Indigenous approaches to maize production and soil management in Msinga KwaZulu-Natal, Province.
This study explored and examined indigenous knowledge IK in the process of maize production and soil management by farmers in Msinga in central KwaZulu-Natal. This study was qualitative in nature. Two methods were used for data collection: focus group discussions; and individual semi-structured interviews. The study found that the Msinga farmers have a range of techniques and strategies to produce maize and manage the soil; they have been relying on this knowledge for generations. However, many farmers have also begun to adopt elements of western science such as the use of hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides – albeit access to them is a major problem. It was also found that these indigenous knowledge and techniques have also suffered as result of different factors, including the climate conditions as result of the growing drought in the area, the passing on of elders with knowledge, and the breakdown of social cohesion. Communities' indigenous knowledge has been rendered ineffective to, alone, address their maize production and soil management issues. As a result, indigenous knowledge is dying in this community and the farmers are not able to produce sufficient maize to meet their needs. In the face of these pressures, the Msinga farmers also lack any meaningful external assistance either from the government or private agencies. They have no access to extension. This means that communities have to fend for themselves, and where indigenous knowledge has failed they have no other alternatives that will help them to adjust to their environment. Finally, the study found that as a result of this stasis, the Msinga farmers and their families are poor and lack the basic means for their daily survival; food shortages are frequent. The consequence is that they appear powerless and unable to cope with challenges. The study recommends an integrated approach to address issues of reconstructing indigenous knowledge; social cohesion; environmental matters; poverty eradication; external support and integrating indigenous knowledge and western science.
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