Indigenous knowledge on soil classification of ethnic groups in Luang Prabang province of the Lao PDR
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The objectives of this study were to demonstrate ethno-scientific elicitation techniques in retrieving indigenous knowledge at village-level, and to document the indigenous soil classification systems of different ethnic groups in Luang Prabang province in the Lao PDR. The study area comprised three villages — Nambo, Huaymaha and Thapo, in the Phonxay district of Luang Prabang province. Three ethnic groups were covered by the study — Hmong, Khmu and Lao Loum. All three ethnic groups used soil color as main criteria for soil classification. However, even within the same ethnic group, sometimes different villages have differences in the way they classify soils; this was apparent for the Hmong ethnic group in the villages of Huaymaha and Nambo. A significant difference of the Lao Loum ethnic group from the other two, was the emphasis used in classifying soil types according to their water holding capabilities. In contrast, the Khmu and Hmong classified many soil types in relation to their rock content (‘with rock’ or ‘pure rock’ sometimes being used). The results of the study suggest that the ethnic groups classify the soils in relation to their potential for different types of agricultural production.
Key wordsIndigenous knowledge ethnic groups soil classification anthropological Lao PDR
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