Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation in Africa Through Indigenous Knowledge

  • M. B. K. Dakoh


It is increasingly becoming apparent that strategies are needed to help policy makers in Africa reconcile the task of conserving biodiversity while at the same time increasing agricultural productivity. In this paper, I explore some of the complementary activities between agriculture and biodiversity. I also discuss some of the characteristics and advantages of indigenous management systems in the management of agriculture and biodiversity. In the past, indigenous knowledge or local farmer knowledge about production systems has been largely overlooked, though, farmers are seen as partners to conserve and manage biodiversity whether for nature reserves, or to improve crops and livestock yields. I maintain that local knowledge systems, traditions, institutions and environmental conditions are fundamental to biodiversity conservation and management. As a matter of policy, I advocate the promotion of agricultural programs and biodiversity conservation projects that incorporate indigenous knowledge in their design and implementation. A blend of modern science and indigenous knowledge will be required to face the challenges of increasing agricultural production and managing the environment on a sustainable basis in the decades ahead in Africa.


Biodiversity Conservation Indigenous Knowledge Traditional Ecological Knowledge Agricultural Intensification Sustainable Basis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abromovitz, J.N. 1994. Biodiversity and gender issues: Recognising common ground. Pages 75–91 In: Harcourt, W. (Editor) Feminist Perspectives on Sustainable Development, London: Zed Press.Google Scholar
  2. Altieri, M.A. 1990 Why study traditional agriculture? Pages 551–564 In: Carrol, C.R. Vandemeer, J.H., and Rosset, P. (Editors) Agroecology, New York: MCGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  3. Altieri, M.A. 1987 The significance of diversity in the maintenance of the sustainability of traditional agroecosystems, ILEIA Newsletter 3: 3–7.Google Scholar
  4. Altieri, M.A. 1993 Agroecology: The Scientific Basis of Alternative Agriculture. Boulder, Colorado: West View Press.Google Scholar
  5. Altieri, M.A., and. Merrick, L.C. 1987. In situ conservation of crop genetic resources through maintenance of traditional farming systems. Economic Botany 41: 86–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Atte, O.D. 1989 Indigenous knowledge as a key to local level development: Possibilities, constra ints and planning issues in the context of Africa. Seminar on Reviving Local Self-Reliance: Challenges for Rural/ Regional Development in Eastern and Southern Africa, February 21–24, Arusha, Tanzania.Google Scholar
  7. Berkes, F. 1993. Traditional ecological knowledge in perspective. Pages 121–132 In: Inglis, J.T. (Editor) Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Concepts and Cases. International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Ottawa, Ontario Canada: Canadian Museum of Nature.Google Scholar
  8. Bohac, J., and Pokarzhevsky, K. 1987. Effect of manure and NPK on soil macrofauna in chernozem soil. Pages 1–2, 45–61 In: Szegi, J. (Editor) Soil Biology and Conservation of Biosphere. Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium, Budapest: Akademiai Kiado.Google Scholar
  9. Brokensha, D. 1986. Local management systems and sustainability. Paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of Society for Economic Anthropology, Riverside, California, April 3–4.Google Scholar
  10. Brokensha, D., Warren D.M., and Werner, O. 1980. Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Development. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  11. Chambers, R., 1983. Rural Development: Putting the Last First. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  12. Cullis, A., and Pacey, A. 1992. A Development Dialogue, Rainwater Harvesting in Turkana. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Darkoh, M.B.K. 1992. Planning arid lands development in Africa: Some reflections from the ringside. Pages 41–64 In Hjort-af-Ornas, A. (Editor) Security in African Drylands: Research, Development and Policy. Uppsala: EPOS, Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  14. Darkoh, M.B.K. 1996. Towards an adaptive and community-based approach to the management of natural resources in the drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa. Pages 73–99 In Hjort-af Ornas, A. (Editor) Approaching Nature from Local Communities, EPOS, Linkoping University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  15. Darkoh, M.B.K. 2001. Agriculture and biodiversity in the drylands of Africa. Pages 38–50 In: Wiseman, R., and Hopkins, L (Editors) Sowing the Seeds of Sustainability, Glands: IUCN.Google Scholar
  16. Eden, M. J. 1990. Ecology and Land Management in Amazonia. London: Belhaven Press.Google Scholar
  17. Friedmann, J. 1992. Empowerment, the Politics of Alternative Development. Cambridge Massachusetts & Oxford UK: Blackwell PublishersGoogle Scholar
  18. Gorse, J. E., and Steeds, D.R. 1987. Desertification in the Sahelian and Sudanian Zones of West Africa, Washington D. C.: The Word Bank.Google Scholar
  19. Havercourt, B.T. van der Kamp T and, Waters-Bayer, A. (Editors). 1991. Joining Farmers Experiments. Experiences in Participatory Technology Development. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Horwith, B.J., Windle, P.N., MacDonald, E. F., Parker, J.K., Ruby, A.M., and Elfring, C. 1989. The role of technology in enhancing low-resource agriculture in Africa. Agriculture and Human Values 4: 68–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Howes, M. 1979. The uses of indigenous technical knowledge in development, IDS Bulletin, 10: 12–23.Google Scholar
  22. Gamser, M., Appleton, H., and Carter, N. (Editors). 1990. Tinker, Tiller, Technical Change, Technologies from the People, London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Lal, R. 1979. The role of physical properties in maintaining productivity in soils in the tropics. In: Lal, R., and. Greenland, J.J. (Editors) Soil Physical Properties and Crop Production in the Tropics. Chichester, England: Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  24. Lalonde, A. 1993. African indigenous knowledge and its relevance to sustainable development. In: Inglish, J.T. (Editor) Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Concepts and Cases. International Program on Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Ottawa, Ontario Canada: Canadian Museum of Nature.Google Scholar
  25. Mathias-Mundy, E. 1993. Indigenous knowledge for rural development with an emphasis on sustainable living. Keynote paper presented at the 20th Waigani Seminar on Environment and Development at the University of Papua New Guinea, 22–27 August, 1993, Port Moresby. PNG.Google Scholar
  26. McNeely, J.A. 1995. Biodiversity conservation and traditional agroecosystems. In Saunier, R.E., and Meganck, R.A. (Editors) Conservation of Biodiversity and New Regional Planning, Glands: IUCN.Google Scholar
  27. Morin-Labatut, G., and Aktar, S. 1992. Traditional environmental knowledge: A resource to manage and share, Development (Journal of SID) 4: 24–29.Google Scholar
  28. Pacey, A., and Thrupp, L. (Editors). 1989. Farmer First: Farmer Innovation and Agricultural Research. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  29. Perrings, C. (Editor) 2000. Biodiversity Conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
  30. Richards, P. 1985. Indigenous Agricultural Revolution. London: Hutchinson & Co.Google Scholar
  31. Slocum, R., Wichart, L., Rocheleau, D., and Thomas-Slater, B. (Editors) 1995. Power, Process and Participation: Tools for Change. London: Intermediate Technology Publications, London.Google Scholar
  32. Srivastava, J.P., Smith, N.J., and Forno, D.A. (Editors) 1996. Biodiversity and Agricultural Intensification. Washington D. C. The World Bank.Google Scholar
  33. WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and USAID. 1993. African Biodiversity: Foundation for the Future. Beltsville, Maryland: Professional Printing Incorporated.Google Scholar
  34. Warren, D.M. 1991. Using Indigenous Knowledge in Agricultural Development. Washington D. C: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  35. Warren, D.M. 1993. Using indigenous knowledge for sustainable dryland management: A global perspective. Paper presented at the International Workshop on Listening to the People: Social Aspects of Dryland Management, UNEP, Nairobi, December.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. B. K. Dakoh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of BotswanaGaboroneBotswana

Personalised recommendations