Title: UF Program in El Salvador--Creating Agricultural Economics
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00000254/00001
 Material Information
Title: UF Program in El Salvador--Creating Agricultural Economics
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E.
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Bibliographic ID: IR00000254
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida Institutional Repository
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Full Text
Creating an Agricultural Economics
Department and a Multiple Cropping
Program at CENTA in El Salvador:
Two years on the University of Florida contract

Peter E. Hildebrand
Professor Emeritus
Food and Resource Economics, and
Interdisciplinary Ecology
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida

In early 1972, the University of Nebraska contract on
which I was working in Colombia was coming to an end and the
end of my two year tour in Call was approaching so I had begun
looking around for something else. My interests still were very
much in the international sphere, both because of the money and
because we really enjoyed the life style. I also felt I was good at
doing what I did. At an American Agricultural Economics
Association annual meeting in the U.S. I ran into Ken Tefertiller
who had been with me at Texas A & M University. He was now
Head of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the
University of Florida. The university had a technical assistance
contract with USAID in El Salvador and he was looking for
someone to start an agricultural economics department for the
national agricultural research and extension service, CENTA, of
that country. We talked about it and made arrangements for me to
go to El Salvador to look over the situation and for them to look
me over. Besides the stated job description the person was also
supposed to work with the Ministry of Agriculture on a proposal
for an agricultural sector loan to the government of El Salvador.
Partly because I had done both of the things they needed from the
position they were glad to get me and I decided to take the job.

I arrived in El Salvador on April 6, 1972, found a house in
Escalon, a very nice neighborhood, and started out by working in
the Ministry of Agriculture and USAID on a loan application for
CENTA. Although it delayed my getting on with the job of
creating an agricultural economics department for CENTA, in the
long run it turned out to be very useful for me. I was working at
the top levels of the Ministry and became well acquainted with the
Minister himself as well as the sub-secretary with whom I worked
directly, the Director General of CENTA with whom I would work
in the future, and the Director of the National Agricultural School
(ENA). The vehicle that the AID mission had told me they were
ordering when I was in El Salvador on a TDY a few months earlier

to look over the job and for them to look me over, "had not yet
arrived." This did not matter too much because most of my work
at the time was in San Salvador and the AID Mission
transportation pool as well as the ministry pool worked well when
I needed transportation around town. I worked full time on the
sector loan from April 10 to May 25. On the day the loan
application was sent to Washington my work to create an
agricultural economics department at CENTA started.

Even though the agricultural economics department was to
be for CENTA, there was no office space available at the CENTA
headquarters compound in Santa Ana so we set up shop in the
Ministry in the Department of Farm Management in their
Direccion General de Economia Agropecuaria y Planificacion
fDGEAP, Agricultural Economics and Planning). At first this
worked fairly well because the Director General of DGEAP was
himself a farmer and knew CENTA and what that organization was
supposed to do. I had a counterpart (Eduardo Peria) who had an
Ingeniero Agronomo degree, two other sub-professionals
(agronomos) and a secretary, all in the employ of the Ministry
rather than CENTA. We each had a desk and supplies and the
secretary had a typewriter, but that was the limit of our resources.
The ministry was always short of vehicles so whenever we
wanted to make the 20 minute trip to the Santa Ana headquarters
or the 40 minute trip to the experiment station we had to borrow a
vehicle from the AID motor pool. By this time I suspected AID
had not even bothered to order my vehicle even though they told
me when I was there before that they would order it immediately
("We have just been waiting to see what kind of vehicle you
wanted," they told me at the time!) and after I arrived they
continued to say it would be in any day! I later found out that AID
not only had not ordered it, they never had any intention of
ordering it! I tried to get help from the University of Florida (both
our Chief of Party in El Salvador and the Office of International
Programs in Gainesville), but to no avail. I also bugged the
USAID Agricultural Development Officer, Harlan Davis,
unmercifully about it, but also to no avail. One of the conditions I
had earlier put on agreeing to go to El Salvador was to make sure I
had a four-wheel drive vehicle available for my use in the field. I

knew the necessity of this from my earlier experiences and because
I knew we would be working on farms much of the time. The
AID/Embassy motor pool works for what embassy staff think of as
"field trips" to other embassies or ministries in town. It doesn't
work for real fieldwork, particularly on a daily basis.
The National Agricultural School (ENA) was across from
the experiment station, well beyond Santa Ana. It was flmctioning
somewhat on the model of Zamorano in Honduras so students
spent half a day working in the fields and with the livestock and
the other half in classes. The school had a budget for fertilizer and
seed and they had farm tools available. We had none of these
things. I decided that a good way to get my agricultural economics
group into research was to undertake a relatively simple fertilizer
trial so talked with the Head of Horticulture at the school,
Alexander Aguiluz, who agreed to work with us. He supplied
students (who also therefore received research experience), seed,
fertilizer and other chemicals, plus water for irrigation when
necessary. We supplied the experimental design, some labor (the
four of us worked in the field when we could) and analysis of the
data. This proved to be a good and lasting marriage that
functioned all the time I was in El Salvador. Although we were
housed in the Ministry and working with the school, CENTA was
interested in what we were doing and we began attending regular
meetings at CENTA. However, we were not really yet part of
During the first month I was working with CENTA, but
still housed in the Ministry, I discovered a real dearth of data.
Because corn (maize) was one of the most important food crops we
first set up a record keeping project of corn demonstration plots in
17 extension agencies (about 70 separate demonstrations). We
also initiated a project to obtain farm level prices of basic grains in
cooperation with the marketing department of the Ministry
(another department in the DGEAP).
There was a two-year lag in the processing of experimental
data at CENTA. Part of the problem was the process of sending all
data to the statistics section for analysis (on calculators) and part
was the lack of any computer capability in that section. I requested

