Indigenous knowledge has traditionally been the most important source of information about agricultural practices and production in many rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Modern, scientific knowledge has increasingly contested and replaced this knowledge, but has itself not always been adapted to local conditions, in contrast to indigenous knowledge that has evolved over time and is very place-specific. Since most indigenous knowledge is held in oral expressions; like proverbs, folklore and songs, documentation of the knowledge is important for its preservation and possible future use. This study documents the role of indigenous knowledge in a traditional land suitability evaluation system used by the Acholi ethnic group of northern Uganda. Farmers’ traditional knowledge was elicited using questionnaire surveys and focus group discussions in Amuru district. The results reveal that all the respondents regardless of age and gender were aware of how land evaluation is assessed using indigenous knowledge. The most common indigenous land evaluation techniques and practices range from soil classification, use of indicator plants, observable soil organisms, vegetation species diversity and soil depth. Also, the long period of stay in Internally Displaced Peoples’ camps did not affect the indigenous knowledge. It was noted that although indigenous knowledge is widely known, it is not applied by everyone or it plays a subordinate role in current land suitability evaluation, vis-à-vis other factors, that is, land availability constraints, unbalanced gender-based power relations in land use allocation, and land allocation between arable farming and grazing.
Key words: Indigenous knowledge, land suitability evaluation, Acholi.
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