The term indigenous knowledge, traditional knowledge and ethno science have been used interchangeably to describe the knowledge system of an ethnic rural group that has originated locally and naturally. Indigenous knowledge is an essential cultural and technological element of human societies. It is unique to a particular culture and acts as the basis for local decision making in agriculture, health, natural resource management and other activities. It is embedded in community practices, institutions, relationships and rituals. Indigenous people view the world they live in as an integrated whole. Their beliefs, knowledge, arts and other forms of cultural expression have been handed down through the generations. Food production in these societies is focused more on long term sustainability rather than on short term yield increase and hence, enhanced biodiversity. This helps to reduce ecological and economic risks, promotes diet diversity and allows proper temporal and spatial distribution and utilization of resources. An attempt was made to review the indigenous knowledge associated with agriculture with an emphasis on black cumin production in Iran. First, technological, socio–economic and cultural aspects were considered in a context of a production system and then a case study was performed in some areas with a long history in black cumin production. Based on the analysis of the data obtained and comparison made with the conventional scientific finding, production practices were identified and recognized.
Key words: Nigella sativa, culture, indigenous knowledge, ethno science, Iran.
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