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Regional Sustainability

Abstract

Agroecological practices are promoted as a more proactive approach than conventional agriculture to achieving a collective global response to climate change and variability while building robust and resilient agricultural systems to meet food needs and protect the integrity of ecosystems. There is relatively limited evidence on the key traditional agroecological knowledge and practices adopted by smallholder farmers, the factors that influence smallholder farmers’ decision to adopt these practices, and the opportunities it presents for building resilient agricultural systems. Using a multi-scale mixed method approach, we conducted key informant interviews (n=12), focus group discussions (n=5), and questionnaire surveys (N=220) to explore the traditional agroecological knowledge and practices, the influencing factors, and the opportunities smallholder farmers presented for achieving resilient agricultural systems. Our findings suggest that smallholder farmers employ a suite of traditional agroecological knowledge and practices to enhance food security, combat climate change, and build resilient agricultural systems. The most important traditional agroecological knowledge and practices in the study area comprise cultivating leguminous crops, mixed crop-livestock systems, and crop rotation, with Relative Importance Index (RII) values of 0.710, 0.708, and 0.695, respectively. It is reported that the choice of these practices by smallholder farmers is influenced by their own farming experience, access to market, access to local resources, information, and expertise, and the perceived risk of climate change. Moreover, the results further show that improving household food security and nutrition, improving soil quality, control of pest and disease infestation, and support from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and local authorities are opportunities for smallholder farmers in adopting traditional agroecological knowledge and practices for achieving resilient agricultural systems. The findings call into question the need for stakeholders and policy-makers at all levels to develop capacity and increase the awareness of traditional agroecological knowledge and practices as mechanisms to ensure resilient agricultural systems for sustainable food security.

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294

Last Page

308

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