several computer programs from the University of Florida to use
on the IBM-360 computer in San Salvador to help alleviate the
problem and to be ready to process the results of our own
experiments as soon as we had the data. Chris Andrew brought
these down on his first trip. Chris, a former student of mine at
Colorado State University and good friend, had been with the
University of Florida program in Costa Rica after getting his PhD
and then moved back into Food and Resource Economics at UF.
He was the person I most often communicated with in the 'home
office.' During this first month we also finished the translation of
the applied methodology book that Chris and I had written in
Colombia (Planning and Conducting Applied Agricultural
Research) It was published in Spanish by CENTA (Planificacion
y Ejecucion de la Investigacion Aplicada) and was important in
training of CENTA personnel.
Much of the activity mentioned in the previous paragraph
came from my first monthly report (basically June, 1972 ~ part of
the official report from El Salvador to Gainesville from January
through June, 1972). As I read over the report it seemed like a lot
to get accomplished in such a short period of time (just over one
month). Upon refiecting on this I guess it is due to a number of
factors including: 1) the work discipline and administrative
experience gained with Tipton and Kalmbach and the West
Pakistan Water and Power Authority in Pakistan (1964-66), 2) my
inside knowledge of USAID gained from my year with them in
Bogota (1967), 3) my facility with Spanish gained over the four
years I worked with ICA in Colombia (1968-72), 4) the experience
with agronomic research and with extension activities with ICA in
Palmira (1970-72), and 5) my personal acquaintance with Ministry
and CENTA administrators in El Salvador.
We initiated a fertilizer study of six horticultural crops at
the school in June. It was completed, the data analyzed and a draft
of the report was nearly finished before the end of the year. This
compares with the two-year lag between experiment and report
that had been the norm for agricultural research in El Salvador in
the agency that was there prior to the establishment of CENTA.
Also, prior to the end of 1972 we initiated a more extensive

experiment at the school on sweet peppers, lettuce, cucumbers,
carrots, onions, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant and red
beets. We anticipated obtaining data on qualities and prices of
these vegetables and kept cost of production data. We initiated a
potato nitrogen by phosphorus by plant density experiment with a
widely available variety, helped Utah State University researchers
(USU also had a technical assistance team in El Salvador) plan
irrigation experiments including vegetables, and they were initiated
before the end of the year.
Also during this first seven-month period we designed a
sugar cane fertilizer study at the Ingenio (sugarcane plantation and
factory) Central Izalco and it was planted. This was a complicated
study of N, P and K as well as timing of application. The Ingenio
supplied all expenses and did the laboratory work and the results
were made public via a departmental publication (Hildebrand,
Harvesting sugar cane
We assisted in setting up a steer feeding trial designed to
study the feasibility of feeding steers in confinement through the
dry season. There were two different rations based on silage and a
third treatment was straight pasture plus mineral salt. We found

that eggplants grew very well so set up an experiment to determine
if cull eggplants could be fed to pigs as a substitute for a fattening
concentrate. We found that they could substitute one to one on a
dry matter basis for up to 20% of the ration. A paper was being
written. Information from the corn demonstrations began arriving
before the end of the year and work began on bean demonstrations.
Besides these studies, we completed a proposal for a sub-
contract to North Carolina State University for a study of vegetable
production in El Salvador. This was to be part of a regional study
NCSU was conducting in Mexico and Central America. The
contract for about $30,000 was awarded and was managed through
the Food and Resource Economics Department (Chris Andrew) at
the University of Florida and the Farm Management Department of
the Ministry of Agriculture of El Salvador. We arranged for David
Zimet, one of Chris Andrew's M.S. graduate students at UF, to
come down to do his thesis on the project and he was to arrive in
early 1973.
For this 7-month period, the Agricultural Economics
Department at CENTA still was not an official entity. However, in
all my correspondence with CENTA, and particularly with the
Director General, I had signed as Jefe (Head), Departamento de
Economia Agricola. The DG eventually began returning
correspondence to me as Jefe, Departamento de Economia
Agricolal It seemed important to me that they called us Economia
Agricola and not Administracidn Agropecuaria (Farm
Management, the name we had in the Ministry) because that
eventually would allow us to do marketing studies as well as
production. The Ministry had a marketing section, but they did
nothing about farm level input or product prices that were what we
needed. We had established a comprehensive record keeping
system for our commercial plots and were keeping farm records at
Monte San Juan as well, partly for this purpose.
We had continued to work out of the Ministry for a number
of months after we were officially named a department in CENTA,
when the Director General of DGEAP in the Ministry was changed
to one who was interested only in planning (for the Ministry) and
not at all interested in our working with, much less for CENTA. I

knew immediately that this was not going to be a workable
relationship so I went to the Director General of CENTA and told
him we were going to move out of the Ministry and to his
headquarters in Santa Ana. He knew the incoming Director of
DGEAP and understood my problem so he made room in an office
for us and we moved in March 1973. In the move we lost access to
four desks and the secretary and her typewriter, but gained one
desk and had part time use of the DG's own secretary, plus we had
an office. I was able to take my counterpart and the two
agronomos with me to CENTA. But now we had a more severe
transportation problem because the CENTA headquarters was in
Santa Ana and not San Salvador.
I felt strongly that the AID Mission had reneged on a
promise they made to me before I agreed to take the job and that
they had to provide me with a four-wheel drive vehicle. At the
time, I was using a four-wheel drive 'jeepster' from the embassy
motor pool that Damon Boynton had been using before he left. I
decided to just keep it. The mission was not against my using the
vehicle, but they wanted it returned every day to the motor pool
and checked out every morning. Because I left for work every
morning before the embassy was open for business, this was
nonsense as far as I was concerned. I did get gas at the embassy
during the day, so they did see the vehicle periodically, but I would
have lost two or more hours every day taking it in and checking it
out. So I kept the jeep at home at night (in the garage with my
car). At one point I quit getting gas at the embassy because I was
afraid they might lock me in and not let me out again. After
several weeks of nonsense, the mission finally allowed me to keep
the vehicle so I began getting gas again at the embassy.

