‘It would be good to know where our food goes’: Information Equals Power?

‘It would be good to know where our food goes’: Information Equals Power? Book Section

Indigenous Peoples’ Innovation: Intellectual Property Pathways to Development

  • Author(s): Jen Cleary
  • Secondary Author(s): Peter Drahos, Susy Frankel
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: ANU E Press
  • ISBN: 9781921862779 (pbk.) 9781921862786 (ebook)

Abstract: Wild or ‘bush’ harvest of native desert species for consumption and customary trade has been actively pursued by Aboriginal peoples in central Australia for thousands of years. Bush harvest for financial return has, by contrast, been occurring in central Australia for at least thirty to forty years and is primarily undertaken by Aboriginal women in remote settlements. However, to date, financial returns for these industry participants have been marginal. Harvesters have relied on the activities of non-Aboriginal traders (as they are known) making buying trips to their communities, and this occurs in an ad hoc fashion, with little planning or advance notice. This has created a situation where the women are entirely reliant on the traders in several ways: for market information, including the dynamics of product demand and in determining prices; and as sole buyers of their produce, which occurs via cash payments. The women have stated that they are often unsure about what the traders will require from year to year, and have found that on some occasions they have harvested particular fruits and seeds only to find that there was no demand for them. Added complexities include the harvesters’ physical isolation from the market and a lack of transport and telecommunications — a common issue in remote Australia. The chapters in this volume were first presented at the conference ‘Intellectual Property, Trade and the Knowledge Assets of Indigenous Peoples: The Developmental Frontier’ in December 2010. Traditional knowledge systems are also innovation systems. This book analyses the relationship between intellectual property and indigenous innovation. The contributors come from different disciplinary backgrounds including law, ethnobotany and science. Drawing on examples from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, each of the contributors explores the possibilities and limits of intellectual property when it comes to supporting innovation by indigenous people.

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Suggested Citation
Jen Cleary, 2012, ‘It would be good to know where our food goes’: Information Equals Power?, Book Section, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3494.

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