are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
|Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge||MOST/CIRAN|
Sustainable domestication of indigenous fruit trees: the interaction between soil and biotic resources in some drylands of southern Africa.DESCRIPTION
The indigenous background is that the local population harvests fruits from local trees in the veld, and subsequently plants new fruit trees around the villages. The fruits under consideration are vitamin-rich and the trees are able to produce even in years of drought. The products of the veld provide an additional income when the traditional crops fail due to poor weather. The practice aims to actually domesticate the wild trees. We do so by looking for the best phenotypes, finding the optimal conditions for the germination of seeds, checking the best conditions for seedling survival and so on. We can then link the tree-dependent success factors with the abiotic factors such as soil conditions.
The practice develops in two steps and takes advantage of local knowledge:
FRUIT TREES, RESOURCE UTILISATION, SOIL RESOURCES, ARID ZONE
The initiators are four university research groups, from Italy, Germany, Namibia and Israel, and a non-profit organization from Botswana. Researchers, graduate and post-graduate students and technicians carry out the project. Some parts of the practice involve local people who are interviewed about their knowledge on which trees might be the best to use. The stakeholder is the European Community and the users will be mainly technicians and extension services.
The final beneficiaries are the local populations. The extension services, which are active in both countries, will be needed to communicate the results.
There are no sex or age differences among the participants involved.
The university research teams all work on different research topics (Soil Science, Plant Science, Mycology, and Agriculture), which complement each other. The Botswana team has already worked for several years in the diffusion of indigenous trees among rural communities and in field trials involving local populations (especially women’s groups and school pupils). They all shared their different experiences, and what they thought was necessary to achieve a good result. The project is structured within the IV framework of the EC (INCO projects).
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
The project has several steps, all aimed at finding the best use of natural resources. For instance, the first step is to gather knowledge of the natural conditions. These conditions are then evaluated in terms of how they can be modified by man. This approach can be adapted and applied to any new problem. The best practice is multidisciplinary, meaning several aspects can be considered at the same time.
The main weakness is that it involves a great amount of scientific knowledge from different fields, especially in the beginning. It therefore depends largely on cooperation between research institutions.
POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION
This practice can be carried out in other locations and regions with very few or no adaptations.
There are a few restrictions:
In Botswana, with the help of the local people, we found a Sclerocarya birrea (morula) tree in the area of Mochudi: it produces very sweet fruits (more than 1 pH unit more than usual); very large fruits (approx. 70 g vs. 50 g of normal weight); and has a high yield. The seeds were collected and trials about germination, survival of seedlings, etc., are currently underway. The soil in that area has been collected and analysed. The data obtained, together with those of other sites, were used to determine the soil conditions that may best fit the tree requirements.
Organization that provided this information:
Universita’ di Torino
Veld Products Research and Development
University of Namibia
University of Goettingen
To MOST Clearing House Best Practices on Poverty and Social Exclusion
To MOST/CIRAN Database of Best Practices on Indigenous Knowledge
To MOST Clearing House Homepage