Knowledge Mobilization for Sustainable Food Production: Nutrition Gardening and Fish Farming Communities of Practice in the Kolli Hills, India

  • Author / Creator
    Hudson, Suraya
  • This study explores the importance of knowledge mobilization in the formation of more sustainable food systems. In particular, it examines the development and maintenance of sustainable food production practices that enhance food security for small farmers in the Kolli Hills, India. It uses qualitative techniques to understand how information and knowledge sharing about sustainable agricultural techniques takes place in two communities of practice (CoP) – nutrition gardening and fish farming. My exploration of the formal and informal knowledge systems emphasized the importance of combining traditional agricultural knowledge with expert and scientific knowledge to develop food production practices that improve nutrition for farm families and could increase household income. Farmers interacted with the formalized knowledge system through resources such as agricultural institutions and government extension, whereas informal knowledge systems included face-to-face interaction while collecting water, washing clothes or attending festivals and other community gatherings.
    My focus on each CoP allowed me to gain an understanding of the types of knowledge that practitioners had, the sources for that knowledge, as well as what information was lacking in order to properly carry out their respective practices. Nutrition gardeners lacked understanding of pest control, soil health, organization of plants and produce preparation methods. Fish farmers lacked information about timing of harvests, how to prepare harvested fish, how to market excess fish, and starting a hatchery. Farmers in both CoPs believed that face-to-face contact with experts and each other would be the most effective mechanism in order to improve access to information. When asked about the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), farmers agreed that video could be used to enhance meetings. Overall, farmers agreed that modern ICTs such as computers are most suited for younger, educated people, but the prevalence of cell phones might suggest their future use for accessing and sharing information.
    This study also examined the ways that communities are formed around sustainable food production practices, including the factors that have shaped their formation, their purpose and function, who is involved, and what activities hold the communities together. Amongst practitioners of both CoPs, their primary reason for participating was the health and nutrition of their families. The nutrition gardening community was created as members interacted informally in a variety of ways – through cooking demonstrations, exchange of recipes, and at festivals, etc. Individual participation, community cultivation, relationship-building and open-ended conversations were most valuable to them in the formation and maintenance of their practice. Fish farmers on the other hand interacted more formally and placed value on meetings, projects, content publishing and access to expertise as important in holding their community together. These differing qualities offered insight into the potential sustainability of each CoP. Nutrition gardening is no longer functioning due to a lack of rainfall, lack of access to a variety of seeds and gardening expertise. Fish farming continues to thrive and its success in contrast to nutrition gardening may be attributed to the value of being part of a collective and the excitement of learning together.
    This research has shown that understanding knowledge mobilization amongst small-scale farmers is an essential component in the establishment of sustainable food production practices that promote both food sovereignty and security for all.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.