We were doing a lot of work in the field away from
CENTA and ENA and I felt we needed a two-way radio to help us
communicate with our office, the office of the Director General of
CENTA, and the Ministry. USAID did not want us to put a radio

in the jeepster because "it was too difficult to get permission from
the Government of El Salvador to use a short-wave radio." The
band that was logical for us to use was the Ministry of Agriculture
band so I asked the Minister if he would approve us installing a
radio in the jeep and using his band. He was pleased to let us do it
and the Ministry obtained the necessary permission from the
national tele-communications administration. We installed it and
it was very useful. Our ID on the radio was 1024, which was the
license number of the jeep. The only stipulation the Minister put
on our use of the radio was that we needed to speak in Spanish.
This was necessary, not for monitoring what we were saying, but
because the phone patch the Ministry had was manual and the
operator had to listen to the conversations so he could switch us
from transmit to receive when we said, ''Cambio." One time I had
a phone patch to someone in the US who didn't speak Spanish so I
had to tell him at least to say ''Cambid" instead of "Over" when he
wanted to switch. That worked fairly well.
Peace Corps Volunteer
It wasn't long after we had moved to the CENTA
headquarters in Santa Ana in March, 1973, that I looked up from
my desk and saw a young 'Gringo' walk by the office. Being
curious about what he was up to I went out and called to him. It
turned out he was a Peace Corps volunteer recently arrived,
assigned to CENTA, and looking for something useful to get
involved in. He had a B.S. degree in Wildlife from New Mexico
State University and was working on an M.S. in Horticulture. His
name was Tito French. I told him what we were doing and
suggested that he work with us. That was the beginning of a great
friendship and productive relationship. His wife, Pat, was also a
volunteer and was working in the publications department of
CENTA. They had a nice house in Santa Ana where they were
raising their son, Chris. Pat was (and is) an excellent cook and we
became very good friends.
Because most of our (the Agricultural Economics
Department at CENTA) working resources came from the
Horticulture Department at the school, Tito fit right in. He was a
person with a great imagination and who could make things work.

It was just what the program needed. Even though he was not an
agricultural economist, neither was anyone else in our fiedgling
department except me. So that didn't bother anyone.
Multiple cropping: Multicultivos
In April, Richard Bradfield of The Rockefeller Foundation
came to visit us in El Salvador on his way to CATIE in Costa Rica.
He had been working on the biology of multiple cropping systems
at IRRI (the International Rice Research Institute) in the
Philippines and CATIE was interested in starting something with
multiple cropping. We had been doing so much work with
horticultural crops, especially tomatoes that we were running out
of the bamboo on the station that we used for staking the tomatoes.
Tito had suggested we try using corn stalks so we had planted twin
rows of corn in a triangular fashion and leaving enough space
between the corn rows to simulate the space between rows of
staked tomatoes. The corn was just coming up when Bradfield was
there, and after he left we decided to plant something in between
the corn rows. We started with beans and radishes. The
Salvadorans eat a lot of radishes in their encurtido, a dish made of
cabbage and put on pupusas, a dish made from tortillas with a
filling. Every evening many women have their pupusa stands
along the streets and roads of the country. This was the start of the
Multicultivos (multiple cropping) project, which was to become
one of the leading projects of CENTA. We officially initiated it in
June 1973.
From that point on, Tito and I, and the Agricultural
Economics Department, were heavily involved with multicultivos.
Unlike CATIE in Costa Rica and to a certain extent Bradfield at
IRRI in the Philippines, we were more interested in the application
of multiple cropping under the conditions of the small farmers of
El Salvador than in the biology of crops grown together
(intercropping). That is, we were interested in what rather than

Tito French and our tomato nursery at ENA
Alexander Aguiluz (left) and Tito French with the first double corn
rows. The tomatoes staked with bamboo are in the background.

Twin rows of maize with beans and radishes.
El Salvador was the most densely populated country in the
western hemisphere, so there was an abundance of labor. It was
important for the country to employ most of this labor in the rural
areas and not in the cities. Yet, there was little land available for
small farmers. In general, infrastructure was good in El Salvador,
and modern inputs were available and widely used. So we oriented
the multiple cropping trials to be labor using and land intensive,
and considered that chemical inputs would be available if the
farmers had the cash to purchase them. Bullocks were widely used
for land preparation (plowing) so we followed that practice. But
after plowing, all practices were carried out by hand labor.

Salvadoran men hard at work cutting up this tree for lumber!
Local stores were well stocked with agricultural inputs

^- -3BG?.
Farmers with their bullocks and plow
Don Martir plowing our experimental multicultivos plots

Corn and beans were the basic food commodities of El
Salvador, and they needed to continue producing as much as they
could. This was also important for the small farmers so they
would have enough basic food. But the government also wanted to
increase the production of vegetables to reduce the amount being
imported from Guatemala (particularly the winter crops such as
potatoes and cabbages). We were on the edge of the Zapotitan
valley, which had a large, irrigated colonization project area that
was to be the target of increased vegetable production, because the
cool season in Central America (the North American winter) also
coincides with the dry season. This is called verano in El Salvador
even though verano means summer because verano also means the
dry season. June, when we started the trial, is the beginning of the
rainy season (invierno, or winter) so we had some time before
beginning to produce the cool season crops.
Our double rows of corn were designed to maintain the
same corn plant density as was customary while opening up more
space between the double rows for other crops. Also, each side of
the twin row was an "outside" row so there was less light, water
and nutrient competition from other corn plants than when planted
in a standard, uniform row arrangement. Therefore, com yield was
little affected by the "twinning" design. At first we had a single
row of beans and two rows of radishes between the twin corn rows.
Later we increased the beans to two rows as well. After plowing,
all three crops were planted at the same time. One weeding was
required after about two weeks. By about four weeks there was a
complete canopy of leaves covering the ground and all three crops
were about the same height. It was interesting because from across
the rows, it was nearly impossible to tell what crop(s) were in the
field. This apparently also affected insect pests because we had
much less insect trouble than neighboring fields planted to just one
crop. At about five weeks the radishes were ready for harvest and
this also served as a weeding because little else except the three
crops was growing. The radishes sold for enough to pay all cash
costs for the field up to that time.


