Use of indigenous knowledge systems in farming and the implication to the environment:  A case study of Chimanimani District of Zimbabwe


The paper was presented at Chinhoyi University of Technology Conference in Zimbabwe held from 2 to 5 August 2016 entitled: “Interfacing Technology, Language and Knowledge Management with Sustainable Development”


Pindai M. Sithole, PhD

Director & Social Research and Evaluation Consultant in Development 

Centre for Development in Research and Evaluation International Africa (CeDRE Africa)

240 Samora Machel, Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe

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The study explored how indigenous knowledge systems (IKSs) in Chimanimani District in Zimbabwe have been and continue to contribute to both food security and environmental management through examining the nexus between:  (a) use of IKS and food security; (b) use of IKS and environmental management; and (c) combined effects of IKS on sustainable food security and environmental management.


Qualitative interpretative research design was employed through use of detailed in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with traditional leaders and community elders.  The choice for these groups of people was informed by the fact that they are generally associated with the reservoir of indigenous knowledge systems, beliefs and practices in a community.  Phenomenological underpinnings anchored the study because it was vitally important to bring to fore the various related IKS phenomena and attendant linkages to food security and environmental management in the community. Major findings include that ashes and leaves from some indigenous trees are used to enrich soil quality, preserve food, and treat livestock.  In addition, the ashes and leaves are used as organic pesticides for a variety of crops. The study established that these local knowledge systems and practices contribute to low farming costs, high crop yields and environmental management. The indigenous trees used this way are highly regarded and conserved often through practice and enforcement of taboos or socio-spiritual prohibitions. The study concluded that the body of local knowledge which is firmly rooted in the Chimanimani people’s culture and traditions is quite relevant and consistent with the national and global agenda to strengthen and sustain community food security and environmental management.  Furthermore, the local knowledge systems found in this study have policy implications in environmental management and climate change strategies, national knowledge management and intellectual property.



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