An exploration of the role of indigenous weather and climate knowledge in crop production : the case of Lepelle Nkumpi municipality in Limpopo Province
Weather and climate have potential in contributing to the livelihood of the communities. Knowledge about weather and climate contribution to crop production is critically vital. The relative research on weather and climate predictions is often conducted at a macro level. However, failure to address micro level weather and climate prediction information may contribute to food insecurity. Detailed studies have not been conducted to address indigenous weather and climate prediction knowledge at micro level in Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality. The aim of this study was to explore the potential role that indigenous weather and climate knowledge can play in supporting crop production in Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality, Capricorn District Limpopo Province. In order to achieve the aim of the study, specific objectives were considered and explored. Furthermore, the documentation of indigenous weather and climate predictions was considered in order to bring much needed alignment in preparedness strategies, and close uncertain, unreliable weather and climate prediction information provided. In terms of alignment, the research addresses the issues on how indigenous weather and climate knowledge should be integrated with western knowledge to come up with more accurate and usable weather and climate predictions for smallholder farmers in the study area. The objectives of the study were to investigate and describe the nature and types of indigenous weather and climate knowledge, assess the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of smallholder farmers, review and assess the impact of existing national and local policies on weather and climate on the utilization of indigenous knowledge, establish the link between indigenous and western weather and climate knowledge systems and develop a model for integrating indigenous and western weather and climate knowledge systems for improving crop production in Lepelle Nkumpi municipality of Limpopo province. In approaching the challenges of weather and climate variability which affect food security within the communities, it was important to consider in the study participation of smallholder farmers and Traditional Council members to elicit their knowledge and wisdom on the phenomenon under study. Prior data collection, a literature review on the phenomenon was conducted with an emphasis on weather and climate, its role, impact and contributions towards improving crop production and livelihood of the communities. However, western weather and climate prediction contribution to the livelihoods of communities is also presented and discussed. The persisting weather and climate prediction at a macro level is noted since it affect smallholder farmers in making informed decisions on crop production while knowledge of smallholders and Traditional councils' members are overlooked. This research employed decolonising approaches for the researcher to understand and respect the traditional protocols prior interviewing smallholder farmers and traditional council members. The African ways of viewing the world was also explored in conferring the smallholder farmers and Traditional councils the sense of belonging and existence. The focus was on African indigenous worldviews, cosmology, conceptual and theoretical frames of the study and indigenous research paradigms and designs. More emphasis in the study is on the application of decolonising research methodologies for indigenous research. Furthermore, indigenous theories that support indigenous research undertaking were discussed. The thesis explores the nature and types of indigenous knowledge available for use in decision making by the smallholder farmers and Traditional councils in Lepelle Nkumpi municipality, Limpopo Province. Indigenous weather predictions was examined based on plant phenology, astronomic, atmospheric and biological indicators. The recollection of smallholder farmers and Traditional councils revealed the prevalent of indigenous weather and climate indicators within their localities. Furthermore, the cultural and spiritual issues of importance in weather predictions were examined. The use of a questionnaire to assess the attitude and perceptions of the respondents towards weather and climate knowledge is key and based on an individual self-esteem. A Knowledge, Perception and Attitude (KAP) survey conducted to assess the attitude and perceptions of smallholder farmers towards indigenous weather and climate are presented in details. About 61 % of respondents who participated during the survey were females and 39% males. The survey has revealed that about 52% of respondents strongly agree with perceptions statements towards indigenous knowledge while 3.3 strongly disagree with the statements. It was also revealed in the study that gender influence on perception tend to be significant (P-value ?0.05). The study inferred that female respondents tend to agree more than male counterparts. However, the age mean scores for group between 50-60 and 60 above are not significantly different from each other at 5% level of significance. It was examined in the study that 55.9% of respondents very often consider attitude statements towards indigenous weather and climate while 3.5% are not at all consider indigenous weather and climate. Gender and attitudes of respondents have revealed that gender has an influence on attitudes and is significant at (P-value ?0.05) in all five attitude statements. The results from the study shows that female respondents very often consider indigenous weather and climate than male counterparts with a mean score of 3.4 and above while mean score for males is 3.1. It was also revealed that age groups of 35-50 that are not significantly different (P value ?0.05) from the mean score for age group of 60 and above. Therefore, smallholder farmers in Lepelle Nlumpi municipality consider indigenous weather and climate knowledge as important in making decisions on crop production systems. The study further explored on analysing national and local policies on weather and climate which considers indigenous knowledge in agriculture. It is reported in the thesis that different government institutions less considered indigenous weather knowledge in their policies. In considering policy status, almost all institutions identified and documents reviewed, indigenous knowledge system (IKS) elements are not in place. Only Department of Science and Technology reported on IKS elements as partially in place while Department of Environmental Affairs reported the inclusion of IKS elements in their policies. Furthermore, reviewed policy documents lacks issues on indigenous weather and climate considerations. It is concluded that policy formulation and implementation should be inclusive with contributions from local rural communities. In aligning indigenous and western weather knowledge on predictions, the focus was to achieve accepted and reliable weather and climate information for end-users. It was revealed in this thesis that the traditional councils/ knowledge-holders from the municipality recollection of the past extreme weather and climate events are well defined but not comparable with the information collected from three weather stations in the municipality. Knowledge-holders' experience and wisdom about the phenomenon understudy is explored. Furthermore, a participatory approach to integrate indigenous and western knowledge system is described with more emphasis to participants concerns and challenges listed during validation research workshop. The thesis provide a general discussion, conclusions and recommendations from the study pertaining to generated knowledge, findings and limitation realised. The study reflected more on decolonising approaches to indigenous research which assisted the researcher in involving participants and respondents from the beginning of the research to the end. The involvement of the participants as co-researchers enhanced the whole research process whereby every individual raised his/her voice and it was examined in the entire study. Above all these considerations, smallholder farmers and traditional council members' use of their ancient wisdom can contribute greatly to the development of weather and climate mitigation strategies while documentation of indigenous weather and climate knowledge becomes critical and require special attention from government and policy makers.