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May 2001

Video: Sharing the Knowledge

Gender, Biodiversity and Local Knowledge Systems (LinKS Project)

Video: Sharing the Knowledge
12 minutes

Filmed in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, this video highlights the important role that the local knowledge of rural men and women plays in their daily lives. Moreover, the video illustrates the importance of maintaining and sharing this knowledge base at a global level.

Through generations of experience, men and women farmers have developed a vast knowledge about the management of the agricultural ecosystems which they depend upon for their livelihoods. Some examples of this type of local knowledge shown in the video include how people use medicinal plants for human and animal health care, their selection and breeding of livestock suited to the local environment, and rural farmers' preference for many local varieties of seeds over improved commercial seeds.

This knowledge has an immense importance today for rural communities in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, as in other countries around the world. Wild plants found near villages provide people with a local source of medicines, and locally adapted plant varieties and animal breeds can help communities survive during times of hardship. But even more importantly, local plant varieties and animal breeds provide the biological base for world food security. For example, all improved commercial crop plant varieties stem from material that was originally developed by farmers.

While stressing the importance of sharing this knowledge in order to benefit future generations and communities in other parts of the world, the video also raises questions about how to best preserve traditional crops and animals, and how to assure that custodians of the knowledge benefit from what they know.

The video was produced by the FAO LinKS project in collaboration with two other FAO programmes promoting sustainable use of biodiversity in the Southern African region.

A special thanks to the World Bank's Indigenous Knowledge Program for placing the video on its site. Please click here to view the video or the World Bank's Indigenous Knowledge web site.

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