• development;
  • values;
  • food;
  • income;
  • Indigenous knowledge

This paper discusses contested issues in development related to Indigenous knowledge, and conventional development practice and theory. Drawing on findings from field research, this paper argues that although development aims at improving the quality of life of people concerned, the understanding of such improved life quality is different between local people and development experts. Experts emphasise economic growth as measured by per capita income, which is sometimes inadequate in explaining local people's understanding of development. The findings of the study lay bare the underlying values of local farmers in northern Malawi that contribute to improving quality of life and living standards. Indigenous knowledge developed by farmers shows that progress is understood in terms of adequate food, fresh, tasty value-laden food available for consumption and utilising more than one part of the crops grown, and not just adequate income.