Validation of technology in ICTA


Material Information

Validation of technology in ICTA
Alternate title:
Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícolas
Physical Description:
13, 2 p. : ill., ; 28 cm.
Fumagalli, Astolfo
Waugh, Robert K
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture -- Technology transfer -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:


Statement of Responsibility:
Astolfo Fumagalli, Robert K. Waugh.
General Note:
General Note:
"May 1977."
General Note:
"Presented at the CIAT Seminar May 31,1977, Cali - Colombia."

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 757549954
lcc - S544.5.G8 1977 .F8
System ID:

Full Text


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Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH

ICTA Agricultural Science and
Technological Institute
(Instituto de Ciencia y
Tecnologia Agricolas)

May, 1977

Presented at the CIAT Seminar
May 31, 1977, Cali Colombia



Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH

ICTA Agricultural Science and
Technological Institute
(Instituto de Ciencia y
Tecnologra Agricolas)
Guatemala, C.A.

ICTA was organized as a decentralized institute of the Governmental Agricultura I

Sector of Guatemala. The main objectives are the generation and promotion of techno-

logy to increase agricultural production and productivity, and contribute to rural deve-

lopment and the wellbeing of the rural population.

To date the main priorities have been the basic food grains: maize, beans, rice,

wheat, and sorghum. Secondary priorities have been horticultural crops, mainly for

export, and swine. Some work has been done with soybeans and other crops. Food

crops will undoubtedly continue to be of top priority for the long run, but new policies

will very likely be applied to horticulture, other crops and cattle in the future.

ICTA works for all farmers of Guatemala, but the small farmer is considered

the principal client.

ICTA was organized, keeping in mind that a lot of technology is available:

a. Previously generated technology within Guatemala and that more would be

generated in the future within ICTA.

b. Technology from the International Centers, a relatively new source.

c. Universities would continue to be generators of technology.

d. Governments generate technology and make technologies generated by other

sources available.

e. Industry offers a lot of technology (fertilizers, seeds, herbicides, etc.)

f. There are also other sources of technology (foundations, regional organizations,


The technology from all of these sources would have to be tested or revalidated

under the conditions of its application if it were to be recommended to the small far-

mer. It was also understood that the highly varied characteristics of the country of

Guatemala would make the validation a major task.

No policy, strategy, mechanism nor institutional structure upon which to base

the validation of technology could be identified. Therefore ICTA would develop a

strategy and execute it.

Herein emphasis is given to the validation of technology. However, within

ICTA validation is considered as a part of the overall process of identifying,

generating, modifying, adapting and transferring technology. Therefore the vali-

dation of technology within ICTA is more than just testing technology under farm con-

ditions. It is the aim of ICTA that the work of validation of technology start the transfer

process, that some technologies can be generated in the process, that modifications and

adaptations can be made, that the farmer should become part of the team, and that some

preliminary measures of acceptance can be taken. It is believed that all of these, along

with studies to understand farmers and their practises, are important for a national program.

An international institute may have a much more direct interest in the evaluation of the

technology without some of the variants of the system followed in ICTA.

ICTA started only four years ago, and the strategies have already passed through

evolutionary stages; at times it was the basic strategy that was modified, and just as

frequently it has been the logistics and tactics. What is presented herein is a summary

of where ICTA stands today.

In organizing ICTA and developing the strategies which are being followed, the

term "validation" was not used but the term testing, or "prueba". By validation of

technology ICTA considers the following concepts important:

a. Technological evaluation should not be limited to a broad brush, general

evaluation of plant materials or fertilizer, but intense, concentrated testing

to evaluate new technology in comparison with traditional technology, with-

in specific and defined geographical areas or zones.


b. Economic evaluation.

c. Modification and adaptation of the technologies to the local conditions

and when grown in the common crop mixtures of the region.

d. Farmer evaluation of the technology.

e. Evaluation of the acceptance of the technology by farmers who have

tested the technology.

The process to this point is research. The process of transfer has been initiated,

to be sure, but the generalization of transfer of the technology follows the above

mentioned phases of work.


All of the technical work of ICTA is carried out within the Technical Unit for

Production. There are, within the Technical Unit, two kinds of groups directly con-

cered with validation of technology:

a. Commodity Programs and Support Disciplines, headed by national coordina-

tors, whose technology is under evaluation, and

b. Regional Teams headed by a Regional Director 1.

1/ The system of Regions is common for all the agencies of the Agricultural Sector.


Most of the work of validation is done by the Regional Teams with the close

collaboration of the National Commodity Programs and Support Disciplines.

A Regional Team is an integrated multidisciplinary group (Figure 1). Since

most Regions are too large to be covered by one team, there are sub-teams or area

teams within a region and these Area Teams, along with other personnel make up the

Regional Team.

The Plan of Work of the Regional Team is developed by the Team and its Di-

rector, but always subject to review and discussion by the Coordinators of Programs

and Support Disciplines that have projects or direct interest in the Regions. Work

Plans are reviewed at the national level in session chaired by the Technical Director,

and submitted to the Director General for approval.

In presenting the ICTA concept, it is difficult to know where to start because

it is a cyclical process.

Phase 1 (Figure 2)

One can start with what is called herein, for lack of a better term, Phase 1l2/

2/ In using the term phase, or in showing these phases in blocks on Figure 1, we cer-
tainly do not want to leave the impression that these are separate steps. In fact,
we believe to the contrary that the technological system should be a continuum.
It might be conceived as over-laps of phases. Neither does the process have to
start on the left side of our Figure 1 and flow to the right. If nothing of this sys-
tem existed, the most logical place to start would be the farmers and their farms,
and in any event, this is where the clients are located, and must be understood,
in order to transfer to them the appropriate technology.


the generation of technology, sources of technology, or say a knowledge hopper.

In Figure 1, this is called the experiment station. Here information and know-

ledge are received, and technology generated. The scientific process is basic. ICTA

relies heavily upon outside sources, and emphasizes research that should pay off in a

relatively short term. The process can be speeded by investing more money, and

the results made more relevant by understanding what happens to technology, at the

interphase between technology and production. For this latter the validation (testing)

process at the field level can be effective in reorienting phase 1 work.

Phase 2

Part of Phase 1 and all of the other phases operate at the farm level. The basic

premise of Phase 2 is to move experimentation to the field under farm conditions. This

is not a substitute for work done under Phase 1, but rather a continuation of Phase 1.

Neither is Phase 2 a parallel to regional yield trials to determine broad adaptability

of plant material nor an attempt to demonstrate broadly a technical practise such as

fertilizer applications or plant populations. While it contributes to both of these

points, it is directed toward a specific geographical area, which might be small or

rather large, not on a demonstrational basis, but experimental to evaluate technology

intensively (and concentrated) to determine its merits in comparison to present practises.

At the same time the technicians doing this work have the opportunity (and












by the







-_.-_..__ _____ _
e 2 Phase 3 Phase 4


Phase 1

Phase 5



obligation) to learn the details of local farmer practises.

This work is conducted with experimental designs, and statistical analyses.

Technologies are modified and adapted to local conditions, although this is given

more attention starting the second year, especially if little is known about the region.

Some local varieties and local practises are always included in the experiments. Va-

rieties are evaluated in association with other crops, if this is a common farming prac-

tise. Also, problems, perhaps not anticipated, are detected.

The Region Team members are becoming acquainted with local farmers, learn

their terminology, and develop relationships with farmers for the next Phase.

Obviously it is important to select farmers that are representative of the area

under study.

National single commodity programs and the groups doing field experimentation

and testing should work closely together. Normally a Maize Program would have 3 to

5 yield trials with advanced materials on private farms. This was the pattern before

ICTA in Guatemala. This year the ICTA Corn Program and the Regional Teams, working

together have 107 yield trials, all but 3 or 4 on private farms. This should be a tremen-

dous impetus to the work of identifying new materials. When selected, the ICTA local

or regional technicians will have confidence in the materials. Every effort is being


made so that other technicians of the Sector working on a regional basis will also know

the best of the advanced materials.

These yield trials are in addition to other agronomic trials with maize within

the specific regions. These would be fertilizer trials, insect control, weed control

and other cultural practises.

It is also in this phase that technologies generated by single commodity teams

are combined, the nature of the combination depending upon local farming practises.

It is at this stage that farmers start to become part of the technological team.

At this Phase there are two activities in which the Socioeconomic Group plays

a leading role. One is for diagnosis reconnaissance ) to understand the most common

farming practises. The survey team should have agronomist participation. If conducted

solely by economists and sociologists there is another transfer problem -- from the

economist to the agronomist.

There is some difference of opinion between the socioeconomic group of ICTA

and the agronomists. The socioeconomic group wants fewer and simpler trials and

more dialogue with the farmers, especially the first year. Agronomists have been

slow in accepting the viewpoints of the Socioeconomic Group. At the same time,


the strategy of the Socioeconomic Group would reduce technological testing this

first year, would reduce the scope of the screening and revalidation trials. Pro-

bably the position that needs be taken is between that of these two groups.

The second activity of the Socioeconomic Group is initiating farm records to

document farming practises and to determine costs of production. This has been started

with 25 to 30 farmers within a zone, which should probably be increased to 50 or more

by the second year. ICTA personnel monitor the records of the farmers through close

contact and frequent dialogue.

Phase 2 also includes economic evaluation of the technology. Some larger trials

are conducted. These are simpler and usually are not replicated. They provide econo-

mic data as well as experience with the practise on a somewhat larger scale. When

highly successful this gives added confidence to the technicians, and if not it contri-

butes additional information as to the degree of soundness of the practise.

If at this stage of the validation it is possible to answer in the affirmative the

question "Is this valuable technology for immediate use by the farmer?", the technology

is ready to be tested in what has been designated Phase 3. If the answer is "no" or "doubt-

ful", such information must be fed back to the groups assigned to generate technology.

The feedback system is important.

The Phase 3 strategy, farmers' tests, was designed:

- 10 -

a. To get new technology in the hands of farmers without increasing risk,

by using technologies tested in Phase 2.

b. To understand what happens to our technology when managed by farmers.

c. To incorporate farmers more deeply into the technological system and to

have farmers evaluate our technology.

d. To eliminate paternalism, the farmer pays for the inputs. He "owns" the


e. To remove dependence upon demonstrations. Evaluation of demonstrations at

this time, with little objective data to confirm the belief, is that demonstra-

tions have little value. A demonstration is something done by the government,

which has almost unlimited resources. Demonstrations have the inherent defect

of being always designed and planned to be successful. They do not face up to

the realities of small scale farming. Testing technology should be conducted

to validate that new technology is better than what is currently being used;

the experiments will not always be successful.

f. To evaluate the acceptance of the technology by the farmer. During the season

following the farmers' tests, farmers are checked to determine if they have

increased the area seeded using the new technology.

The success of this Phase rests upon cooperation of farmers, but there has been

- 11 -

no problem in identifying such cooperators, starting with Phase 2.

Farmers are asked to try the technology. They are asked to test it. It is not

recommended that the farmer seed all of his area to the new variety or using a new

technology. ICTA suggests how he try the new material or method, and sells him

the inputs (ICTA loans him the inputs if he does not have the means to acquire them

and he pays at harvest time, usually in cash, sometimes in grain).

Hopefully yield data can be obtained from his plot or test (prueba). If this

is not possible, the farmer has already seen the results, the principal objective.

., There is an indication that the size of the plot is important. If it is too small,

even though the differences be great, the farmer is not impressed, gives it little

observation. The size of the pldt undoubtedly depends upon the availability of land.

In La Mdquina some of these plots are as much as one manzana (7,000 sq. meters), in

the Highlands as small as a cuerda. (The size of the cuerda varies by region in Gua-

temala from 1/6 of a manzana to 1/16.

In general, farmers' tests should be of a very simple design. Perhaps the start

is made with two treatments, with and without fertilizer. However, some farmers in

La M6quina have tested as many as three or four varieties of corn at one time.

If the answer to the question as to the immediate value of the technology con-

tinues to be affirmative, then the technology is .............................

- 12 -

ready for generalized transfer through the mechanisms (Phase 4) for application in

Farm production (Phase 5).

Transfer of technology is not the subject of this discussion. But one point seems

certain. If the validation can take place before the eyes of the transfer agent, or

with his participation, part of the battle of transfer is already won, before the effort

to generalize the technology is made. It is important to validate the technology, not

only in the eyes of the farmer but also in the eyes of the transfer agent.

In other words, a linkage between validation and the generalization of the

transfer process is needed. During 1976 a special effort was made in ICTA to put the

"Promotores" of DIGESA (DIGESA is the direct operating arm of the Ministry of Agri-

culture responsible for a major program of supervised credit) in contact with our expe-

rimental field work and the farmers' tests. This was done informally through conferences,

meetings, field days and the Regional Committee of the Agricultural Sector, which is

chaired by the Regional Director of DIGESA. This system has merit, but at the suggestion

of DIGESA this year on a trial basis we are working with DIGESA personnel to further

the linkages between validation and transfer by helping DIGESA "Promotores" conduct

"Pruebas de Fincas" on private farms.

Training for Validation of Technology

Last year ICTA conducted its first course in agronomic production, which in-

- 13 -

cluded the phases of validation of technology mentioned previously. The second course

is now underway. The strategy of validation and good techniques and procedures can

be taught to well selected agronomists.

The role of governments

The International Centers and the existing National Programs can do much to

move technology to the field.

Objective validation is undoubtedly important for effective transfer of techno-

logy. However, the key to the rapidity and effectiveness with which technology will

contribute to increased production and productivity is largely in the hands of govern-

ments. This leaves the question as to how governments can best be oriented to develop

programs needed by their countries.

ANN :( 1

Area teams for validation of technology

The size and make up of the area teams in ICTA have varied considerably.

The size of the area being covered,the diversity of the area, necessary travel time to

cover distances between experiments, the nature of the agricultural practises, and the

technical level of the farmers of the area -- all this will affect the size of the team


Another aspect of importance is what is already known (a) about the area

and the common practises used by farmers and (b) about technology for the area;

perhaps there is already some validated technology available.

If the work of the first year is largely to constitute a learning and explora-

tory process in order to understand local farmers and the screen technologies such as

varieties, the team can be small. However if the team is ready to test a lot of techno-

logy with the objective of determining specific recommendations, the team will need

be larger.

One of the errors made when the conditions of the area are not well known

is that in the anxiety to get ahead with the experimentation, the experiments are not

designed to give relevant results. Not only is time lost, but in the meantime farmers

are probably smiling to themselves over the systems of the agronomists, and the

farmers' confidence is lost. This does not mean that modifications to the local system


should not be tested but that usually the local system should be included in the

experiment, which not only is a point of comparison, but also shows the local

farmers that the agronomist knows his system. One procedure to learn the local

systems rapidly is to use local labor, probably the farmer on whose land the ex-

periment is located, and learn from him. This has another advantage in that it

incorporates the local farmer into the technological team early in the process.

Thus, the composition and size of a team can change with time. Perhaps

the socioeconomic discipline should be included in the team during the first year.

But he will not be needed for the same kind of work each successive year, and

he might be moved to another area.

Also once good technology has been tested and proven for an area a smal-

ler team can continue to validate new technologies and keep the technology for

the region or area up to date.