Maize, beans and radishes four weeks after planting
Don Martir harvesting radishes, five weeks after planting

After about 70 days when the com was beginning to
canopy across the open space, the beans were maturing so the
reduced light had little effect. Beans in El Salvador traditionally
are harvested by pulling up by hand and carried to a threshing pile,
so there was no change required.
Following radish harvest
The beans matured as the maize canopied over them


Pulling the beans and transporting to a threshing pile
Threshing the beans
When the corn matured it was normally "doubled" over just
below the ear so the ear can dry (upside down) on the stalk. At

that time we transplanted either tomatoes or cucumbers to use the
corn stalks as stakes.

Cucumbers staked on maize stalks
Other crops could be planted in the cool season in a like
manner. All together, about 3/4 of an acre is all the land one

family could manage under this intense, irrigated system and then
there were times when extra labor had to be hired. But as our
objective was to increase productive mral employment and use
land more intensively, this was what we were looking for. It was
interesting that often when a visiting American bureaucrat
(usually) or scientist (often) looked at what we were doing, they
would say that we should figure out a way to mechanize it! To
have done that, of course, would have gone the opposite direction
we were trying to go and what small and poor farmers in El
Salvador needed. But it is hard to change people's way of
thinking. On the contrary, when small farmers came to see what
we were doing, they more often than not said that if they would be
able to do that they wouldn't need any more land than they already
had. And visiting large farmers said that if small farmers could do
that they wouldn't want more of the large farmers' land! Both
groups were able to see advantages of what we were doing.

.>^ --^v ', Y
Several simultaneous multicultivo trials at ENA
As early as July 1973, the Peace Corps expressed interest in
working with the multicultivos. We were also harvesting large
quantities of eggplants and selling them through supermarkets and

the Central Market. One of the problems with eggplants is that
they spoil very fast when they are transported very far, particularly
in the heat of the tropics. I remember we tried a number of ways to
keep them from spoiling and used to haul them around in the
jeepster for days at a time. We finally found a way that prevented
spoilage for at least two weeks, even when we just left them in the
jeepster in the sun. We used a partitioned liquor box and put the
eggplants in, one to a section, and on their stems that we left longer
than usual. This worked amazingly well. It wasn't practical, of
course, but it did work! We also met with a local canner about the
possibility of canning baby eggplants. Pat French tried a number
of ways to can them and some appeared to have promise. It was
amazing how well the eggplants produced. At one point we cut off
all the plants. They immediately resprouted and kept producing!
The canner was interested and in October we planted more
eggplants for him.
In August, I went to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to the meetings of
the International Association of Agricultural Economists (lAAE)
to deliver a paper on the thesis of one of my M.S. students from
Colombia, Edgar Luna. The paper was called, "The Unforseen
Consequences of Introducing New Technology" and was based on
minifundios (small farms) in Naririo, a department in southern
Colombia. http://ufdc.ufi.edu/UF00075671/00001
Linear Programming
Dave Zimet, meanwhile, was working on his thesis and the
linear program that was involved. We also helped the Utah State
University team build a linear program for irrigation that they used
in their project. Dave was going to use the IBM computer in
downtown San Salvador to solve his program. When the time
finally came to see if we could get a solution, IBM decided that it
might take a long time, so they let us on the computer starting at
midnight. The computer was a big attraction so it was behind a big
plate glass window right on the main drag of the capital. We were
on view to anyone who walked by. IBM was correct and it did
take a long time to solve the program. One night we got on the
computer starting at midnight. At 8:00 the next morning when
they came to work, they said we would need to get off so they

could do their payroll. We told them that the program was
working fine (we had checked the iterations and it appeared to be
approaching a solution) and that we couldn't afford to start over.
They let us stay on until 9:00. At 9:00 it was still running. We
convinced them to let us stay on a while longer and finally at 9:30
it found a solution! What a relief It had taken 9 V2 hours to do
what in 1997 the computer on my desk could do in a couple
seconds! It wasn't but a couple of nights after Dave and I quit
spending all night in the window of IBM that someone exploded a
bomb there that shattered the window behind which we had been
working. Fortunately, nobody was working that night. After that,
they closed the steel shutter at night.
Other crops
Meanwhile, CENTA was very much interested that we
{Economia Agricola) continue with a large Fiesta tomato project.
We had met with CENTA to give a preliminary report and they
requested that we continue during the wet-dry transition and during
the dry season. We were obviously doing things that their
Horticultural Department was not doing and that they wanted done.
In the multiple cropping work, we were beginning the second cycle
crops including tomatoes, pole beans and cucumbers. The com
stalks were working well as stakes for all three crops. In
September, Tito and I were appointed to the "Potato Commission"
whose task it was to help increase potato production nationally. In
October we harvested our potatoes and presented the preliminary
analysis to the Potato Commission to help in designing the potato
By November, the Multicultivos project was the big
attraction. We were being visited by many extension agents (12 in
just one of the groups) and were planning a new, larger
Multicultivos project with extension. At the same time, USAID
and the Ministry requested that I begin working with Planning of
the Ministry on development and use of the sector model. I agreed
to do this and spent nearly flill time for three months at this task.
Nevertheless, in December as planned, we planted three tareas

(about 3/4 acre) to a "commercial scale" farm model at ENA using
what we had learned so far.
Our sign advertising the multicultivo trials.
That's me with the hat on
We also planted the first "regional" trial in cooperation
with extension in Monte San Juan with a farmers' cooperative
there. Tito and I were asked to give a paper on the multicultivos at
CATIE in Turrialba, Costa Rica at a meeting to be held in
February. We had achieved a tremendous increase in yields by
staking the cucumbers on the corn stalks.
Trial at Monte San Juan 2 weeks after planting

-C5V W^T *'-^ ; f :^ i..

The on-farm trial at Monte San Juan. In cooperation with the Utah State
consultants we also irrigated this plot using bamboo to transport water.

Our yield of 60 metric tons per manzana (more than 85
t/ha) at ENA was three to four times commercial yields and 2 to 3
times our former yields at the school. In November we completed
a draft report on the cucumbers.

^-^' ^

The simultaneous maize and cucumber harvest

Also in November we were well into the dry season and
still did not have capability to irrigate. The equipment arrived on
November 21 and was ready to use, but we had not been able to
get the pump on the river repaired by Grandes Obras. When we
finally did have everything ready to go, our crops were really
hurting. The men we had hired for the work were really worried
that we would lose the crops so they volunteered to work over one
weekend to open up the canal we needed and get the water started.
They did want to be paid and we did pay them, and we did save the
Irrigating the multicultivos in the dry season

In December about 100 campesinos visited our multicultivo
plots at the school. Of these, 22 were from the Cooperative at
Monte San Juan where we also initiated our first regional trial.
The others were associated with Extension agents who brought
them or sent them.
The Department of Agricultural Economics
The Department of Agricultural Economics at CENTA
finally became official in January 1974, and I was officially named
as Acting Head. CENTA was willing to wait until a suitable
person was found before naming someone Head. The department
had research and extension responsibilities at CENTA as well as
teaching responsibilities at ENA where we were eventually to be
housed (we moved into the new offices in March, 1974).
However, no extension positions were included at the time.
We planted demonstration plots every two weeks for demonstration so
visitors could see the progression

The staggered planting (Tito on the left)
Budgeting and funding were problems that required a lot
of time. The budget given to the department was less than we had
requested (not unusual), but also there were great and unforeseen
increases in prices of gasoline and fertilizer, which cut drastically
the amount of each that we could purchase. The price increase in
gas cut us to only about 37% of the amount we had been approved
for in the final budget. In addition, USAID had decided to turn
over to the Salvadoran agencies the vehicles that each had been
using, so we needed to fill my vehicle from CENTA flmds rather
than from AID funds. We had also not counted on this added
expense when we put together the original budget. These drastic
cuts forced us to reduce our program accordingly.
Various visitors to Multicultivos
We did keep up with the multiple cropping work on the
station and were visited in January by the President of the
Agricultural Development Bank (Banco de Fomento
Agropecuario) of El Salvador, the Director General of CENTA and
the Subsecretary (vice minister) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Farmers also continued to visit in groups. In March our visitors to

the multicultivos included the Minister of Agriculture and his
Subsecretary, the Director General of CENTA, the Commanding
Colonel of the Cavalry who was interested in putting his soldiers to
work producing some of their own food, the Director of Planning
of the Ministry of Agriculture, the owners of a food processing
company, a large number of farmers from many areas of the
country, some extension agents, and a group of managers from
cotton farms who were interested in ways their workers might be
able to produce more of their own food.
Some of our farmer visitors with the staggered planting (see background)
In April, among other visitors, was a group of reporters
for radio, TV, newspapers and magazines. As a result of their visit
there were five articles on the multicultivos in the newspapers and
reports on both radio and TV. We were also visited by the Board
of Directors of the Agrarian Reform Institute who were interested
in the implications of this intensive system on the amount of land
small farmers might need and the potential income they might be
able to expect. Obviously, this project was creating a tremendous
amount of interest and enthusiasm in the country.

Chris Andrew and Leo Polopolus (Head of the Food and
Resource Economics Department at UF) came to El Salvador for
Zimet's thesis defense in March, 1974. The flmding from North
Carolina State University had been invaluable in helping us to keep
our programs in operation in the face of budget cuts and price
increases. While AID was pleased with the work we were doing,
they had never been happy that we had the NCSU flmds that were
really USAID flmds dispensed directly from Washington. In fact,
when NCSU wanted us to renew our contract for another two
years, the AID mission in San Salvador prevented us from doing
so. Fortunately, in June, the Department of Agricultural
Economics at CENTA received a donation of one ton of fertilizer
from a local company, Fertica, and a significant donation of
chemicals from Bayer, both for use on the multicultivos.
Other outreach
During this time period, Guatemala began taking an interest
in our multicultivo work. In early March I had a call from Kirby
Davidson, Deputy Director, Social Sciences, in The Rockefeller
Foundation, asking if I might be interested in being considered for
a Field Staff position with the Foundation, posted to ICTA (the
new Guatemalan Institute of Agricultural Science and
Technology). I had just arrived at the office at CENTA in Santa
Ana, having come from a disheartening meeting with the Director
of USAID in San Salvador where we were discussing the potential
new NCSU contract funds. It was obvious that the mission did not
want us to get that contract and have funds that we could use
independently of their control, even if they generally agreed with
and were enthusiastic about what we were able to accomplish by
having some outside funds. I told Kirby that he had called at an
opportune time and that, yes, I would like to be considered for the
position. My dilemma in El Salvador was that if we went ahead
with the NCSU contract in order to have the funds to continue
working at the level we were working, I would lose the support of
the local (El Salvador) AID mission. Without the additional
NCSU funds, it was obvious that there would not be enough
funding to carry on the program except in a much weakened state.

In April, Miguel Ramirez (an Agronomo in the Department
at CENTA) and I were invited to a cropping systems conference in
Guatemala hosted by ICTA and IICA (the InterAmerican Institute
of Agricultural Sciences from Costa Rica) where we gave two
papers. The Director General of CENTA, Ricardo Cabezas,
accompanied us. This was the time I first met Astolfo Fumagalli,
then Gerente General (General Manager) of ICTA, and many of
the other people who worked with and for ICTA in Guatemala.
Astolfo says this was when he decided he wanted to hire me to
head Socioeconomia Rural in ICTA. I did not know it at the time,
but that was apparently one of the reasons they had invited us to
come to Guatemala for the conference. I was invited by ICTA and
CIAT (the International Tropical Agricultural Center in Call,
Colombia) to make another visit to Guatemala in June to look at
some multicultivo plots they had established there.
On June 26, I wrote a letter to Mason Marvel, Assistant
Director of International Programs at UF, in response to
information I had received regarding his idea of the inaction of the
UF team in El Salvador. Our Chief of Party had apparently told
him team members were just putting in time because of the lack of
support we were receiving. I quote from my letter:

