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ICTA AN INTERNATIONAL FARMING SYSTEM
Research can be directed toward different goals. It may be used to
increase the scientific knowledge, or for teaching purposes or to achieve
development on the industrialized nations, the three types of research are
conducted simultaneously and it has been the basis of their continuous
development. This is true in the case of industry as well as agriculture.
In the case of the developing nations, where human and material
resources are scarce, research should be the first priority in order to
enhance the starting point for development, however, for several reasons
this often do not occur, and therefore development is very slow.
Fortunately in recent years there has been some successful projects and
by analyzing them some experiences can be use in similar projects,
especially in the critical points.
Guatemala recently reached self-sufficiency on their basic food grains
as a result of a well planned and implemented "Plan of Rural Development"
of which research was an important component.
In 1971, Guatemala decided to improve the agriculture and in order to
accomplish that goal they reformed the agricultural public sector which
included research, extension, commercialization and credit.
In the case of research, it was decided that a new institution needed
to be created, and for that purpose a team was formed: two pre-projects
served as basis for a final third project which later was known as the
"green book". It is perhaps important to mention that in the elaboration
of the "green book" the team was formed by 4 nationals of Guatemala and 2
expatriates. The 4 nationals had a perfect knowledge of the agriculture in
the country, their problems and constraints, and they had expertise in
planning soils fertility. Agronomy in general and strong background in
plant breeding. On the other hand, the 2 expatriates were scientists with
long experience in Latin American agriculture as well as with international
The "green book" is particularly important because it was the "blue
print" into which ICTA was developed. It tell precisely what crops to work
with, in which areas, how many kilograms to increase in each case, with
what type of farmers, it also says what type of organization is expected,
how many researchers, how to function, how and when to train the personnel,
number of experimental stations and cost. of the whole operation. The
"green book" makes clear that ICTA is created with a specific purpose in
ICTA was created in order to achieve the following objectives:
A To improve the income of traditional farmers who produce the basic
grains such as: corn, rice, beans, wheat and sorghum.
A To improve the productivity of the agricultural traditional sector.
For a research institution clear-cut goals are essential.
What crops?: In the case of ICTA the mandate was to work with:
Generally research institutions tend to cover many crops, therefore,
dispersing they strenght in many activities. By concentrating in only 5
crops it was possible to staff each commodity with at least one plant
breeder and share among them the disciplines needed.
HOW MUCH INCREASE YIELD?
Corn: From 1156 to 1450 Kg/ha = 294 Kg/ha
Beans: From 724 to 769 Kg/ha = 45 Kg/ha
Rice: From 2136 to 3600 Kg/ha = 1464 Kg/ha
Sorghum: From 936 to 1344 Kg/ha = 408 Kg/ha
Wheat: From 1463 to! 1694 Kg/ha = 231 Kg/ha
The "green book" indicates in what area the new technology should be
applied in order to increase the yield. They were called "impact areas".
For corn the areas where in the Altiplano with 60,000 has. and the low
lands, La Maquina and Nueva Concepcion with 40,000 has. to make a total
area of 100,000 has.
For wheat the area was the Aitiplano with 31,500 has.
For beans two areas were chosen in the Orient Jutiapa with 12,000 has. and
Chimaltenango with 2,000 has., for a total of 14,000 has.
In the case of rice the area chosen was Champona with a total of 10,000
has. The "impact area" for the five crops will be in total 165,000 has.
W~hi~h FeFkrOB~nte about a00 of the total area under cultivation with those
crops (831,000 has.).
The number of farmers dedicated to grow corn were 65,000, in the case
of wheat 8,000, beans 5,000, rice 1,000, and sorghum 3,000 making a total
of 82,000 small farmers. Considering 6 members for family it gives a total
of 492,000 persons or 17.6% of the population that depend of those crops.
As the objectives to be reached where well define, the next step was to
form the commodity teams which will be the foundation of the whole project.
Of the quality and performance of those teams depended the success or
failure of the project. The first task was to create a team-conscience,
and to raise self-confidence, among personnel, by making clear to all of
them what the goals were and what was expected of each researcher, and the
strategies were discussed in such a way that they were fully understood by
everybody and at the same time everybody feel responsible for them. This
was accomplished by weekly seminars in which everybody attended as well as
weekly conferences attended by the coordinators, which subsequently held
team conferences. National commodity programs normally consists of few
local selections with a very narrow germplasm base. Therefore, they are
limited in productivity, adaptability, resistance to insect or diseases and
other traits. However, the local germplasm should be the starting point,
and the idea is to increase and broaden as much as possible the germplasm
in order to be able to find the desire traits. Unfortunately, to maintain a
large germplasm is very expensive and many nations cannot afford. That is
the main reason why the international centers were created. Their mandate
being to create and maintain a large germplasm in order to serve the needs
of national programs. Therefore it is important to build a link between
national programs and international centers. In the case of ICTA an
aggressive strategy was adopted from the beginning and consisted in sending
breeders to the international centers during the harvest season, in order
for them to get aquainted with the genetic material and breeding procedures
as well as breeders of the international programs. The national breeders
explain to the international breeders what their local problems were and
what; their needs were, and in that way a dialogue was established. The
national breeder was permitted to go through the all breeding program and
he could chose and take back with him, what ever he wanted. Also the
international breeder was invited to visit the national program. Using
this strategy, the national programs were able to select the "cream" of the
germplasm of the international centers and in that way to improve rapidly
their national programs.
