CIESIN Thematic Guides

Indigenous Food Production Systems

Indigenous knowledge systems can contribute significantly to increased food availability and security. For example, in "Rice-crab Production System", Rajasekaran and Whiteford (1993) discuss an indigenous system in south India, where farm laborers harvest crabs from rice field bunds. The authors' analysis of the impact of crab consumption on nutrition reveals that crabs contribute significantly to the protein intake of resource-poor households. Table 2 presents data on nutrition intake and food expenditure among the various groups of crab consumers. Table 3 shows the contribution of crab to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein. Identifying and using systems like this one is a significant step toward designing household food security policies.

Rajasekaran (n.d.) reports of another south Indian village in "An Indigenous Duck-Fish Production System in South India." Here, a women's duck-keeping organization raises ducks on common property such as communal tanks. Droppings of ducks in the communal tank increase the fish population. A statistical analysis of the impact on nutritional security reveals that significant differences are found in the consumption of protein, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C between participant and non-participant households. Despite the contributions of the duck-fish production system to nutritional security, sociocultural and economic constraints threaten the system's sustainability. Policy options that take into account sociocultural and economic factors are essential.