The use of indigenous knowledge systems in soil classification, appraisal and soil productivity rating for maize cropping: A case of the Xhosa speaking people in Raymond Mhlaba Municipality, South Africa

  • A. Manyevere
  • P.N.S. Mnkeni
  • M.C. Laker
  • P. Muchaonyerwa
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, natives, soil classification, Xhosa speaking.


An understanding of indigenous knowledge on soil classification, and their perceptions on soil productivity could complement scientific approaches in providing answers to challenges of soil resources management. The article sought to explore farmers’ indigenous knowledge of their soil  resources in the Raymond Mhlaba Municipality in the Eastern Cape and compare them to knowledge gathered through scientific approaches. Key informants and focus group discussions were first used in the interviews after which 175 farmers were then interviewed using close-ended  questionnaires. Data on indigenous soil classifications and soil potential for maize production were collected. Soil laboratory analyses were carried out to correlate indigenous knowledge with scientific findings. Six soil types were described by the farmers based soil colour, texture and soil depth. The most productive soils were umhlaba omnyama (soils with mollic properties); dongwe (brown clays); santi (sandy soils); isidhaka (high activity clays); umhlaba obomvu (red clays) and urhete (stony soils). Generally, there was good agreement between farmers’ assessment and scientific
approaches. The findings underscored the need to combine indigenous and scientific approaches in give practical management interventions acceptable to farmers.

Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, natives, soil classification, Xhosa speaking.


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eISSN: 1683-0296