Once having in operation the commodity-teams the next step was to
find-out what were the needs of the clientele. It was decided to form
teams, called production teams in order to comply with the mandate included
in the "green book", Pag. 72 and 73, in which it is clearly stated that
"the farmer will-form an active part on ICTA's activities" and "ICTA will
diagnose and do research at farm level".
At the beginning there was the idea to attach the production teams to
commodity programs so that the commodity team coordinator will be in
command. However, it became apparent that under this scheme the production
team could not be free to criticize the technology or varieties developed
by the commodity teams so the decision was taken that production teams will
be independent entities under the same technical director than the
Production teams were formed with young recent graduate agronomists.
The reason was that we needed pelple willing to live and work in the field,
and with minds capable to mold to a different type of work. Three teams
were formed and assigned to three different areas. They wer suppose to be
strong in agronomy and their job was to establish some exploratory trials
on farmers fields but with the main purpose of observing what the farmers
where doing and why. By working everyday with the farmers a mutual
confidence was established and a flow of information was obtained first to
the production teams and to the commodity programs. This information was
transmitted through the weekly coordinators meetings, and the first ones
needed a lot of "refereeing" since the reality was very different of what
was thought to be the reality, and consequently many arguments were raised.
Whenever an argument could not be settled it was verified at the field
level. In these way an interaction was initiated and soon both parties,
commodity teams and production teams, realized that they needed each other,
in order to reach the goal that was the same for both teams.
'The explaratory experiments were simple experiments design to explore
soil fertility, or plant densities, or variety trials but soon it was
evident that alteration in the experimental design and interpretation was
necessary in order to improve our performance. Four of our best production
team members were sent to work under Dr. R. Laird and Turrent who had
experience of the Plan Puebla. These production teams added also the
economic and social dimension that enable them to understand better the
farmer's goals and problems.
Production teams also called on-farm teams have demonstrated to be a
very valuable and indispensable part of a development program but in order
for them to function efficiently the following is necessary:
A That the commodity teams respond to their needs. Producing the
" That logistical support is provided as needed.
A That professional recognition is given to them for the type of work
h That the same incentives are offer to them, at the same level.
(Training, advance studies, seminars, trips, etc.)
A That minimum paper work is required from them.
A That the directors show interest and visit frequently their work.
From the above discussion it is clear that administration plays an
important rol. Normally, the administration services are located at the
capital and from there it is very difficult that they can provide the
logistic support that is necessary. In order to have an efficient
administrative service, the administration staff should have a clear
understanding of what the institution 5 goals are, and what are the
strategies to reach those goals, what are the missions of each.team, and
what is the rol of administration in the whole system.
In other words, it is important that the administration personnel feel
that they are involve in the same game. To facilitate and expedite the
logistic support a small administration unit is attach to each production
EXPANSION OF THE PROJECT
As was mentioned earlier, at the beginning only three production teams
were formed and they were assigned to three different areas, as these
personnel gained experience, one of them was selected to start another team
in another area using new personnel, but having as a leader the experienced
Whenever is possible, is better to place teams in areas adjacent trying
to create a network, so that teams doj not feel isolated.
Seed in many instances is the key of the success. Availability of seed
is important in the production team work, starting with the experiments,
following with the "parcelas de prueba" and economic trials and farmer's
trials. In this process the demand of seed increase rapidly and if the
seed production is not coordinated with the production teams work this can
become a serious constraint. It become critical when it reaches the
massive use by the farmer. Seed production normally is under an official
institution, however, official institutions many times do not have the
flexibility required for seed production and consequently are not
In the case of Guatemala it was taken the decision to foment seed
production on the private sector. As a result, there is in Guatemala
actually enough seed, inclusive to export to neighbors countries such as
Mexico, Salvador, Honduras, etc.
HAS ICTA ACCOMPLISH HIS GOAL?
In Table I we can see that ICTA not only accomplish his goal but the
technology developed went further that the 165,000 has. intended as target
areas and permeated and affected the whole area dedicated to those crops,
as can be seen on the third column. This is perhaps a good case in which
the technology was appropriate for farmers conditions so that several
disseminations means acted to extend that technology.
Again, money invested on research paid handsomely.
ACorn for feed
Aje For seed
AAA For seed and feed
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