Insects – a mistake in God's creation? Tharu farmers' perception and knowledge of insects: A case study of Gobardiha Village Development Committee, Dang-Deukhuri, Nepal
Agriculture and Human Values
Recent trends in agricultural research and development emphasize the need for farmer participation. Participation not only means farmers' physical presence but also the use of their knowledge and expertise. Understanding potentials and drawbacks of their local knowledge system is a prerequisite for constructive collaboration between farmers, scientists, and extension services. An ethnoentomological study, conducted in a Tharu village in Nepal, documents farmers' qualitative and quantitative
... ledge as well as perceptions of insects and pest management, insect nomenclature and classification, and issues related to insect recognition and local beliefs. The study offers a basis to improve pest management programs in terms of efficacy and acceptance. It demonstrates, for instance, that a concept of pests and beneficials is virtually missing in traditional farming communities and that the Tharu folk classification profoundly differs from the scientific classification, but is not radically different from other folk entomological systems. Insects belong to the taxa called kiraa consisting of arthropods and nonarthropods that interact with humans. They are classified in several overlapping hierarchies where locomotion and human impact play major roles while morphological criteria are almost irrelevant. Recognition of kiraa, however, is dominated by agricultural aspects followed by physiological-behavioral, ecological, and humandirected features. Morphological criteria play a minor role. In nomenclature, however, the insects' physical appearance is more important than other features. The study further shows that male and female farmers have different perceptions of kiraa. The insect-related knowledge system of the Tharu has prevented farmers from using modern pesticides in the past. In the course of modernization, however, some aspects of their knowledge system could become obsolete and prove disadvantageous to their livelihood and agro-ecosystems.