Food security and traditional knowledge in India: the issues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In this first paper, we explain why traditional knowledge is an important theme in the study of Indian agriculture, especially given the crises routinely facing poor, smallholder farmers. We begin with an overview of some of the key authors who have written about the problems facing small farmers both within and outside India. Different authors have focused on different aspects of the benefits that can be derived from the local knowledge and skills of farmers, but these do not always pertain to organic farming. Our interest in organic farming is specifically about ‘traditional’ knowledge. With the industrialisation of agriculture in India and elsewhere, many poor, small farmers have been deskilled and placed into vulnerable positions. Traditional knowledge has been undermined, overwhelmed or has survived only in fragments. How ‘traditional knowledge’ might be retrieved, reinvented, reintroduced and modified so as to create a farmer-driven, sustainable and biodiverse agriculture is our concern. In the final section of this paper, we analyse the four situations we have been working on as examples of the possibilities and challenges facing the revival of ‘traditional knowledge’ in the villages of Kolkata, central India and Sikkim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-581
Number of pages16
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Food security
  • India
  • Organic farming
  • Poverty
  • Small farmers
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Traditional knowledge

Cite this