P FARMING SYSTEMS
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
IN SRI LANKA
Ministry of Agricultural Development and I Research
Department of Agriculture N Division of Agricultural Economics and
USAID Diversified Agricultural Research Project
Ahungafla Sri Lanka
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH
Department of Agriculture
Division of Agricultural Economics and Projects
PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP ON
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
IN SRI LANKA
September 17-20, 1986
USAID Diversified Agricultural Research Project
Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
PJUN7IJD 47. K(ANDY 0T7SE7 PitN7CRS 09. NO. 94 7, PLRAD&6NIYA ROAD, KANDY. SRI LANKA.
CONTENTS OF PROCEEDINGS
Table of Content i
Executive Summary 1
1. Background to the Workshop 4
a. Objectives of the Workshop
b. Workshop Participants
c. Contents of the Workshop
d. Contents of the Proceedings
2. Summary of Working Group Recommendations 6
3. Themes Emerging from the Papers Presented
at the Workshop 12
a. Concepts and Methods in FSR/E
b. Approaches to Farming Systems Research and
Extension at the Regional Research Centers
c. Examples of FSR/E Activities Being Undertaken
at the Regional Research Centers
Working Group Recommendations (prepared by participants) 19
1. Concepts of FSR/E to be Used in Sri Lanka 19
2. Constraints to the Use of FSR/E Approach in
Sri Lanka. 23
3. Consideration of Farmers' and Market Needs
and Opportunities in the FSR/E Approach to
Technology Development 31
4. Provisions within the FSR/E Approach for the
Acceptance and Easy Transfer of Technology at
the Farm Level. 36
5. Recommendations for Future Institutional
Arrangements and Training Activities Associated
with FSR/E 40
Papers Presented at the Workshop
1. Concepts and Method in Farming Systems Research 43
a. Morris, R. A. Farming Systems Approach to
Research and Extension: General Concepts
and Methods. 43
b. Upasena, S.H. The Evolution of the Farming
Systems Program in Sri Lanka. 52
c. Sikurajapathy, M. Coordination and Functioning
of the Cropping Systems Program in Sri Lanka. 62
2. Farming Systems Research at the Regional Research
a. Gunatilaka, G.A. Farming System Approach
to Research and Extension in the Low Country
Wet Zone of Sri Lanka. 69
b. Fernando, M.H.J.P. Some Background Information
for Farming Systems Research in the Mid-country
Wet Zone of Sri Lanka. 73
c. Raphael, B.S., H. Somapala and H. Amarasena.
Farming Systems Approach to Research and Extension at Makandura Regional Research
Center: Concept and Practical Use. 83
d. Kandasamy, S. Farming Systems Approach to
Research and Extension Activities in the
Eastern Region with Special Emphasis on the
Batticaloa District. 88
e. Emerson, B.N. Farming Systems Approach to
Research and Extension in the Northern Region
of Sri Lanka. 95
f. Sikurajapathy, M. Systems Approach to Research
and Extension in Sri Lanka: Conceptual
and Practical Evolution. The Walagambahuwa
and Katupota Experience. 101
g. Handawela, J. Farming Systems Research Activities
at Angunakolapelessa Regional Research Center. 116
h. Amarasiri, S.L. Some Aspects of Farming Systems
Research in the Bandarawela Region. 118
i. Upasena, S.H. Cropping Systems Activities and
Future Research Strategies of the Regional
Research Center at Girandurukotte and
3. Some Examples of Farming Systems Research Being Undertaken at Regional Research Centers in Sri Lanka 124
a. Dissanayake, L.D., A. Palamakumbura,
K.P.U. de Silva and K.D.S.M. Joseph. Some
Thoughts, Some Attempts, and Some Findings on
the Problems of Small Mid-country Farmers Using
Farming Systems Research/Extension Approach
and Methodology. 124
b. Abeysinghe, A. An Evaluation of Farming
(Cropping) Systems Approach Practised in the Up
Country Intermediate Zone. 145
c. Senthinathan, A. Cropping Systems Research in
the Rainfed Rice Lands of the Northern Region. 155
d. Jayasekera, S.J.B.A. Farming Systems Approach
in Identifying Grain Legume Varieties for the
Dry and Intermediate Zones of Sri Lanka. 163
e. Jayawardena, S.N. Progress Report on Cropping
Systems Research under Irrigation in the Mahaweli
Development Project in Sri Lanka. 172
f. Handawela, J. Upland Rainfed Farming on a
Continuous Basis: An Alternative to Shifting
g. Raphael, B.S. and H. Somapala. Multiple
Cropping with Perennial Upland Crops. 186
Annexes (background papers prepared for the workshop) 191
1. List of Participants and Working Group Composition 191
2. Results of Evaluation Questionnaire 193
3. Purposes, Procedures and Programme for the Workshop 200
4. Guidelines for Papers 211
5. Guidelines for Working Groups 219
The Farming Systems Research/Extension (FSR/E) approach
implies a continuous adjustment of the ends and means of research and extension to the conditions and goals of agricultural production and marketing at farm level. These adjustments are also preconditions for easier management and more effective and efficient use of the resources available for research and extension in meeting their mandate.
The advantages of the FSR/E approach and the fact that the Department of Agriculture (DOA) has applied its principles, justified a workshop to review past achievements and problems, establish a consensus on the current status of FSR/E in Sri Lanka, and to recommend appropriate action for future use.
Invited to participate in the workshop were the Directors of the Divisions within the DOA and of the Regional Research Centers, and DOA personnel representing Research, Economics and Extension. Papers on the concept of FSR/E, its application and results in Sri Lanka were discussed. Participants were organized into five working groups, each responsible for directing plenary discussions and recording recommendations based on key issues.
These proceedings include the invited papers presented at the workshop, reports of research based on the FSR/E approach, and recommendations of the five working groups. It is expected that these will generate further ideas, suggestions and propositions toward integration of FSR/E into the activities of the DOA.
The organization and implementation of the workshop and the preparation of these Proceedings were the responsibility of the Diversified Agricultural Research Project. The project is funded under a loan/grant from the United States' Agency for International Development. The workshop was held September 1720, 1986 at the Triton Hotel, Ahungalla, Sri.Lnka.
Director of Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
The valuable contributions to the conceptualization and
organization of the workshop by Dr. Marvin Sikurajapathy, Deputy Director of Research (DDR), Maha Illuppallama Regional Research Center (RRC), Dr. S.H. Upasena, DDR, Girandurokotte RRC and Dr. James Handawela, DDR, Angunakolapelessa RRC are gratefully acknowledged.
The guidance and logistical support provided by the Division of Agricultural Economics and Projects during the organization and implementation of the workshop are also acknowledged. The personal contributions of Dr. Edward Suraweera, Acting Deputy Director and Mr. J.A.T.P. Gunawardene, Economist, are greatly appreciated.
The organization, implementation of the workshop and the
preparation of these proceedings fulfilled a commitment of the Diversified Agricultural Research Project (DARP). They were directed by Dr. Luis A. Navarro, Production and Marketing Economist, DARP. Assistance in coordinating the workshop and in preparing and editing the proceedings was provided by Dr. Gladys Nott, Socio-economist (Consultant). Most of the English editing was done by Mrs. Verla Selleck. Mrs. Anomi Wickremasuriya and Mrs. Roshani Pieris provided the art work and secretarial services, respectively.
Dr. G. W. Selleck
Chief of Party
BACKGROUND TO THE WORKSHOP
The objectives of the Workshop on Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) were to provide a forum for the exchange of information on the current status and activities of FSR/E in Sri Lanka, and to generate recommendations regarding the future promotion of the FSR/E approach in the country. The Workshop was organized by the Diversified Agricultural Research Project, funded by the United States' Agency for International Development and the Government of Sri Lanka. The organization of the workshop falls within the project's mandate to support the use of multidisciplinary systems methods in research and extension.
Researchers from the Regional Research Centers (RRCs) as well as agricultural administrators, economists, trainers and extension workers -- people who are likely to influence the future implementation of FSR/E activities within the Department of Agriculture -- were invited to attend.
Papers were presented in three sessions covering: 1) general concepts of FSR/E and the development of a systems approach to agricultural research in Sri Lanka, 2) the general approach to FSR/E at the RRCs, and 3) specific examples of the use of the approach in research undertaken at the RRCs. After the papers were presented the participants, divided into five working groups, prepared statements containing guiding principles for the future implementation of FSR/E in Sri Lanka.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE WORKSHOP
The participants reaffirmed the relevance of farming systems research and extension to agricultural development in Sri Lanka. They made the following observations and recommendations for strenghthening national FSR/E activities in the future:
Definition of Farming Systems Research and Extension(FSR/E)
FSR/E was defined as a method of organizing several
disciplines and support services to undertake a research project with the aim of increasing resource productivity. This aim is to be achieved by employing technical innovations which are acceptable to farmers who are managing land within a target area in an ecological zone. Using this approach, agricultural development workers maintain a perspective which keeps the entire farm system in view, even if the technologies being developed are focused on only a portion of the system. In addition to its systems perspective the distinguishing features in this approach
are its emphasis on interdisciplinary team work, interinstitutional coordination, farmer consultation and on-farm research as integral parts of research methodology.
Role and Organizational Implications of FSR/E
FSR/E is seen as one of a number of tools to be used in
research and extension. Its implementation does not presuppose major administrative restructuring. The continuing importance of technology development on research stations, as a basis for onfarm development was confirmed.
1. High level political and administrative support is needed for the team work and field activities which are
essential for effective FSR/E. Official backing is needed for officers to work across disciplinary, departmental and institutional boundaries. This backing needs to take the
form not only of explioit encouragement, but also of
appropriate allocation of duties and responsibilities. Past problems in this area have reduced the effective involvement
of agricultural economists and Extension Off icef from
within the Department of Agriculture, as well as of officers
from other relevant institutions such as the Department of Minor Export Crops and the Department of Animal Production
2. Continuity in support for FSR/E is needed, particularly in budgetary provisions which facilitate, group work (e.g. by
adequately covering travel and field expenses and by
encouraging joint use of resources by officers who come from
different administrative units).
