This article is based on a study of the effects of a “maize extension package” on farmers’ indigenous knowledge (IK) in the Jima area of South-western Ethiopia. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were employed to collect information from farmers, extension workers, and researchers. Initially, semi-structured interviews and discussions were used extensively to collect information. The structured questionnaires were administered to 80 randomly selected farmers and to 40 purposively selected extension personnel.
The study found that there is a rich wealth of indigenous technical knowledge and practices relating to maize production, though these appeared to be rapidly disappearing and are seriously endangered. Findings revealed that the promotion of modern practices in a package format played a major part in this regard with noticeable effect on local maize varieties and informal seed systems, traditional pest and disease control practices, control over produce and maize utilization. On the other hand, farmers, extension personnel and researchers were somewhat aware of the importance of farmers’ IK and the fact that it is at great risk, though the later two tended to favour modern technologies over IK. Age, gender, farming experience, and resource endowment were found to influence the possession and use of IK practices.
Based on the findings it was recommended that vigorous efforts should be made to identify, strengthen and integrate IK into formal research and development efforts to make them more relevant, effective and sustainable. To this effect, enhancing awareness, knowledge and skills at different levels; designing flexible programmes, strategies and methods combining IK and modern practices, should be given greater attention.
Keywords: Maize, Extension Package, Extension Approach, Indigenous Knowledge, Ethiopia