This study explores the method of wheat production among the Mapuche of Repocura, a poor indigenous area in the south of Chile, and how this can be successfully combined with the capacity and understanding of formal researchers. Six typical properties were selected after examining the land of 115 smallholdings, and a survey was done of those in charge of wheat technology in the main productive areas of the region. The authors concluded that for Mapuche knowledge to be successfully combined with the capacity and understanding of formal researchers, the latter must first change their values and recognise the worth of forming partnerships with peasants. Secondly, high quality interfaces between the producer and apparatus for the production of agricultural technology are required. The most immediate obstacle to achieving such an interface is identified as the isolation of peasant knowledge from its social and ecological context, which leads to significant errors of interpretation, assimilation, and application. The authors argue that such a creative interface is unlikely to occur for some time to come unless state and NGO decisionmakers working in peasant farming take the necessary political decisions to change the nature of agricultural research and extension intervention.
International Institute for Environment and Development