3. It was considered important to develop programs which make effective use of national resources, and rely less on
outside support for their implementation.
4. A National Coordinating Committee nominated by the Director of Agriculture and Regional Action Committees
should be formed to develop FSR/E programs. These
committees will be responsible for determining research priorities, developing research programs, coordinating resource allocation, monitoring and evaluating research activities, and promoting better communication regarding
all aspects of FSR/E implementation.
5. Training of all participants involved in FS methods and
mode of operation of FSR/E needs to be improved. The
Education and Training Division of the Department of
Agriculture needs to have its training capability in this
6. A regular program of information exchange and publicity regarding the results of FSR/E activities needs to be established.
7. Policies affecting land tenure and eligibility for institutional credit need to be adjusted to encourage farmer adoption of FSR/E recommendations which may include mixed crops, resource conservation measures and the planting of crops which yield benefits only after the passage of more than one or two seasons.
1. BACKGROUND TO THE WORKSHOP
The Diversified Agricultural Research Project (DARP), funded by the United States' Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Agriculture (BOA), has a mandate to support the use of multidisciplinary systems methods in research and extension with the aim of improving the effectiveness and impact of the research work being undertaken in Sri Lanka. In the past decade a systems approach to research and extension, which takes into 'ccount the complex interactions influencing the achievement of national agricultural development objectives, has been increasingly accepted in Sri Lanka.
In keeping with the project mandate, and recognizing the previous experience in the use of a systems approach to agricultural research which exists in Sri Lanka, the DARP staff organized a workshop with the following objectives:
to provide a forum for the exchange of information on
the current status and activities in Farming Systems
Research and Extension (FSR/E) in Sri Lanka.
to give direction regarding the future approach to
advancing FSR/E in Sri Lanka.
to initiate discussion regarding the contribution that
DARP can make to FSR/E in Sri Lanka.
In order to ascertain the current thinking and activities in the field of FSR/E in Sri Lanka papers were invited from researchers working at the country's nine Regional Research Centers (RRC). Most of these RRCs were established in the last 5-7 years with the purpose of promoting the development of improved technologies specifically adapted to the diverse farming environments found in the different regions of the country. These centers have been the focal points for the development of a systems approach to agricultural research in Sri Lanka.
In addition to these researchers, participants were invited from among the agricultural administrators, economists, trainers and extension workers who are most likely to influence the future implementation of FSR/E activities within the DOA in Sri Lanka.
Contents of the Workshop
The workshop included four parts. During the first part three keynote speakers discussed the concepts associated with FSR/E and the background to the use of the systems approach to agricultural research in Sri Lanka. Papers were presented by
Dr. R.A. Morris, Agronomist, DAEP, and by two pioneers of cropping systems research in Sri Lanka: Dr. S.H. Upasena (Deputy' Director [Research]* Girandurukotte RRC), and Dr. M. Sikurajapathy (Deputy Director [Research], Maha Illupallama RRC). This *introductory session was followed by two sessions of papers from the Regional Research Centers. First the Deputy Director (Research) for each Center was invited to present a general statement regarding the approach he and his staff have adopted in the application of systems concepts to research in their region. In a subsequent session representatives of each Center were invited to present a specific example of research which demonstrated how these concepts had been used to address farming needs in their region.
For the last part of the workshop the participants were divided into five working groups each assigned to address a different issue of relevance to the future implementation of FSR/E in Sri Lanka. Drawing on the previous three sessions, and their own experience, each group prepared a written statement reflecting the views of -all participants with regard to their particular topic. These statements provide a useful integration of current thinking in the DOA regarding the past constraints, present status, and future directions which FSR/E should take in Sri Lanka.
Contents of the Proceedings
Given the anticipated level of knowledge and experience
among the workshop participants, the organizers' primary role was as providers of a forum for communication -- keeping their own intervention to a minimum. In keeping with this approach, the working group statements and the papers submitted to the workshop
-are presented here in full. The editing has been kept to a minimum.
The remainder of this chapter contains an introductory
interpretive synopsis, prepared by the organizers, of the working group statements and the papers which are included in these proceedings.
The program and guidelines used in the workshop, a list of participants, and a report of the results of a workshop evaluation questionnaire completed by the participants, are included as annexes to these proceedings.
2. SUMMARY OF WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS
Each of the five working groups formed during the workshop prepared a report containing specific conclusions and recommendations which reflect the consensus of the participants regarding one of five different issues related to the application of FSR/E in Sri Lanka. These issues were: a) concepts of FSR/E to be used in Sri Lanka; b) past constraints experienced in the use of the FSR/E approach in Sri Lanka and ways to overcome them; c) incorporation of farmers' and market needs within the FSR/E approach to technology development; d) measures to ensure that the technology resulting from the FSR/E approach are acceptable and easily transferred to the farmers; and e) recommendations for improved institutional arrangements including resource allocation, training, organization and inter-departmental collaboration.
In their statements all five working groups acknowledged the value and relevance of the FS approach to research and extension in Sri Lanka. Relating this to recommendations for DARP, the participants suggested that the Project should play a catalytic role. In particular, the value of DARP assistance for training of personnel involved in the FSR/E activities was highlighted. Regarding the identification of a Technical Advisory Group to advise and monitor the FSR/E activities under DARP, the participants considered the selection of its members to be the responsibility of the Director of Agriculture and the Deputy Directors in charge of the different divisions.
Although a detailed program for future FSR/E activities was not developed at the Workshop, a timetable for establishing an organizational structure to support FSR/E was suggested in one of the group reports.
In addition to the conclusions summarized above, the groups provided recommendations for improving national implementation and performance of FSR/E. Their recommendations have been summarized under the following headings: definition and objectives for the approach, methodology, and conditions for effective implementation including resource allocation and training, organization, communication/extension, and other topics.
Definition of Farming.Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E)
FSR/E was defined as a method of organizing several
disciplines and support services to undertake an agricultural research project directed to increasing resource productivity, by employing technical innovations which are acceptable to farmers within a target area.
Objectives for the FSR/E
The goals of FSR/E are to enhance farmers' production and income opportunities, allowing them to improve their living conditions and their contribution to the national economy and development.
A central element in the approach is the establishment of effective interaction and collaboration among agencies working toward common agricultural goals.
Another strategic element is the identification and study of existing farming systems and farmer objectives within a target area. The objectives of this study are to ascertain the advantages, limitations and opportunities for technical improvement which exist within these farming systems, taking into account their physical, biological, economic and social determinants.
The following results are expected when these elements are combined in Farming Systems Research:
a) Improved feed back to researchers from the final
b) Research information and technologies which are more
relevant to the needs of farmers and therefore more
likely to be adopted in the target area.
c) Increased yields at farm level which approach
d) Improved utilization of research resources at the RRCs.
The participants accepted the value of the four steps which are commonly a part of the Farming Systems Research methodology. These steps are: diagnosis, design, testing and dissemination. In considering these steps, the participants drew special attention to the first step. Careful diagnosis will make it possible to establish research priorities which are consistent not only with research goals but also with the constraints and opportunities for technical improvement present in the target farming system. During the diagnosis, the social and economic determinants should be considered to be as important as the physical, climatic and biological determinants and the technical performance of the farming system.
The use of secondary information and quick informal or
formal methods to obtain the information necessary for research program design were 'favored. The quick identification and extension of available and obviously appropriate recommendations whenever possible, was also favored.
The value of baseline surveys was acknowledged. However, the completion of such surveys should not constitute a precondition for continuing FSR/E work in a target area. Once the survey results are obtained,, they can be related to previously available information and used to reinforce or adjust the research design.
The importance of a team effort combining several
disciplines and involving the early and continuing participation of the beneficiary farmers was emphasized. The use of regular "field-clinics" was recommended as a way of checking preliminary results with farmers at the conclusion of each research step and prior to going on to the next one. "Field-clinics" are meetings of participant farmers, extensionists and researchers in a field team with the purpose of reaching a clear and,-ebmmon perception of the production problems or the consequences of technological innovations proposed for the target area.
This general methodology, including as it does the
interdisciplinary effort of a team in continuing contact with the beneficiary farmers, will make it possible to incorporate farmers'and market needs and opportunities more effectively into the research process. It will also enhance the relevance, and acceptability, of research results; thus facilitating their transfer and adoption at farm level, and consequently improving the efficiency of the whole effort.
Several constraints on resources, know-how among personnel and organization of research were anticipated in the future implementation of an FSR/E program. To overcome these constraints adjustments were recommended in the program and procedures to make them fit the existing organization and resource endowment of the institutions involved. These adjustments should minimize extraordinary costs and organizational changes. The enhancement of the existing Cropping-Systems or Adaptive-Research activities which are already controlled by Regional Technical Working Groups was suggested as a point of departure for an FSR/E program.
Specific recommendations for the DOA include:
Resource Allocation and Training
a) Support to the FSR/E program should have continuity and
demonstrate a long term commitment to its application.
This commitment should be reflected in the allocation
of funds -for recurrent operational expenses, field
personnel and transportation -- particularly fuel and
b) Program activities should be carefully planned and
budgeted to assure the timely availability of the funds
required each season.
c) Streamlined and uniform policies and procedures for the
training of personnel should be established.
d) The training of personnel at all levels in the FSR/E
approach should be intensified. It should utilize
existing opportunities, locally and abroad, and junior personnel should be assigned to work with experienced
e) Training in soil and water management, principles of
farming systems, research and extension
methodologies, socio-economics, agronomy, group interaction and training of trainers were given
f) The training capability in FSR/E of the DOA's Training
and Education Division should be strengthened.
Although no significant organizational changes were recommended, the importance of high level commitment to FSR/E and better inter-institutional communication was emphasized.
As a specific measure to achieve improved coordination between departments and agencies, the identification of national and regional committees was suggested. These committees would guide, monitor and facilitate the activities of multidisciplinary field teams. Because of their composition, these committees would also encourage, facilitate and support the communication, interaction and collaboration among divisions of the DOA and between agricultural agencies.
A National Coordinating Committee would coordinate all FSR/E program activities, promote coordination and collaboration between departments and agencies, decide on policy matters and resource allocation, including funds from different sources and evaluate program progress. There were two suggestions for the composition of this committee: 1) Director of Agriculture (Chairman), all Deputy Directors of Divisions, the Chief accountant and a DARP representative, 2) Members nominated by the Director of Agriculture, selected from among the Deputy Directors of Divisions, the Chief Accountant and DARP, to include representatives from the Regional Action Committees.
A Regional Action Committee, guided by the policies
developed by the National Coordinating Committee, would help
to identify, formulate and support the implementation of FSR/E projects in the region and monitor and evaluate their progress. There were also two suggestions for the composition of this group: 1) Regional Deputy Director for Research (Chairman), Research Officers assigned to coordinate FSR/E activities, Assistant Director of Agriculture (ADA) Extension from the project areas, ADA Seeds, ADA Training, Regional Agricultural Economist and representatives from other agencies in the region; 2) the present Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG).
Field Team and Operation
Separate recommendations were made covering the composition and leadership of the field teams; their selection, planning and approval of activities; monitoring and evaluation of activities; and the review and communication of results.
Field teams should be multidisciplinary. The minimum composition suggested includes an agronomist/soil scientist, an economist, an extension officer and other specialists as needed. It was also suggested that a researcher member of the team could usually, but not always, lead this team. An alternative suggestion identified a team at the segment level to be composed of: at least one Research Officer assigned to FSR/E, an economist, the Subject Matter Officers of the segment, the Agricultural Instrudtor, the Village Level Extension Workers, other agency representatives and a farmers representative. The Agricultural Officer, representing the ADA, would act as "convener" for 'the team. In either case, the leadership of the team is responsible for ensuring effective communication among all participants and guiding the identification of tasks and assignment of clearly demarcated responsibilities to team members.
The team would identify and select target areas, farmers and research priorities with the support and guidance of the regional and national committees. The Director of Agriculture would be the officer finally responsible for the FSR/E program and he would study and decide on the approval of the activities planned and their funding, with the cooperation of the national coordinating committee.
Continuous monitoring and evaluation of field
activities was considered important. This responsibility was assigned to the regional action committee guided by the policies outlined by the national coordinating committee. It was suggested that the RTWG should appoint a team to undertake field level monitoring tours. Seasonal progress reports were also considered necessary for the purposes Of monitoring and evaluation.
Continuous efforts to communic te progress and results, particularly to farmers, were considered necessary. The methods recommended include the use of field days and the mass media. Seasonal workshops to review and plan activities at regional level were also considered necessary. A national workshop every 2 years and the preparation of publications for wider audiences were also encouraged. All publications and presentations of results obtained by a field team should give credit to all members.
To further reinforce communication in relation to FSR/E activities, both across divisions and with other agencies and farmers, the following suggestions were also-made: 1) yearly seminar/conferences on the subject; 2) a review of FSR/E activities to be included as part of the RTWG/MonthlyResearch/Extension dialogues; 3) publication in Krushi, Govikan Sangarawa and similar media; 4) utilization of mass media programs, demonstration field-days, group meetings with farmers and discussions with District Agricultural Committees.
It was pointed out that land tenure problems and the lack of support for farmers with unclear land rights can diminish the effectiveness of FSR/E programs. Some regulations for providing institutional support have also, on occasion, limited the wider utilization or adoption of mixed enterprises which offer better benefits to farmers (for example, the unavailability of credit for intercrops).
Recommendations to policy makers included
regularization of encroachers on state lands, protection of tenants' rights on highland farms, and amendment of the Paddy Land Act to permit production of other crops, particularly on marginal rice lands. Institutions supporting agriculture should adjust their regulations so that currently excluded encroachers and tenants are eligible as beneficiaries. The institutions should also ensure that their services provide adequate support to appropriate mixed enterprises.
It was recommended that all relevant agencies should participate in the identification and joint design of "Farming Systems Programs". The objectives of each program and the responsibilities of each agency should be clearly defined. This will provide a common goal and facilitate coordination and collaboration. The incorporation of the District Agricultural Committee and the identification of, other complementary committees were suggested as a means to reinforce coordination and collaboration at grassroots.
3. THEMES EMERGING FROM THE PAPERS PRESENTED AT THE
WORKSHOP ON FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
Concepts and Methods in FSR/E
In his introductory paper Dr. Morris contrasts FSR/E with a "classical reductionist approach". In presenting the contrast he points out that the two approaches are not mutually exclusive. While FSR/E focuses on the way that the components of a farming system interact, the "reductionist approach" concentrates on taking a limited number of components of a system and addressing each one separately. However the "reductionist" examination of component parts is also applied by scientists working within an FSR/E framework. Both methods can benefit from interdisciplinary cooperation, direct contact with the farmer, and testing of recommendations on farmers' fields.
The difference between the two approaches lies in the way
that scientists identify the problem areas to work on, and in the way they develop and evaluate new technologies to assure their easy transfer and adoption. Whereas the tendency of early "reductionists" is to work in relative professional isolation from colleagues in other disciplines and to confine their work to the laboratory and research stations, FSR/E practitioners have made interdisciplinary cooperation, farmer consultation and onfarm research an integral part of their methodology. With FSR/E, even if a particular research activity only addresses certain portions or subsystems of a total farming system, the process of selection, development and dissemination of a new technology is always undertaken with a perspective which anticipates its interactions with the whole system.
Morris points out that both approaches use the scientific method. He illustrates the difference between them by locating them along a continuum where the distinguishing dimension is the number of environmental and management variables which are included within the scope of a research program. At one end of the continuum the reductionist approach recommends solutions to fairly narrowly defined and circumscribed problems such as a particular disease in a particular crop, or fertilizer requirements of a particular crop on a particular soil type. An agronomic problem is commonly defined in biological terms and the recommendation is usually developed without reference to the socio-economic or institutional factors which may influence the farmers' ability to adopt it. At the other end of the spectrum is New Farming Systems (NFS) Research which addresses the entire farming system and may result in recommendations for radical changes in the entire system of land management and social organization. With NFS not only is the entire agro-ecological environment the subject of research and change, but the adoption of those changes frequently requires or implies changes in infrastructure, institutional arrangements and government policy.
Morris locates FSR/E between NFS and the "reductionist" approach. While keeping the entire farming system in view, it does not necessarily aim at a revolutionary change in that system. However, it might require farmers to make major adjustments in some aspect of their present operations. For example, farmers may be asked to adopt a completely new cropping sequence which involves major changes in the timing of operations as.well as the application of new levels and types of inputs. They might also be asked to introduce new enterprises, such as forage crops to contribute to soil fertility as well as to feed livestock. Underlying these recommendations is the explicit intention of increasing the productivity of a limited resource base.
Morris also refers to a fourth approach which lies closer to the "reductionist" approach on the continuum. This is On-Farm Research with a Farming Systems Perspective (OFR/FSP). Under OFR/FSP farmers are asked to make only small modifications to their existing system. For example a new crop may be introduced to their system, either replacing an existing crop or adding a second or third crop to an existing sequence. Under OFR/FSP recommendations are considered in the context of the wider farming system, although major changes to that system are not necessarily developed or advocated. As will be discussed subsequently in the review of the technical papers presented at the workshop, research undertaken at Sri Lanka's RRCs has spanned the continuum outlined by Morris.
In his paper, Dr. Upasena traces the shift from research
station-oriented multiple cropping experiments in the late 1960's to farmer field-oriented cropping systems research in the midand late-1970s and early 1980s. He describes how agricultural recommendations, developed to achieve intensified production within the newly irrigated areas of the Mahaweli Development Project, yielded disappointing results when confronted with the economic realities of the small farm system. In the mid-1970s, coincident with the development of the International Rice Research Institute-sponsored Asian Cropping Systems Network, Sri Lanka embarked on a program of cropping systems research with financial support first from the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC) and subsequently from USAID.
The history of the initiation of a cropping systems approach based at Maha Illuppallama Research Station and its spread to other parts of the country is introduced by Dr. Upasena and taken up by Dr. Sikurajapathy in his first paper, "Coordination and Functioning of the On-going Cropping Systems Program in Sri Lanka". The initial experimentation which took place at Walagambahuwa in the Dry Zone and Katupota in the Intermediate Zone was subsequently translated to a need not only for research on farmers' fields, but for a network of regional research centers to support that work in a representative range of environments throughout the country.
In his second paper, "Systems Approach to Research and
Extension in Sri Lanka: Conceptual and Practical Evolution of the Walagambahuwa and Katupota Experience", Dr. Sikurajapathy elaborates on how the cropping systems approach developed in response to the observation that farmers were not adopting research station-developed technology. He provides.more detail 6n the methods adopted at Walagambahuwa and Katupota, emphasizing the importance of on-farm investigation and the role of the "cooperator-participant researcher". While referring to the effort made to consider socio-economic factors and to locate the recommended changes in the context of a farming system which includes chena farming and the'homestead, as well as the paddy field, it should be remembered that in his first paper Dr. Sikurajapathy .acknowledged that the evaluation of social and economic constraints "... has been one of the weakest links in the chain."
In addition to indicating the role of the economist in
evaluating the existing system and analyzing the acceptability of the new recommendations, he gives recognition to the importance of Extension workers in supporting field research and in communicating the results to farmers. He also emphasizes the importance of giving adequate consideration to wider institutional involvement so that the availability of inputs and credit which are essential for the adoption of the recommended new technologies can be ensured.
Dr. Sikurajapathy ends his paper with an assessment of the reasons why, as he says "the pace of development of Cropping Systems research has been slow." The basic problem has been the difficulty in marshalling the necessary trained staff and resources in the coordinated manner which is central to the effectiveneps-lof the approach. The underlying lesson has pointed to the importance of better communication regarding the meaning 'and applicability of Farming Systems Research and Extension in Sri Lanka.
