The role and value of local knowledge in Jamaican agriculture: adaptation and change in small-scale farming

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Local knowledge has played an active role in the lives of rural communities in virtually every part of the world. In Jamaica, traditional cropping systems based on local informal knowledge have been practiced since the days of slavery and play a vital role in meeting food security. Yet, some negative attitudes remain about the legitimacy and relevance of small-scale farmers’ local and traditional knowledge. This paper discusses some conceptual and empirical issues related to the application of local knowledge among small-scale food farmers in central Jamaica. The paper argues that contextually speaking, local and traditional knowledge is valuable, adaptable and necessary in coping with risk and uncertainty in a changing world, while cautioning against a misguided notion of traditional knowledge as a panacea to all the ills of local agriculture.

Keywords: Jamaica; agricultural dualism; farmer innovation; local knowledge; small-scale farming

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Education, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Email: 2: Department of Geography and Geology, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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