I am far from just putting in time. This week, I am
working on the departmental budget for next year, the
quarterly report for the department, the annual report for
the MEMORIA of the Ministry, and am supposed to have
completed a review of the courses the department offers
(this I did not get done). On Sunday, the school (ENA) is
having a field day to which are invited the complete
congressional delegation, all the Directors of the Ministry,
many important farmers and a host of other people. In
addition there will be large numbers of farmers who will
be paying to get in. There is a four hour program in the
morning, of which two are devoted to multicultivos. You
can imagine the preparation we are putting into that.
As far as projects go, we have a total of 2.2
manzanas (about 1.54 hectares or about 4 acres) in
multicultivo experiments and 4 manzanas (1 acres) in

sugarcane. In multicultivos we have 3 tareas in a fertilizer
experiment. In addition, we have over 2 tareas in an
experiment jointly with Plant Pathology and the Bean
Department to study spacing in the double com rows and
nearly 6 tareas in a joint project with the Weed Control
Program. To help support this work, we just received a
one-ton donation of fertilizer from FERTICA and a
substantial amount of chemicals from Bayer. CENTA, of
course, is furnishing most of the chemicals, the land and
the labor.
This is not to deny that we have problems. Of the
3 cars that we have in the department (1 from CENTA and 2
from AID ~ now donated to the Ministry) the two donations
from AID are presently in the shop. One has transmission
problems and the motor is torn down on the other.
Requisitions for equipment are very slow coming in and we
even have trouble getting paper and pencils. CENTA still has
not named a departmental secretary and my part-time
bilingual is 8 months pregnant (with no budget to hire
another). Our regional trials have just about gone by the
boards. I was hoping to finance them largely out of the two
NCSU projects ~ specifically, I had hoped to get two more
vehicles and gasoline and repairs for them to allow us to
travel in the regions. Under the present conditions we have
had to shift the farm projects to extension so we are losing a
valuable source of information (for an ag-econ department).
But even with these problems, it is incorrect to say
that the program is stagnant and that we are just putting our

Notwithstanding all the interest, enthusiasm and support the
Agricultural Economics Department and the Multicultivos Program
was receiving from ENA, CENTA, the Ministry of Agriculture,
large and small farmers, and private industry, there was apparently
some dissatisfaction from the other UF team members and the
Chief of Party that they were not being more included in these
activities. I quote part of the letter from Mason Marvel to me,
responding to my letter above:

. We realize that you have had far more support from CENTA
and other sources for your projects than the others have and this
is good in one way and a source of concern in another. We
would hope in the future that there would be a more coordinated
approach to meeting the objectives and that it would become a
team effort.
... As I have discussed with you in the past, we would not want
to dilute or detract from the excellent work you are doing but we
do feel that a stronger and more objective program can be
developed if everyone who is capable of making an input is
being utilized to the fullest with a University of Florida team

It was my feeling that I had a full platter and did not have
time to help other UF team members get their programs moving (I
was not chief of party!). This could only have slowed down what
we were doing in Agricultural Economics. The other members
were also professionals and had the same opportunities I had to
make progress.
Finishing the work
In September, as my time in El Salvador was drawing to a
close, both UF and the AID Mission asked me if I wouldn't change
my mind and stay on for another tour. In fact, the AID Mission
Director, asked me if I would stay and become Chief of Party. I
think in the end, they began to realize how much we in
Agricultural Economics had accomplished in such a short period of
time and were afraid the momentum could not be kept up. In a
letter to Hugh Popenoe, Director of International Programs, IF AS,
at UF, Ed Anderson wrote:

... In addition, the Mission wishes to assure itself that upon the
departure of Dr. Hildebrand, there will be an immediate
replacement in the area of multiple cropping and farm
management. It is requested that you send us the names of
candidates to replace Dr. Hildebrand as rapidly a possible. We
also would like to have ample opportunity to review candidates for
the position of Chief of Party to replace Dr. Gull on his departure
next June. We believe that some overlap in these positions is

essential, and that an immediate replacement for Dr. Hildebrand is
our top priority.

I had suggested that Tito French be retained to serve as a
consultant in multicultivos because the new UF team members who
were going to be continuing the work with the program had little
background knowledge about what we had been doing and why.
However, Pat and Tito returned to New Mexico State after their
Peace Corps tour and Tito finished his M.S. thesis based on the
multiple cropping projects. In order to provide some continuity,
ICTA and The Rockefeller Foundation agreed that I would be able
to spend several days each month in El Salvador for a few months
until the new team members felt familiar enough with the program
to work alone.
In retrospect
Overall, I think Tito and I had helped create an admirable
program in El Salvador. Multicultivos was one of the major
programs in CENTA and was the first effort aimed specifically at
small-scale farmers, using more of what they had available to them
(primarily family labor) and intensifying use of the country's most
scarce resource (land available to small farmers). People all over
El Salvador were very enthusiastic about the potential it offered,
both for productively employing people in the countryside to keep
them from migrating to the cities, and for increasing production,
particularly of vegetables to substitute for those being imported
without decreasing the amount of corn and beans the small
farmers currently were able to raise. Our most important system
required irrigation and was designed for the Zapotitan valley and
other irrigated areas. But we had also designed a system for
rainfed areas where there was no irrigation and, of course, was the
largest area in the country.
Extension had been integrated into the project and several
hundred on-farm trials were being planned for the 1975 cropping
season. In 1976, about two years after I had left, there were 596
on-farm demonstration-trials throughout the country.
Unfortunately, most of these trials were placed on farms that were
larger than for what the system had been designed. Only three

percent of the farms in the evaluation sample were one hectare or
smaller (Walker and Quarles, 1977). It was no wonder that
farmers complained that the double rows with intercropping
"negated the utilization of the farmers' oxen in hilling up maize"
and that the demand for labor was perceived by many farmers to be
excessive (p. 46). The system, as it had been developed, fully
employed a family on only 0.3 ha (3/4 acre) if they had irrigation.
Farmers of this size rarely, if ever, had oxen. Yet 38%) of the
sample farmers in 1976 had 5 or more hectares of land, and
farmers of this size commonly do have oxen. These farmers could
see little advantage in the system because they could not use their
oxen. Some two-thirds of the sampled farmers hired more than
half of their labor requirements (p. 67)! Walker and Quarles
seemed surprised that 90%) of the farmers thought the system was
more labor intensive than their current system. Multicultivos was
designed specifically to productively use more labor on the many
very small farms of El Salvador. In the waning months of 1974,
Tito and I had tried to wam the UF team replacing us, and
Extension, that they needed to extend and test the technology on
the smallest farms or this would happen, but our concerns were not
heeded. It should be mentioned in closing this part of the
discussion that Walker and Quarles did finally recognize that the
Extension Service might not have been working with the
appropriate target group in the placement of their trials (p. 76).
It could be argued, I suppose, that the kind of program we
in Agricultural Economics had created, using outside resources
especially for transportation, was not sustainable with only
Salvadoran resources. While we did a lot of work on the station
(actually the grounds of ENA), once we had the basic idea
established, we recognized that additional research work needed to
be done on the farms of the people who were going to be using the
system. This, of course, required transportation. Within CENTA
there was plenty of transportation available, but as with most
institutions like it, most was allocated to work only on the station.
Work with farmers was considered extra (above and beyond
station research) and thus required extra resources. If it had been
considered an integral part of the research process, and existing

resources reallocated, there would have been adequate
transportation and other resources to continue the multicultivos
It was also interesting that USAID shifted its old vehicles,
their maintenance, and gasoline consumption to CENTA just as
these vehicles were wearing out and the price of petroleum
skyrocketed. While it is standard procedure for AID equipment
eventually to be transferred to the host country, this was
unfortunate timing to say the least.
Whether or not the Agricultural Economics Department
should have become involved in multicultivos to begin with is
another interesting controversy. This occurred, in part, because I
was able to find resources that I otherwise would not have had by
working with the Horticulture Department at ENA. Also, with my
increasing involvement with farmers while with ICA in Colombia,
particularly the two years at Palmira, I felt strongly that an
Agricultural Economics Department in an agricultural research and
extension organization in a country like El Salvador should be
oriented toward helping the institute deliver useful technology to
farmers, particularly the small, limited resource farmers. The
emphasis should not be on publications and economic studies,
although this certainly could be part of the program when there
were appropriate people in the department to do it. The mission of
CENTA was to develop and deliver technology to the farmers of
the country (and in the case of ENA which became part of
CENTA) to educate a technical level agricultural professional to
help do this.
Combining forces with the Peace Corps in the person of
Tito French was a fortuitous event that also helped to focus our
efforts. He represented an available and invaluable resource in a
situation where most resources were scarce to nonexistent. His
interest in vegetables fit in well with the other resources we had
managed to access. An additional fortuitous event was the visit in
El Salvador of Richard Bradfield from IRRI and the budding
interest in multiple cropping that he and CATIE in Costa Rica had.
Bradfield arrived just after we had planted our first twin rows of
maize. Tito had the idea of using maize stalks as tripods to serve

as stakes for tomatoes which we were experimenting with. We had
left enough room between the rows of maize to work the tomatoes.
It was a natural to begin interplanting this space with fast growing
crops like radishes and beans. Alexander Aguiluz, Head of
Horticulture at ENA, Tito and I made a pretty good team as we
began to design a multiple cropping system for the conditions of El
Salvador. It had to do what the government wanted and to use
resources farmers would have available to them. It required a
combination of biophysical and socioeconomic considerations to
design such a system. I still think this is a very natural and useful
function for an agricultural economics department to perform.
Until July 1974, I was the only agricultural economist in
the department. At that time, Adrian Chacon, with an M.S. degree
in agricultural economics was named head of the department,
giving us two ag economists. Nevertheless, we had an excellent
record-keeping project underway and this was beginning to
provide data that would be needed when more traditional
agricultural economics studies would be undertaken. We also, of
course, turned out an agricultural economics M.S. thesis by David
Zimet based on a linear program of the system in the Zapotitan
All of these activities were what attracted ICTA in
Guatemala who was looking for a social scientist who could work
with the biophysical scientists in the institute to develop and
deliver technology to the small and medium farmers of that
After I began working for ICTA in October 1974, I did
make several trips back to El Salvador to help in the transition to a
new UF team. At first these were for a day or two each two weeks,
meeting in El Salvador. Later, we began meeting at the frontier
between the two countries so I would not have to cross and recross
the border so often. There was a restaurant right on the border that
was sort of in no-man's land between the two countries' customs
and immigration posts where we could go without actually leaving
our own countries. It was very convenient to meet there because it
was a relatively short drive for both groups.

On one of these meetings, the group from El Salvador
(both Americans and Salvadorans) decided they would like to see
our on-farm research that was about an hour inside Guatemala.
None of them had brought passports, but I had (I usually did when
I went to these meetings in no-man's land). I went to the
immigration people in Guatemala and told them I would like to
take the group into the country for about four hours. They knew
me quite well by this time and decided that if I left my passport
with them and they took the names of everyone entering the
country, that it would be OK. So they all came into Guatemala and
got into the back of my pickup to go see the trial. We were using
the double row idea and it was working very well, even though it
was in a very dry part of Guatemala and we did not have irrigation.
When we got back to the Guatemalan border the Guatemalan
border agents counted everyone who headed to the Salvadoran side
and then gave me back my passport.
One of ICTA's Rural Socioeconomic on-farm trials in Guatemala
In August, 1977, three years after I had left El Salvador,
Ken McDermott, who had been my one-time boss in the embassy
in Bogota, made an input for the annual evaluation of the USAID
multiple cropping project being implemented through a grant to
CENTA in the form of a contract with the University of Florida.
(JKM Trip Report, Sept. 16, 1977) It is worthy of note that none
of the persons he contacted at that time had been involved in the
original development process of the multicultivos program. He
said that he could discover no evidence that multiple cropping had
had a significant impact in the country. This, notwithstanding that
the program emphasis of the UF contract during 1975-76 was on
Multiple Cropping (UF 10-year Review). One of the major

obstacles Ken stated was that the program was emphasizing
"modern biological and chemical technology surrounding those
commodities at the expense of giving adequate attention to the
farmer and to economic technology (and perhaps other social
factors)." The program had shifted to an agronomic orientation,
testing new varieties in the system and testing herbicides to reduce
labor needs (the exact opposite of what we had been trying to do).
As Ken pointed out in his report, "The central rationale for work in
multiple cropping, or any intensive production system, is to enable
farmers to sell more labor." While we were using both chemical
fertilizer and insecticides on the system, we had conducted a
fertilizer use trial to search for more effective levels, not those that
maximized yield. But both fertilizers and insecticides were widely
available and widely used at that time in El Salvador and we did
not consider that this was a constraint on the small farmers.
Certainly land was a constraint on the very small farms, and at
least mostly, labor was not.
One of Ken's recommendations included: "... to re-design
the project so that it is oriented in large part to the farmer, his
needs, his current technology, and his resource endowment rather
than simply to the criteria of good crop technology. This action
will require greater reliance on agricultural economists and perhaps
a strengthening of that department."
A year later, a large team from the University of Florida
evaluated "Ten Years of Technical Assistance in Agriculture" ~ A
review of the CENTA/UFLA/IAD/El Salvador Contract (Eno et al.
1978). While stating that the contract objectives had changed
somewhat over ten years, the general purpose during this time had
been "to assist CENTA 'to bring higher incomes and living
standards for small and medium farmers in El Salvador.' Primary
emphasis of late has been on small farmers through assistance with
multiple cropping systems research and extension."
There are undoubtedly many views on the successes and
failures of the UF contract in El Salvador and of the multiple
cropping program, itself During the approximately four months of
total time I worked directly with AID and the Ministry on the
CENTA loan and sector analysis, I had very adequate support from
AID. This was not the case, however, during the rest of the time
when I was doing what I had been hired to do ~ work with
CENTA and the farmers of the country to increase production and
income. During my two years in El Salvador we created, literally
from nothing, a national program that had very wide support from
all sectors of the economy, and that became one of the major
programs of CENTA and a primary focus of the UF/USAID
contract in following years. That the focus of this multiple
cropping program shifted from that of the small farmers to that of

traditional agronomy was influenced in large part by the shift to
technical assistance personnel with strong disciplinary (as opposed
to multidisciplinary) backgrounds. It was also due to tight budgets
in the Salvadoran government, and the departure of virtually
everyone who had been involved with the creation of the program.
This is an unfortunate panorama of too many technical
assistance projects. It was also very unfortunate that after we left,
the bulk of the on-farm trials were conducted on farms much larger
than those for which the system was designed. Overall results of
those trials discouraged further development of the system.
Shortly after I left El Salvador, Adrian Chacon who had replaced
me as Head of Agricultural Economics, was transferred to the
Agricultural Economics unit of the Ministry and replaced by a
person who had failed to finish an M.S. degree at New Mexico
State and who knew nothing about the program. On one of my
trips to El Salvador I talked with the Minister of Agriculture (Ing.
Mauricio Eladio Castillo) and the head of his Agricultural
Economics unit (Ing. Rene Aguilar Giron) and they agreed to let
Adrian return to CENTA.
Several years later, after I was a professor at UF, I had a
Salvadoran graduate student who wanted to evaluate the
multicultivos project and its current impact on small farmers. This
also followed the civil war that had raged in El Salvador for
several years. Because of the civil war, he was able to find only
one of the many farmers who we had been involved in on-farm
trials and he was still using the system. All of the others had either
been killed or fied to other parts of the country or to other
countries so there was no remaining knowledge of the multicultivo

Publications from El Salvador
Andrew, CO. and P.E. Hildebrand. 1972. Planificacion y ejecucion de
investigacion aplicada. Departamento de Administracion Agricola. Direccion
General de Economia Agricola y Planificacion. Ministerio de Agricultura y
Ganaderia. San Salvador, El Salvador

Hildebrand, P.E. 1972. Analisis agroeconomicos mediante superficies de
respuesta. Departamento de Administracion Agricola. Direccion General de
Economia Agricola y Planificacion. Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia.
San Salvador, El Salvador.

Hildebrand, P.E. 1974. Analisis economico de fertilizacion de cafia de aziicar.
Departamento de Economia Agricola. Centro Nacional de Tecnologia
Agrocuaria, (CENTA). Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia. San Salvador,
El Salvador. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFooo7.'s673/ooooi

Hildebrand, P.E. and E.C. French. 1974. Produccion de pepinos utilizando
tallos de maiz. Departamento de Economia Agricola, Centro Nacional de
Tecnologia Agropecuaria (CENTA). Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia,
San Salvador, El Salvador.

Hildebrand, P.E. and E.C. French. 1974. tJn sistema salvadoreiio de
multicultivos. Departamento de Economia Agricola. Centro Nacional de
Tecnologia Agropecuaria (CENTA). Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia.
San Salvador, El Salvador.

Hildebrand, P.E., E.C. French, M.A. Barahona, A.E. Chacon, and J. Biber. 1975
Manual para la siembra de multicultivos. Departamento de Economia Agricola,
Centro Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria (CENTA). Ministerio de
Agricultura y Ganaderia. San Salvador, El Salvador.

Zimet, David J., C. O. Andrew and P.E. Hildebrand. 1976. The economic
potential for increasing vegetable production in the Zapotitan District, El
Salvador. Economics Report 78. Food and Resource Economics Department,
tJniversity of Florida.

Eno, Charles et al. 1978. Ten years of technical assistance in agriculture: A
review of the CENTA/UFLA/AID/El Salvador contract.

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