Approaches to Farmin Systems Research and Extension at the Regional Research Centers
The papers presented by the Regional Research Centers
indicate the presence of shared research objectives combined with a varied understanding of how a systems approach to agricultural research should be used to achieve these objectives. The range of interpretations of the systems approach will be discussed in a subsequent section when the technical presentations are reviewed. In this section the common strands which run through the general papers are examined.
The common objectives running through the papers include an increase in crop yields and farmer incomes, the diversification to patterns of field crop production which include crops other than rice, the intensification of land use given small average holding size and limited possibilities of expanding land area cultivated, and the identification of the small farmer as the target group for agricultural improvement.
Each paper offers a summary description of the agro-ecology and farming systems which are found in the region in question. Taken together these descriptions reflect the diversity in attributes such as terrain, soil type, altitude, rainfall pattern, degree of reliance on different types of irrigation, and practice of settled or shifting cultivation, which have combined to produce a multitude of farming systems in Sri Lanka. This sort of diversity leads Dr. Amarasiri, Deputy Director (Research) for Bandarawela, to wonder how much a research station can afford to tailor its efforts to the particularities of each farming system.*
* In some ways the question relates to the definition of the system to be addressed by research. Perhaps the answer lies in the observation made by Dr. Norman Simmonds in a paper he prepared for the World Bank on "The State of the Art of Farming Systems Research":
The choice of what to call a system for practical purposes
is always arbitrarily determined by the enquirers's
interest.... a subsystem is selected...in awareness of the
interactions with other subsystems.
(Sitmonds, 1984: 31)
se.in practice Lte only definition.of a 'system' useful for
these purposes refers to. an assemblage of farms (in a
limited area) which are like enough to each other,
technically and economically for the purpose in view. No useful objective typology/classification is useful at this
level. A 'system' is what an experienced worker says it is.
Associated with the descriptions of the varied agroenvironments which exist in the regions where the research stations operate is a recognition that there are still important gaps in information about those environments and about the farming systems operating in them. Several papers call for more baseline data on soils, land use capabilities and socio-economic conditions.
Another aspect of the diversity described in the papers is the range of combinations of components and types of enterprises which may be found under the management of a single farm household. Farms may include irrigated and upland areas, annual and perennial crops* livestock and fish. Recognizing that integration already exists on these farms, there is a call for coordination and integration in the work of the various disciplines and institutions whose job it is to serve the farmer.
While most of the papers demonstrate a bias toward agronomic research, many also indicate a recognition of the importance of an economic evaluation of the viability of the recommendations which have bean developed. Nevertheless, the need to strengthen the economic component, and the collection of additional- data to support it such as more reliable information on the costs of labor as well as of other inputs associated with the adoption of recommended practices is evident.
Several papers refer to the role of the ExtensionService in providing training and in disseminating research results. Although in many papers it is not entirely clear at what point Extension Officers have been drawn into the process of diagnosis, design and in-field testing associated with cropping/farming systems researcIg in the past,' the need to involve them in theentire process is indicated.
In keeping with a central feature of the farming systems approach, an important element in nearly all the papers is the testing of recommendations in farmers' fields as a step in research. A number of the papers refer to the contribution of the Extension Service in carrying out these tests.
Thus, several themes run through the general papers
presented at the Workshop. These themes include: the need for research to address a diverse range of environments and farming systems; the need for more information, physical as well as social and economic, about those environments; the need for researchers to recognize the inter-relationships between annual crops, perennial crops and livestock which commonly occur together on small mixed farms in Sri Lanka; the need to give more attention to the homestead area; the need for more interdisciplinary and inter-institutional integration as a way of addressing the diversity and integration which exists on the farm; and the importance of research and testing on farmers' fields. These observations confirm the relevance of a farming systems approach to research and extension in Sri Lanka.
Examples of FSR/E Activities being Undertaken at the
Regional Research Centers
As was indicated in the discussion of Dr. Morris' paper, the technical papers presented by the RRCs to the Workshop demonstrate how the actual implementation of a systems approach to agricultural research in Sri Lanka spans the continuum from a "reductionist approach" to New Farming Systems.
The paper prepared by the Kilinochchi RRC refers to weed
control studies and fertilizer studies which, although they might be combined in a recommendation package, appear to have been developed within a "reductionist approach". The paper from the Gannoruwa RRC describes a component research-type investigation of the relative merits of high fertilizer application and close planting of vegetables in Matale.
However, most of the research described would appear to fall within the category of On-Farm Research with a Farming Systems Perspective. These are investigations and recommendations which require relatively small incremental changes to particular portions of the farming system. Thus, for example, at Bandarawela new paddy varieties have been introduced to facilitate the planting of one or two additional vegetables crops in a year. At Makandura the introduction of intercrops under coconut has been studied. At Maha Illupallama varietal testing of grain legumes which fit into a range of environments and cropping systems is being undertaken. At Gannoruwa the attractiveness of intercropping tomatoes and cucumber with double or single spaced cassava has been tested.
The more radical changes associated with a Farming Systems Research approach are also being tried. The new technologies introduced at Walagambahuwa clearly required a significant readjustment in the allocation of farm resources. The recommendations being developed for the "Kandyan Garden" at Gannoruwa require changes in cropping pattern and input use which fall somewhere between OFR/FSP and FSR. The packages of practices being developed at Kilinochchi could, if adopted together, also require significant adjustments in resource allocation, including the construction of fences to keep grazing livestock off newly planted land which was formerly left fallow.
Finally, at the New Farming Systems end of the spectrum is the work being done at Angunakolapelessa and Girandurukotte. At both of these stations researchers are confronting situations which require more radical solutions. At Angunakolapelessa the stabilization of shifting cultivation requires consideration of the complex interactions of terrain, soil and water, as well as the settlement patterns and domestic requirements of the cultivator families. At Girandurukotte researchers must consider
not only how to promote a rapid increase in the income of new settlers, but also how to preserve natural resouroes in areas which are vulnerable to encroachment and subsequent environmental degradation.
Underlying this diversity the technical papers presented to the Workshop by the Regional Research Centers demonstrated certain shared features which reflect the current state of understanding and institutional organization in the application of a farming systems approach. In terms of methodology, there is a shared bias toward crop breeding and agronomy, with a weaker treatment of economic and social considerations. The precise way in which interdisciplinary team work is achieved, if at all, is not always clear. The way in which farmers' and market needs and opportunities are incorporated in the research process and also the provisions made for promoting the effective transfer and adoption of new technologies, are also not explicitly described. However, all the papers do recognize the presence of a range of agro-ecological and socio-economic factors which affect the types of solutions which should be tried and the likelihood that those solutions will be adopted.
Simmonds, Norman W. January 1984. The State of the Art of
Farming Systems Research. Mimeo report prepared 'for the
Agriculture and Rural Development Department of the World
WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS (PREPARED BY PARTICIPANTS)
CONCEPTS OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION TO BE USED IN SRI LANKA
Working Group I
The farming sector in Sri Lanka accounts for 80 percent of the total population. Yet it contributes only 30 to 35 percent of gross national product because of the various constraints imposed on farm families. Farmers have low incomes because of low levels of management and the seasonal nature of agriculture which results in a lack of year-round returns to production. Other factors responsible for low production and income are infrastructural constraints such as poor communications and inefficient input and output markets. The farmers operate small land holdingswhich cannot sustain a satisfactory standard of living, and the small scale of operation leads to considerable amounts of hidden unemployment.
The farming systems research and extension (FSR/E) approach to agricultural research seeks to find alternative ways to break down the limitations to improving farmers' living conditions. It proposes to do it through better utilization and management of scarce resources and available technology, and development of new technologies and skills.
The goal of improving farm income through a better and more sound approach will also contribute to national economic development, improved nutrition, better housing, health and education facilities, and improved social well-being. Furthermore, increased agricultural production for both local and export markets will lead to increased savings and foreign exchange earnings.
APPROACH, DEFINITION AND BENEFITS
To achieve agricultural development in Sri Lanka, it is
necessary to reinforce and reorganize the existing research and extension efforts. The methodology currently practised is based on a commodity or a subject matter approach. This has been referred to as a reductionist methodology2.
J. Handawela, Chairman R.A. Morris
H.A. Atapattu T.H.C. Perera
B.W. Emerson S. Samarakoon
G.W.E. Fernando D.E.F. Suraweera
S.J.B.A. Jayasekera D. Weeratunge
The reductionist methodology is appropriate for simple investigations such as fertilizer response curves, testing of agrochemicals, control of diseases and pests, determination of irrigation frequencies and crop water requirements. However, in more complex situations, in which factors such as the farm community, the physical environment, and the various enterprises of an individual farmer are involved, the reductionist methodology offers little chance of effective investigation. These situations can be dealt with more effectively by FSR/E. FSR/E is of special relevance when the outcome of the investigation results in important changes in existing farming systems.
FSR/E is a method to organize several disciplines and
support services to undertake, cooperatively, research projects aimed at increasing resource productivity. This involves introduction of technical innovations which are acceptable to farmers within a target area.
Differences in agro-ecological zones, resource levels, and socio-economic considerations have created a wide array of farming systems throughout Sri Lanka. FSR/E requires efforts to study thoroughly those farming systems found in the target area. The study will identify the unique characteristics of each farming system and determine the advantages, deficiencies and opportunities for improvement of the system.
FSR/E requires close collaboration and interaction among various agencies involved in agriculture. The presence of a framework in which this interaction can occur is a prerequisite for effective execution of research and extension.
In addition to the broad benefits which will accrue with the application of FSR/E, the following more specific advantages should be noted:
1. FSR/E activities are conducted in farm localities, hence
information generated using this research method will be more relevant and acceptable to local needs. This will
increase the adoption rate of technologies.
2. There is a considerable gap between potential yield (on
the research station) and realized yield (on the farmers'
field). This indicates that the farmers' resources are not
utilized efficiently. The introduction of FSR/E is expected
to reduce this resource productivity gap, i.e.
increase farm yields.
R.A. Morris. Farming Systems Approach to Research and Extension:
General Concepts and Methods. A paper presented at the FSR/E
Workshop, Sept. 17-20, 1986.
3. At present, many agricultural researchers do not have
first-hand knowledge of field problems. FSR/E requires
research workers to be directly involved with field problems
through contact with extension workers and the farmers.
Therefore, they will receive direct feedback on the results
of their research.
4. Cooperation between various disciplines will encourage
more effective management and utilization of existing
METHODOLOGY AND IMPLEMENTATION
A methodology consisting of four stages, diagnosis, design, testing and dissemination, should be used for FSR/E. Special emphasis should be given to characterization of the most important farming systems present and their environmental determinants (e.g. soil, climate) in the target area. The purpose of this characterization is to identify the constraints and opportunities existing in the target farming systems. A knowledge of these constraints and opportunities should assist in the establishment of research priorities consistent with the goals of improved agricultural production and farmer welfare.
To implement FSR/E projects at the regional level, a full-' time coordinator should be designated. This person will be responsible for coordination of all research activities and logistical matters in the Regional Research Center that supports FSR/E projects. The Agricultural Officer (AO) will be responsible for coordination of extension activities that support FSR/E projects at the segment level.
FSR/E projects should be monitored and evaluated
periodically. Progress reports should be submitted to the Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) every 6 months, within 1 month of the end of each season. Field evaluations should be conducted annually by a small (2-4 person) team designated by the RTWG.
National problems are numerous, but establishment of
priorities will depend on which problems are presented by the Assistant Directors of Agriculture (ADAA) at the RTWG meetings in each region. Regional priorities will be determined by the Deputy Directors/Research (DDRR) in colloboration with the ADAA.
Priorities will be selected for both irrigated and rainfed conditions. The following are a few examples:
1. Irrigated conditions
a) Mahaweli Systems B and C represent a unique
situation where settlements have been established
recently and a farming system tailored to a specific
situation can be introduced, without the necessity of
modifying an existing system.
b) Research on crop diversification should be
conducted on rice lands in areas where rice is grown in
the rainy season and other subsidiary food crops,
either rainfed or irrigated, are grown in the other
2. Rainfed conditions
a) Rainfed upland farming in the Dry Zone presents
major problems. Suitable farming systems need to be
developed to ensure stability, sustainability and
maintenance of soil fertility. On-farm experiments
should be done to select long- and short-age cultivars
for various crops and management practices which are
appropriate for the respective systems.
Implementation of FSR/E as outlined in this paper will require the following organizational responsibilities:
1. The work program will require the approval of the
Director of Agriculture. It will be implemented by, the
2. Each regional DDR will select a manageable number of
programs, depending on the priorities of that region. The
RTWG will assist in selection of problems and priorities.
3. The Deputy Director of Agriculture/Research will study
the regional FSR/E programs and allocate the necessary staff
and funds to the DDRR for successful implementation of the programs. The Deputy Director/Extension will allocate the
necessary funds for the ADAA of the districts to execute the
4. An extension officer of the level AO/ADA will cooperate
with the coordinator of FSR to carry out programs in
5. DARP will play a catalytic role by providing necessary
technical assistance, infrastructural facilities, organizing
training programs and study tours.
6. A national committee will be appointed to study FSR/E
programs and advise DARP.
7. Although FSR/E has already been approved by policy
makers as part of the Diversified Agricultural Research
Project, information to the Ministry of Agricultural
Research and Development should be updated on a regular
basis. This is necessary to obtain approval for extra funds
which will be required under the program.
CONSTRAINTS TO THE USE OF
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION APPROACH IN SRI LANKA
Working Group II
Categories of constraints
The adoption of Farming Systems Research and Extension
(FSR/E) has, in the past, encountered the following categories of constraints:
2. Personnel and communication
3. Institutional and operational
4. Agricultural policy
5. Integration of agencies
Inadequate operational funds have been a major impediment to the implementation of FSR/E in the past. Funds for recurrent expenditures for research and extension must be assured if FSR/E programs are to function efficiently and without interruption.
The only way to overcome this constraint is for the government to commit funds for agricultural research and extension on a long-term basis so that programs will not be curtailed by annual budgetary restrictions.
Funds for capital expenditures have not been so limited, as these were provided by foreign agencies which sponsored the FSR/E program.
FSR/E involves research and demonstrations on farmers'
fields. Therefore, the mobility of personnel involved in FSR/E is essential to the success of the program. Major limitations in this aspect have been:
1. Funds. There have been insufficient funds for fuel
costs, maintenance of vehicles and subsistence
allowances for personnel.
M. Sikurajapathy, Chairman G.A. Gunatilaka
P.O.S. Abeywardene K.L. de Silva
W.D. Albert G.W. Selleck
W.M.S. Bowatta H.U. Warnakulasuriya
2. Vehicles. The absence of a schedule for replacement of vehicles has adversely affected the program. The following
recommendations are made to overcome this constraint:
a) Plan in detail the long-term requirements for
vehicles, maintenance and fuel costs
b) Ensure funds for this purpose, with special
emphasis on maintenance funds
The FSR/E approach does not require investments in large buildings and machinery, but small farm equipment such as sprayers, weeders, seeders and water pumps are necessary. Procurement of this type of equipment has been a constraining factor. Procurement procedures have been established but the officers involved are often ignorant of the proper procedure, causing delays and disruption of the program. Personnel in charge of ordering equipment must be familiar with the procedures and the time involved from ordering to delivery.
Specifications and other relevant information for the items to be provided under DARP must be submitted well in advance to the proper authorities.
A serious constraint to the implementation of FSR/E programs in the past was a lack of manpower at all levels. Careful consideration should be given to the proper deployment and efficient use of existing manpower resources. The provision of adequate incentives, i.e. remuneration or career advancement, would increase the manpower available. Where manpower shortages are critical the provision of trained middle-level personnel would alleviate the problem. The manpower policies of the government should be kept in mind when designing FSR/E programs.
The financial constraints encountered by the government should be considered when developing an FSR/E program. The program should not exceed the available funding resources. Priority areas and activities should be established, keeping in mind the cost-benefit ratio.
The cost factor involved in the procedural and institutional arrangements for the adoption and application of FSR/E approach should be given serious consideration.
PERSONNEL AND COMMUNICATION CONSTRAINTS
Lack of trained personnel has been an important constraint to the development of FSR/E programs. When the farming systems approach was introduced to Sri Lanka there were no qualified or trained FSR personnel at the research centers. Expertise was developed through training at institutions abroad and on-the-job during the execution of the program. The extensive use of inexperienced persons, such as recent graduates of universities and high schools, was sometimes a liability. Trained personnel often failed to return to the project due to assignment to another area or resignation from the Department of Agriculture (DOA). A shortage of trained staff continues to be a serious constraint.
Information was lacking on appropriate institutions for training and the mechanism for selection and assignment of scholars was not fully developed.
While opportunities for training in FSR/E methodology were
available, the training needs in disciplines and technologies to support FSR/E programs were not identified, and the number of trained support staff remained inadequate.
Changes in the DOA policy on training hav caused confusion, delays and scholar dissatisfaction. It is complicated and time consuming for the scholars to receive country clearance.
1. Action to be taken
a) Send promising candidates to foreign universities
which specialize in FSR/E
b) Send promising candidates to appropriate
international and national institutions for short
courses on FSR/E, e.g. International Rice Research
Institute, International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture, University of Illinois, University of
Florida, Kansas State University
c) Establish FSR/E training at local universities and
other institutions, i.e. In Service Training Institute and Agricultural Research Training
d) Assign junior staff to experienced FSR/E officers
for on-the-job training.
e) The DOA should:
- adopt a consistent policy for training
- streamline the country clearance process
- expand the training capacity of the Training and Education Division to include FSR/E training for village level workers and farmers
f) DAEP and DOA should:
- provide timely information on training opportunities
- provide maximum lead time for identification of scholars and clearance procedures
2. Action agenda
a) Various training programs are already underway:
- short-term training at international institutions
- postgraduate training at US universities
- PGIA and the University of Peradeniya are
incorporating postgraduate research training in FSR into the 1987 curriculum
b) Train appropriate candidates in various
disciplines in relation to FSR/E projects Jan/87
c) Schedule training programs, by discipline, well in
advance of FSR/E need Jan/87
d) Train support staff and mid-level technicians
1. Communication with international institutions and local
institutions outside the DOA was limited.
2. With the exception of the Asian Farming Systems Research Network, mechanisms and links were absent or confined to the
coordinator who attended working groups.
3. There were insufficient seminars and workshops for
dissemination of information.
4. Procedures and facilities were inadequate for
distribution of information to FSR/E practitioners.
5. Action to be taken
a) Encourage communication between FSR/E team members
in the DOA and those of outside agencies such as
Minor Export Crops, Department of Animal
Protection and Health, Coconut Research Institute,
Agricultural Research Training Institute and
b) Encourage wider participation in seminars and
workshops, which should emphasize regional
c) Strengthen regional facilities for communication
d) Utilize the facilities of the Education and
Training Division for production and dissemination
of newsletters on FSR/E activities.
e) Encourage activities such as field days and
interlocation visits for information exchange.
INSTITUTIONAL AN~D OPERATIONAL CONSTRAINTS
1. Lack of commitment to FSR/E in the DOA
A thorough understanding of the FSR/E approach, its
operation and goals, is necessary for the development of a
department-wide commitment to its implementation. This lack
of understanding and commitment has been a major constraint
in the past.
At the department level, the lack of commitment was due
to insufficient awareness and involvement of the members of
the directorate in the plans and goals of the Cropping
Systems Projects. Only the Deputy Director/Research (DDR) and his research staff were involved in drawing up project proposals. Other members were informed only when specific
questions arose. The Chief Accountant or his staff were not
consulted on estimates and procurement procedures.
Selection of personnel for training was also a function of
the Research Division only.
2.. Absence of a cohesive multidisciplinary team
At the regional level a major constraint to promotion of
the systems approach has been the difficulty of getting scientists to work together as a multidisciplinary team.
Scientists did not realize the benefits of such a system, or
were concerned that their discipline might be subordinated
by the farming systems approach. Misunderstanding also
developed between the economist and agronomist on problem
identification or suitable procedures for undertaking field
3. Action to be taken
a) Formation in the DOA of a technical working group
that is fully informed About FSR projects,
policies, targets and plans. This group should
have the responsibility to make decisions on the
types of projects tQ be undertaken and the
individuals responsible for the projects in each
b) Organize a regional working group with the DDR as
Chairman, to determine what types and how field
studies are to be conducted.
c) Team work should begin at the design stage.
d) Outline clearly the tasks for the members of the
field research/extension team.
e) All publications or reports resulting from team
work should be co-authored.
1. The absence of an operational framework for researchers
and extension personnel at the field level.
2. Inadequate planning, review and information exchange.
3. Action to be taken
a) Formation of regional field-level operational teams
A team should be made up of an agronomist/soil
scientist, economist, extension officer and other
specialists when appropriate.
The leadership of such a team generally should be from research, but leadership capabilities should
be an important factor in selection.
b) Organization of preseason workshops
Planning of the Cropping Systems Program was done
previously through visits to the region by the coordinator or through annual workshops. The
workshops reviewed the previous seasons' field
research, research programs for the next year, and
budget-estimates. It is felt that this method is
not sufficient for organization of dynamic field
programs. It is recommended that preseason
workshops be organized in every region to consider
all aspects of the field program. All those
involved in the program should participate in the
AGRICULTURAL POLICY CONSTRAINTS
In designing technical changes to improve present farming systems it is essential to identify and consider the socioeconomic situation of farmers, particularly those constraints relating to land ownership. The right to own land will determine the degree to which the farmer will accept a proposed change in his farming system.
The following land ownership patterns are sometimes
constraints to the implementation of suitable farming systems:
1. Squatters on state-owned land
These farmers are not bound by tenurial conditions.
Their first concern is to obtain a piece of land on which to
build a house. They then encroach gradually on land surrounding the house to cultivate crops, mainly for
subsistence. They hope to be given the right to own the
land in the future or be provided with alternate settlement
opportunities in more favorable areas.
AccessibilitT' to their farming units is poor., They are
not eligible for credit and government subsidized -inputs.
They often create problems for development of a farming
system for the community by interfering with drainage
patterns to permit irrigation of their crops.
2. Tenurial ownership
Under tenurial ownership neither the owner nor tenant
is concerned about capital improvements such as soil
conservation or establishment of a permanent source of
irrigation, such as wells.
In the case of rice land, the Paddy Lands Act governs
the tenurial conditions which apply to paddy cultivation. A
constraint arises when other crops are introduced into a rice-based cropping pattern. The owner can prohibit the
tenant from adopting such a cropping pattern, however
appropriate it may be in a proposed farming system.
3. Lease ownership
Lease ownership represents temporary ownership of land.
The same constraints operate as for tenurial ownership.
4. Action to be taken
a) The Paddy Lands Act should be amended to
incorporate tenurial conditions which will allow
production of other crops in a rice-based cropping
b) Laws must be formulated to safeguard tenants on
highland farming systems.
c) Design farming systems which include annual crops.
INTEGRATION OF AGENCIES
Execution of any program aimed at helping farmers to improve their situation needs the effective and voluntary cooperation and coordination of all agencies involved in supporting agriculture. Thus the development and implementation of a Farming Systems program should not be the concern solely of the DOA. However, within the DOA, common goals of the program, rather than compartmentalized objectives should be emphasized.
1. Action to be taken
a) A framework should be developed for the
integration of all appropriate agencies involved
in farming systems development programs.
b) Integration should develop from the village level,
with the involvement of the village-level
extension workers, Cultivation Officers, and Gramasevakas through Farming Clinics, to the
district level through the District Agricultural
Committee (DAC), the official organization for
execution of agricultural programs in the
c) In order to develop comprehensive action programs
for introduction of a farming systems program to
the DAC, it is proposed that a committee be
established at the district level consisting of
representatives from appropriate disciplines
within the DOA.'
CONSIDERATION OF FARMERS' AND MARKET NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN
THE FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION APPROACH TO TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
WORKING GROUP III
One of the most important activities in a Farming Systems Research/Extension (FSR/E) program is the identification of farmer and market needs and their incorporation into the program. The ultimate objective of a FSR/E program is to increase farm productivity and income through technical innovations which permit a better system of farming within existing constraints. However, this is subject to acceptance and adoption of the proposed innovations by the farmers. In order to make sure that farmers will accept the new technology and adopt it over a sustained period of time, it is of utmost importance that the FSR/E program consider at all stages the bio-physical and socioeconomic circumstances of the environment in which the farmer operates.
The procedure suggested in this report to incorporate
farmer and market needs into the research process is not new. Earlier projects related to FSR/E advocated a similar procedure but it was not practised. The main difference in the procedure recommended in this report is the emphasis placed on a step-bystep review by all participants in the program, including the farmers, of the relevance of decisions taken. In other words, FSR/E will not proceed automatically from one step to another but will check back with farmers' and market needs at designated stages.
The overall procedure is outlined as follows:
1. Formation of an interdisciplinary (ID) team
2. Inventory of existing farm resources and environmental
3. Problem identification
4. Search for available technologies
5. Short-term recommendations by the ID. team based on (4)
G.A.C. de Silva, Chairman J. Fernando
A. Abeysinghe W.A.K. Karunatilake
N. K. Atapattu S.W. Kiriarachchi
C. E. Claassen M. I. M. Rafeek
D. M. W. Dissanayake S. M. Somaratne
6. Conceptualization of a probable long-term research
program designed by the ID team
7. Period of appraisal in relation to (2) above
8. Revise the long-term research design
9. Station research on systems relevant to (2)
10. Testing in farmers' fields
11. Modification of the developed technology to make it more
acceptable to the farmers
13. Evaluation of adoption by the ID team with reference to
14. Repeat the cycle from (2) taking into account the results
of (13) as well the dynamic nature of agriculture
The above procedure prompts the following questions:
1. Who are the members of the ID team; what are their
roles; at what stages of the procedure do they become
2. What are the needs of the farmers and the market; how
can this information be obtained; who will get this
3. Why are there checkback or appraisal periods; how can
these checkbacks be performed; by whom?
Answers to the above questions will clearly define the necessary procedures for effective execution of FSR/E.
As the FSR/E program will be conducted at the regional
level, the ID team will also act at the regional level. The team will include the following officers:
- Deputy Director/Research of the Regional Research
- Assistant Directors of Agriculture of the districts
under the Regional Research Center
- Regional Agricultural Economist
- Regional Assistant Director of Agriculture (Training)
1. Responsibilities of the ID team:
a) Call upon other officers of various disciplines in
their region, such as Research Officers, Subject
Matter Specialists, to help them as the necessity
b) Identify the FSR/E sites on the basis of available
information, experience, and observations.
c) Obtain an inventory of the needs of the farmers
and the market.
d) Assist in the design-of the long-term research
program and be involved, to some degree, in
conducting this research on the research station
as well as on farmers' fields.
e) Appraise the research programs through checkbacks
f) Evaluate farmer acceptance and adoption of the
technology developed by research.
g) Recommend to the Department of Agriculture (DOA),
the policy changes necessary, especially in the
fields of marketing and infrastructure, to motivate adoption of innovations preferred.
Inventory of Farm Resources and Environment
Farm environment consists of three types of components. Information pertaining to these must be obtained in order to understand the farmers problems, and to incorporate their needs, into FSR/E efforts.
1. Natural environment: Climate, soil and biology. Among
the many sub-factors that can be identified, the more
importAnt are rainfall, drought, flood, irrigation, etc.
2. Socio-economic conditions. Some of the important
a) Formal and informal market opportunities
b) Farm gate price movements
c) Off-farm employment
d) Specialization of the area
e) Level of subsistence and commercialization
f) Cost of production
h) Input supply
J) Marketable surplus
3. Farmer activities and methods. These are the crops, livestock and off-farm activities pursued by the farmer,
their relative importance in terms of extents cultivated as
well as income, uses made of the output and possible
alternative uses, calendar of operations, labor
availability, seasonality of migrant labor and labor
Methods of Obtaining Farm Resource and Environmental Inventory
The methods are broadly grouped into formal and informal
ones. It is suggested that the informal method be used initially and could include farm visits, surveys, and field observations. The full ID team should participate in the collection of data. The required data is indicated in the three categories noted in the previous section. It is anticipated that in many instances the information gathered by informal methods will be sufficient to design the long-term research program. If it is decided that a formal survey is required, the ID team would specify the type and amount of data necessary. The survey would be done by the regional economist.
The procedure suggested in this report differs from others used in that it includes an ID team and emphasizes check backs with farmers.
Once the ID team has collected the necessary farm
environment information they will be in a position to design the preliminary trials and conceptualize the outcome. If such outcomes are not likely to be accepted and adopted by the farmers this research is bound to fail in the field when the DOA withdraws from the area of activity. It is suggested, therefore, that the ID team cross-check the preliminary design and outcome (results) with data gathered at the initial stage and during subsequent consultation with the farmers. If the new technology still seems compatible and acceptable to the farmers the ID team can proceed with research on station and in the field.
SUCCESSFUL EXAMPLES OF INCORPORATION OF FARMER AND MARKET NEEDS
1. There was a need among upcountry potato farmers to store potatoes for more than 6 months. With the available storage techniques the maximun storage time was limited to 2 months. Farmers accepted the diffused light storage technique, which was developed outside Sri Lanka.
2. Welimada farmers needed a 'short-age red rice variety. When the total package of cropping systems developed at Uva Paranagama was introduced, the only component they accepted was the short-age red rice variety, BG 94-1(R).
3. Paddy threshers became popular over a short period of time.
1. Farmers in Kalawewa began to cultivate large extents of chillies and blackgram when production of these crops declined in the traditional cultivation areas of Jaffna and Vavuniya.
2. Farmers in Matale, Puttalam and in other districts began to cultivate red onions and Bombay onions when supplies declined from the North.
DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED IN THE PAST
1. Conflicts among interdisciplinary teams due to a lack of understanding of each other's discipline.
2. Lack of farmer and market information and no recognition of the need for such information.
3. No on-going or post-evaluation of related projects.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
1. FSR/E should be a continuous program in order to obtain sustained results over a long period of time.
2. It should be integrated into the existing research and extension system.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO DARP
1. Provide necessary training to officers involved in FSR/E.
PROVISIONS WITHIN THE
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION APPROACH
FOR THE ACCEPTANCE AND EASY TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY AT THE FARM LEVEL
Working Group IV
FACTORS AFFECTING TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
This group identified the following major obstacles to the effective transfer of technology to farmers:
1. Inadequate understanding of farmers'problems when
2. Lack of a diagnostic approach to farmers' problems,
resulting in incomplete or inappropriate solutions.
3. Lack of a multidisciplinary effort in the diagnosis of problems and the development of relevant technology. This has resulted in recommendations that are often unacceptable
to farmers. This has also lessened the commitment of
personnel involved in developing and implementing
Key issues in overcoming obstacles
In order to overcome these obstacles the following key issues should receive consideration:
1. Farmer participation. From the beginning of the
research and extension process it is essential to have farmer involvement in problem identification, analysis,
technology development, testing and transfer.
2. Multidisciplinary effort. It is essential to have a team effort, involving multidisciplinary agencies, from
diagnosis to the final adoption of practices. This team
should assign well-defined duties to each agency or officer
at different levels. Everyone involved in the program
should be committed to solving the problems of the farmer.
1 S. Wirasinghe, Chairman S. Kandasamy
M.S.M. Azmi W.H.D. Kularatne
S.H. Charles B. Perera
D.W. Henderson A. Senthinathan
L.G. Herath Y.M. Wickramasinghe
The process, from identification of the farmers' needs to the transfer of technology, will be continuous and should be reviewed and adjusted to the changing situations of farmers. This will ensure that real problems are diagnosed and effective solutions found.
In the implementation of the Farming Systems
Research/Extension (FSR/E) program the present arrangement for technology transfer should be modified to accomodate the above considerations.
1. Establish interdisciplinary teams composed of personnel
from the agencies shown in Figure 1.
DDR Economic Ext. DD Education Other
Regional DD/Div. Div. & training Institutions
DD/Seeds MEC AP a H
Figure 1. Agencies and groups to be represented in interdiciplinary
FSR/E teams in Sri Lanka.
2. Expand and strengthen the Regional Technical Working
Group (RTWG) so its structure can be used to implement
the FSR/E program.
a) Deputy Director Research, Regional Research Center
should be the leader of all FSR/E working groups or teams in the respective regions. He will be responsible for intra-departmental coordination
and implementation of the program.
b) The Assistant Director (Extension) will be
appointed as Deputy Chairman of the RTWG with
specific responsibility for inter-departmental and inter-agency coordination with farmers. He should
mobilize the support of other agencies to
implement the FSR/E program in the district.
c) The segment Agricultural Officer will be appointed
as convenor of the FSR/E team. The working team
at the segment level should consist of:
- Research Officer (FSR/E)
- Agricultural Officer
- Subject Matter Officers
- Village Level Extension Workers
- Representatives of other agencies
- Farmer representatives
3. The following steps are recommended for the diagnostic
a) Characterize districts, according to FSR/E
requirements, with secondary data where available.
This should include data on past performance,
successes and failures of FSR/E activities. The team would then review this data and visit areas
concerned, select random samples of farmers to
interview them individually or in groups.
b) Use the above information to list action priorities.
c) Select a few sites in each segment.
d) Conduct field clinics. At field clinics,
discussions between researchers and farmers will
ensure that the two groups have the same
perceptions of problems. The need for the clinics
is based on the contention that patients cannot
adequately describe problems, they describe
symptoms. Figure 2 illustrates the process by
which farmers and researchers reach a mutual
understanding of problems.
R ER E
Original situation Beginning to understand Ideal situation after
Problems few field clinics
Figure 2. Confluence in theunderstanding of farmer's problems among
participants in "field clinics".
e) A baseline survey should be done to obtain more
in-depth information on the study area.
f) Results of the baseline survey should be related
to the findings of the field clinics. Further
verification may be needed from farmers.
A Department of Agriculture (DOA) team should formulate extension methodology, including demonstrations, field days etc. Obvious findings can be immediately recommended for adoption by farmers. Once the baseline survey data is analyzed and checked against one or two seasons of FSR/E activities, the process will become more refined and applicable to a larger number of problems.
g) Figure 3 shows the FSR/E program operation in a segment.
Figure 3. Proposed scheme of operation for a FSR/E team at
segment level in Sri Lanka.
4. The DOA should provide for recurrent budget expenditures while capital expenditures, training and equipment will be provided by DARP and other funding sources.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS AND TRAINING ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATED WITH FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION
Working Group V
Allocation of financial resources for Farming Systems Research/Extension (FSR/E)
Two areas critical to the effective implementation of FSR/E and which need additional financial resources are:
1. On-farm research/extension activities. These activities
require recurrent funding for:
c) fuel and maintenance of the vehicles
d) on-farm casual labor
e) field assistants to supervise on-farm labor
f) inputs such as seeds, agrochemicals, fertilizer,
machinery and equipment
2. Training and information exchange activities.
Funds are required for training programs and materials
to upgrade personnel involved in FSR/E and to support the
transfer of technology. Funds will be used for:
a) training of officers
b) conducting field days
c) farmer training classes
e) printing and distributing publications
Recommended changes in intra-departmental staff deployment and organization
1. To facilitate the coordination of FSR/E activities,
it is recommended that a Department of Agriculture-FSR/E
Central Committee be established. The committee should
a) Director of Agriculture responsible for project
b) Deputy Directors of Agriculture in charge of
S.H. Upasena, Chairman L. Dissanayake T.T. Ranasinghe
S. Amarasiri J.A.T.P. Gunawardena B.H. Raphael
A.M. de Mel A.H.G. Mitrasena W. Ratnayake
Y.P. de Silva A. Nagendran C. Strickland
c) Chief Accountant
d) DARP representatives
The functions of the Committee should be to:
a) coordinate FSR/E activites
b) decide on policy matters regarding FSR/E projects
c) monitor and evaluate FSR/E projects
2. Regional Action Committees (RACC), comprised of the
following members, should be set up to implement
regional FSR/E activities:
a) Regional Deputy Director (Research) Chairman
b) Assistant Director of Agriculture (Extension) of
c) Assistant Director of Agriculture (Seeds)
d) Assistant Director of Agriculture (Training)
e) Regional Agricultural Economist
f) Representatives of other departments and agencies
The functions of the RACC are as follows:
a) Identification, formulation and implementation of
FSR projects in the region
b) Monitoring and evaluation
c) Implementation of central Committee decisions
d) Coordination of regional interdepartmental
e) Selection of candidates for training
Recommendations for feasible changes and/or improvements in inter-departmental communication and cooperation
Refer to previous section under functions of RACC.
Recommendations for training programs and information exchange
Training of personnel in the following areas is needed
to strengthen FSR/E activities:
- Soil and water management
- Principles of farming systems
- Research and extension methodology
- Group interactions
- Training of trainers
a) Short-term training:
Short-term training will be given to officers at all
levels involved in FSR/E activities. It will include
study tours for senior officers and groups of village
level officers to yisit model FSR/E projects abroad and
locally. Short-term training should be conducted for
Subject Matter Of'ficers (SMOO), Agricultural
Instructors, Village Level Extension Workers and
farmers at In Service Training Institutes, District Agricultural Training Centers, Agriculture Research
Training Institute (ARTI) etc. Resource personnel and
trainers needed for local training will be:
- FSR/E researchers
- Assistant Directors of Agriculture, Agricultural
Officers, SMOO of the extension service
- Subject MatteroSpecialists of training centres
- Specialists from other departments and
institutions such as ARTI and universities
b) Long-term training:
Long term training will be at the postgraduate level
either locally or overseas. The RACC will be
responsible for recommending candidates through the
Deputy Directors to the Director of Agriculture.
2. Information Exchange
The timely and effective flow of information is
important to keep FSR/E personnel informed of the latest
technologies. The measures recommended to accomplish this
a) Annual seminars or conferences
b) Monthly Regional Technical Working Group/Research/
Extension discussions on FSR/E activities
c) Publish articles on FSR/E in Krushi, Govikam
Sangarawa leaflets and other publications
d) Utilization of mass media programs
e) Conduct demonstrations and field days
f) Group meetings with farmers and officers
g) Meetings with the District Agricultural Committee
to discuss departmental policy
The time. schedule for the recommendations made by this
working group are shown below:
Formation of the Central Committee Oct/Nov 1986
Formation of the Regional Action Committee Nov/Dec 1986
Identification of projects Dec/86-Jan/87
Project preparation plans and budget Feb/March 1987
Submission for approval of Director
of Agriculture March 1987
Implementation of projects Yala 1987
Program review (1-year cycle) Sept/April
PAPERS PRESENTED AT THE WORKSHOP
CONCEPTS AND METHODS IN FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH
FARMING SYSTEMS APPROACH TO RESEARCH AND EXTENSION:
GENERAL CONCEPTS AND METHODS
R. A. Morris
For many years the classical reductionist approach to
agricultural research was virtually the only approach advocated: decompose a subject into many small parts and investigate each part. Research of a basic nature led to the establishment of scientific principles. However, most agricultural research was of an applied nature and was conducted on experiment stations and/or in laboratories. Experiments were conducted to define a problem more specifically and then to identify a solution to the problem. Recently, systems analysis (and systems simulation) has been employed as a complement to reductionist research methods. Systems methods have encouraged scientists to put components parts together and, in the process, to examine how systems work. Emphasis is placed on identifying those endogenous and exogenous variables which strongly affect systems performance.
During the past 10 years, we have heard much about the Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) approach. Proponents of this approach have, on occasion, maintained that this is the best and in some cases the only valid approach to agricultural research aimed at improving conditions for smallscale farmers. Others have argued that the approach has no validity and that it has directed scarce resources and impressionable minds into unproductive activities. Perhaps both views are partially correct. Many people (including the author) believe that FSR/E was over-sold. Yet many (including the author) believe that FSR/E has a role in the programs of many research organizations. How does the FSR/E approach differ from the reductionist approach? What advantages does FSR/E offer? In what situations is FSR/E likely to prove more effective than the reductionist approach? Two examples will contrast the difference between the two approaches.
