Addresses the failures of current agricultural research and extension practices in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Looks at rural people's knowledge in formal research and extension programmes, considering Farming Systems Research and the Transfer Technology Model. Institutional biases and research agendas are considered. The paper postulates that there has been a failure to engage farmers in research and extension, as well as a failure to consider the class, ethnic, gender and age differences that affect the relationships between persons working for agricultural development agencies and rural people. Following this the paper concentrates its analysis on rural people's knowledge itself, and presents its conclusions within that context.
This brief article describes the strengths of local participation and the limits of local knowledge in the context of a long term research and development project in Eastern Amazonia which focuses on the subsistence and economic value of non-timber forest products for rural communities. The benefits and shortcomings of local knowledge to ecological research are outlined. Suggestions are made on how the significant gaps in local knowledge can be complemented by more conventional biophysical methods. The use of long-term ecological methods along with PRA are described while highlighting the utility of PRA when used in conjunction with other quantitative methods. The paper also points out the dilemma facing the researcher, that is whether to give priority to publishing research results for an outside audience, or making the information accessible to the local people.