ICRAF Local Knowledge Toolkit (AKT5)

Over recent years, there has been increasing awareness that local knowledge and practices should be recognised in developing initiatives aimed at sustaining and improving the livelihoods of farming communities and the environment. Interest amongst research, education and development institutions to investigate and document local knowledge has grown significantly over the last few years. Bangor University is a leading institution in the development of a knowledge-based systems methodology and software called the Agro-ecological Knowledge Toolkit (AKT). The AKT5 software was developed by Bangor University in conjunction with the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University. Through a close partnership, Bangor University works with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to integrate AKT into international research and development projects in order to design more effective interventions that work on the ground. The aim of the toolkit is to elicit local ecological knowledge in a rigorous and systematic way in order for it to be robust enough to be useful for informing projects. It was designed to provide an environment for knowledge acquisition in order to create knowledge bases from a range of sources. It allows representation of knowledge elicited from farmers and scientists or knowledge abstracted from written material. The use of formal knowledge representation procedures offers researchers the ability to evaluate and utilise the often complex, qualitative information relevant stakeholders have on agro-ecological practices and the knowledge underlying these practices. The methodology associated with knowledge elicitation for the AKT5 system allows for formalized flexible knowledge bases to be created.

Local ecological knowledge refers to what people know about their natural environment, based primarily on their own experience and observation. Where management has a large impact on the natural resource base, it is useful to refer to it as agro-ecological knowledge, to emphasise the management component. The tool enables explicit representation of local knowledge through the use of a knowledge based systems approach. This is a methodology for formally representing qualitative knowledge on a computer. It is based on the premise that most knowledge can be broken down into short statements and associated taxonomies of the terms that are used in them. These can then be represented on a computer as a knowledge base using a formal grammar and a series of hierarchies of terms. Connections amongst statements can be explored by viewing sets of related statements as causal diagrams. The formal recording of knowledge in this way also makes it possible to use automated reasoning procedures to help evaluate and explore complex knowledge domains.

The toolkit has been used successfully in a number of projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America and has been adopted globally by ICRAF. Projects have included development of multi-strata cocoa and non-timber forest products in Ghana and Cameroon; jungle rubber, soil conservation and Javanese home garden systems in Indonesia; participatory plant breeding for cassava in Colombia; fodder systems in Nepal; forest gardens and smallholder rubber in Sri Lanka; range management in South Africa and Lesotho; trees in crop fields and rangelands in Kenya and Tanzania. A Spanish language version is used in Latin America by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) and a Thai version has been developed in conjunction with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in Thailand. The tool is also available in French and Spanish languages.

Summary of uses: Eliciting and analysing local ecological knowledge (what people know about their environment)

Data and Resources




Data Types

AgroVoc Tags


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Additional Information

Field Value
Website http://akt.bangor.ac.uk/
Contributing organisations International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)
Contact person Anne Kuria
Alternate contact Genevieve Lamond,Tim Pagella
Developer University of Wales, Bangor
Year 1998.0
Last update 2014.0
Person responsible for updates University of Wales, Bangor
Source code http://akt.bangor.ac.uk/Software.php
Participatory approach / method to address complexity
Target audience
When in the project cycle is the tool useful
Contribution to gender research
Spatial scale
Levels of organizations taken into account
Source of data
Expected output of tool
Type of assessment
Tool manual/User guide http://akt.bangor.ac.uk/AKTManual.php
Citation Dixon, H., Doores, J.W., Joshi, L., and Sinclair, F.L. (2001) Agroecological Knowledge Toolkit for Windows: methodological guidelines, computer software and manual for WinAKT. School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK.