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VALIDATION OF TECHNOLOGY
Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH
ICTA Agricultural Science and
(Instituto de Ciencia y
Presented at the CIAT Seminar
May 31, 1977, Cali Colombia
VALIDATION OF TECHNOLOGY
Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH
ICTA Agricultural Science and
(Instituto de Ciencia y
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
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
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.
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
Figure 1. REGIONAL ORGANIZATION OF ICTA
COORDINATORS OF PROGRAMS
Figure. TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEM FOR AGRICULTURE
-_.-_..__ _____ _
FEEDBC~L( ANJD Or, TIiON BANK
e 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
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
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:
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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
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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 .............................
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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-
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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
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.