Loss of traditional genetic resources and indigenous knowledge

Cultural Survival's Samudra Cottage
Cultural Survival's Samudra Cottage

Many species, once plentiful, are now found in smaller numbers and some are considered to be threatened. Many species of medicinal and ornamental plants and timber have been over exploited. Some of the species are endangered. Genetic degradation occurs from more purposeful human action intended to increase food production.

Modern agriculture in Sri Lanka, particularly rice, relies increasingly on a few improved varieties with a narrow genetic base displacing the traditional varieties. Thus traditional varieties are among categories of crop germplasm that have been under the threat of genetic erosion in the last 20-30 years. The present traditional rice varieties under cultivation have dwindled to about 5% of total paddy acreage.

Transferring of indigenous knowledge from generation to generation has ended because now it has been replaced by modern scientific knowledge, influx of high yielded modern varieties and migration of people from villages to cities. The present generation, already accustomed to the modern technology, is not prepared to carry the indigenous knowledge over to the next generation. Therefore, in view of its value to the sustainable development, immediate steps should be taken to collect, document and preserve the indigenous knowledge before it is lost forever.

Genetic resources, Agro-biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV