become unmanageable. The result is fast increasing of the number of marginal farmers and the farmers with no arable land. Those without land till cultivable plot either as wage earners or share croppers. The pre-existing process of production based lopsided economic relationship can hardly provide any incentives to the marginal farmers
Indigenous knowledge advocates traditional ways of doing things. To cite Wikipedia:
Traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge and local knowledge generally refer to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of regional, indigenous, or local communities. Traditional knowledge includes types of knowledge about traditional technologies of subsistence (e.g. tools and techniques for hunting or agriculture), midwifery, ethnobotany and ecological knowledge, traditional medicine, celestial navigation, ethnoastronomy, climate, and others. These kinds of knowledge, crucial for subsistence and survival, are generally based on accumulations of empirical observation and on interaction with the environment.
In many cases, traditional knowledge has been orally passed for generations from person to person. Some forms of traditional knowledge find expression in stories, legends, folklore, rituals, songs, and laws. Other forms of traditional knowledge are expressed through other means
'Indigenous knowledge is the unique knowledge confined to a particular culture or society. It is also known as local knowledge, folk knowledge, people's knowledge, traditional wisdom or traditional science. This knowledge is generated and transmitted by communities, over time, in an effort to cope with their own agro-ecological and socio-economic environments (Fernandez, 1994).'  This knowledge is created   by 'a systematic process of observing local conditions, experimenting with solutions and readapting previously identified solutions to modified environmental, socio-economic and technological situations (Brouwers, 1993).'' Indigenous knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation and conservation, health care, education, and the wide range of other activities that sustain a society and its environment in many parts of the world .'
Low productivity of the poor farmers as 'farm laborers' may be attributed to the stingy benefits offered to this toiling working class that cannot be called incentives as such. The small farmers hard pressed by increasing marginalisation sell their land thus creating 'uneconomic size of land'. The phenomenon of small holding estate poses a threat to food security. Capital investment on intensive cultivation for producing enough food has been in doldrums in the context of devastating flood that visit every year during monsoon.
The poor farmers   have been brought into policy fold under this institutional safety umbrella. Awakening of the small farmers and the landless to buttress their organisation potentials to the desired level can help them to be self-supporting backed by an institutional agency.  They will be able to change their outlook, attitude and approach. There needs to be action research under the aegis of small holder agricultural programme with a' full sequence of data collection; time series data, compilation, analysis, documentations and participatory assessment methods.
True scores of marginal farmers' families suffer tremendous economic losses because of    flood and super cyclone after the end of winter season.  The vulnerability of the marginal in the coastal belt is beggar description. As has been reported by business desk, the New Nation, "small holder farmers in developing countries who are working to grow more food in some of the world's most marginalized areas are already facing more job and livelihood challenges due to severe weather such as droughts and floods.
Alarmingly the number of landless and sharecropper has registered an upward trend according to the report of the recent agricultural census. There has been sharp decrease in the size and number of agricultural farms.
(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque Retired Professor and Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder, Pro-VC, BUP)

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