,Let us look at the chilli disorder problem as a useful
reductionist example. The problem was identified by extension staff. A task force was formed to investigate the problem. Activities have progressed to the analytical stage. Many observations have been made and hypotheses presented. These hypotheses are baing examined. Eventually evidence should converge. Once the causal factors are identified, scientists can test feasible alternative corrective practices. The more effective alternatives can be tested by subject matter specialists in farmers' fields, and the most effective alternatives can be demonstrated and popularized by extension staff.
1 Agronomist, Diversified Agricultural Research Project, Peradeniya
In this example, the research effort is multidisciplinary,
not interdisciplinary. That is, many disciplines are focusing on the same compelling problem (the chilli disorder) but essentially independently of each other. With respect to farmer acceptance of a remedy, the target farmers are now growing chillies and it is unlikely they would reject a corrective practice unless it is extremely complex and/or costly.
The above example involves a bidirectional flow of
information: farmer to extension agent to scientist and back to extension agent and to farmer. It also involves the classical scientific method: observe hypothesize test report. This approach to agricultural research is simple and relatively easy to manage.
For the second example, let us take the development of
technology appropriate for different land types in System B of the Mahaweli Development Project. In this system, small irrigated farms are being developed from jungle-covered crown lands. How does one proceed to formulate a research program for this situation? Who passes information to the research staff? How is the research program to be organized and coordinated? How does the research effort interface with extension, irrigation system operations and other, local development efforts?
This situation clearly requires a research approach different from that used to find a solution for the chilli disorder. Nevertheless, the approach applied in System B must have the same elements which are found in the chilli disorder research program. Research needs must be identified and prioritized, research resources (manpower, materials, equipment, operational budget) must be focused on each research topic, and provision must be made for disseminating useful findings to target farmers. For System B, general climate and soils information are known. Farm sizes and the layout of the irrigation ditches are known. The schedule ofwater issues is known. Furthermore, it can be assumed that paddy will dominate the Maha and other crops the Yala. Beyond that not much can be assumed and therefore a research program that is both more exploratory and comprehensive than that established for the chilli disorder problem will be required. In addition to the technical matters relating to the management of crops, soils and water in System B, questions of farmer acceptance of technology and market acceptance of surplus production should be addressed.
Scientists working in System B face a research undertaking that has many diverse components: what crops to grow, where and when to grow them, and how to plant, fertilize, irrigate, protect, harvest, process and market them? No single discipline can generate all the information needed to produce the desired output. Nor is it likely that individuals working independently will automatically coordinate to generate all necessary information. Moreover, in such a project how does one get a quick test of farmer acceptance? At what point do subject matter specialists and other extension staff begin to disseminate
useable information? To where and/or whom do they extend it? It is in such situations that FSR/E methods are more appropriate than conventional reductionist research methods.
FSR/E is a method for organizing several disciplines and support services to undertake a research and extension project which will increase resource productivity by employing technical innovations acceptable to farmers managing land within a target area (agro-ecological zone). This definition contains seven significant points: 1) The method is interdisciplinary. 2) It seeks to integrate research and support services to produce a development project. 3) FSR/E activities are projects which are time-bound, not open ended. 4) The project aims to increase the productivity of farm resources. 5) To increase resource productivity, an FSR/E project aims to employ technical innovations developed by applied agricultural research programs. 6) The innovations must be acceptable to the farmers. 7) FSR/E projects are aimed at defined target agro-ecological zones. A typical FSR/E project has four recognized stages.
This stage of FSR/E encompasses description of physical, social, biologic, and economic attributes followed by analysis and interpretation with the intent to: 1) establish the environmental framework within which a project is to function (farm organization, social organization, physical resources, agriculture support services), and 2) identify factors which are likely to determine crop performance and feasible cultural practices. Secondary data sources are emphasized as much as possible.
In this stage, alternative practices or farm activities are formulated. They are usually technical innovations intended to overcome constraints or to use resources more efficiently (the production of cowpea after paddy is a hardware example, timing of irrigation is a software example), but in some cases they may be alternative program solutions (a long term credit program for a capital improvement such as the establishment of hedgerows to reduce soil erosion).
Evaluation occurs at several levels (field, enterprise,
farm, and community). Alternatives are evaluated in physical as well as economic units. Judgments are made on stability and sustainability. Of particular interest are technologies to which system performance is strongly sensitive. These must be given special emphasis in extension programs.
Conventional dissemination activities are normally used to popularize useable information. However, when subject matter specialists and extension staff participate in the early stages of a research project (diagnosis, design, and evaluation), they become familiar with the technology, know its management requirements, expected performance, and the conditions under which it should be effective (i.e. its domain of adaptation). Moreover, with subject matter specialists and other extension staff active in the project from the beginning, advanced testing and dissemination of innovations that prove acceptable can begin early in the project.
Output from FSR/E projects are 1) identification of research needs (for research departments), 2) extendable information (technologies that can be extended to farmers in target environments), and 3) information for policy and development agencies (e.g., technologies for crops that are well adapted to an environment but for which a local market does not exist, or identification of a chemical that is critical for protecting a crop but which is not locally available).
A third research approach can be delineated between the
reductionist and FSR/E examples: on-farm research with a farming systems perspective (OFR/FSP). Such research projects are commodity oriented, i.e. they have specific objectives such as increasing rice production, maize production, etc. Target areas are identified. Diagnostic surveys are conducted to determine farm resource levels and factors which may be constraining yields or profits. Hypotheses about limiting factors are formulated and exploratory experiments are conducted. As a test of acceptability, farmers are asked to use the best-performing alternatives.
In OFR/FSP projects, farmers are often already growing the crops under study and the objective is to increase production or income. If a new crop is introduced it is expected that it will replace a current crop or be grown on land which is not used during some season (e.g., cowpea grown as a catch crop on residual soil moisture after rice harvest). OFR/FSP projects tend to be smaller than FSR/E projects in scope and in number of disciplines and personnel involved. The technology tested may be regarded as "mature", and support by disciplines from a research institute may be incidental. Like the reductionist approach-aimed at an identified problem, OFR/FSP projects do not embark on a program explicitly aimed at increasing the productivity of a limited resource base, but if the project is successful, it will effectively do that for some resource categories.
New Farming Systems (NFS) such as those developed by ICRISAT for the semi-arid tropics, IITA for the humid tropics, and IRRI for irrigated ricelands in monsoon Asia (Bradfield's research in the late 1960s) were developed under controlled conditions on experiment stations to determine production potentials of assumed
sets of resources. NFS research can be regarded as a fourth farming systems research approach. These systems represent radical departures from the agricultural systems presently practised in the target agro-ecological environments. Implicit in NFS research is an assumption that revolutionary changes in land management and social organization can eventually be introduced into target groups to bring farm resources to a higher level of productivity. The logic behind the development of much NFS research is that conservation of limiting resources, such as water and nutrients and/or the use of slack resources (e.g. labor) will increase overall productivity. NFS research has addressed the question of sustainability (productivity maintenance over years) more comprehensively than most other agricultural research efforts directed at "problem" agroecological environments.
Merrill-Sands (1986) describes more completely these and other categories of farming systems research. Readers should consult this reference for a fuller discussion of FSR/E categories and rationale.
The elements in the reductinuist method and FSR/E approach, as exemplified by the chilli disorder problem and the complex situation in System B are summarized in Table 1. Reductionist methods are effective when a well-defined problem, such as the chilli disorder, is identified in a farming system. FSR/E methods are appropriate when research must generate recommendations which, if adopted, would require the farmer to make a major adjustment in his present farming operation. The best known Sri Lankan example of an FSR/E project was conducted at Walagambahuwa.
There are obvious parallels between the reductionist and FSR/E methods:
Are the two approaches really different? The difference between them is in the system level on which research is focused. FSR/E is used at a higher level than the reductionist approach. The approaches are not incompatible. Scientists working within an FSR/E framework will apply the reductionist approach to examine problems at a lower system level. When the systems level is emphasized however, another dimension that is not normally explicitly recognized in the reductionist approach enters the research program. In real farming systems, decisions are made by farmers and other family members. Ultimately, if a technical innovation is to increase resource productivity, it must be acceptable to those making decisions about what to produce and how, when and where to produce it. This is explicitly recognized
in the FSR/E framework and research is formulated so that farmer acceptability can be judged in the early stages of a project. To make this judgement, farmers should participate in the project.
Table 1. Elements in reductionist and FSR/E approaches to
-----------------------------------------------------------Chilli Technology development
Element disorder System B
-m--m-m-m-mm---m--me-------------------------------------------------Problem identification Well circumscribed Many problems are
none are clearly
Research program Multi-disciplinary Interdisciplinary
task force which team which must
has established the first establish
research agenda and the research agenda,
encouraged individuals muster research to undertake resources, conduct
research as a exploratory research
component of their to circumscribe
regular programs problems, and
Dissemination Through extension Through extension
organizations organizations which
already in place, are developing and
and which will be which will be
required to deliver required to deliver
a single message many messages
--m--mm-----mm-mmemm-------------------------------------------------FSR/E projects emphasize increased productivity of a limited resource base (land, capital and labor) with land types or "typical" farms being references. The reductionist approach will also lead to increased productivity from limited resources but it is seldom the explicit objective of such projects to exploit the untapped potential of a set of resources by introducing technical innovations.
Organization and Implementation
Although there is general agreement on the four stages in FSR/E, the incorporation of FSR/E projects into an existing research management framework is another matter. This section touches briefly on FSR/E organization and implementation.
Table 2 summarizes the way FSR/E projects might be included with other projects in the framework of a Regional Research Center's program., Discipline-oriented research projects are virtually self contained within disciplinary divisions. In many countries these projects' are actually a'series of experiments in response to research needs perceived by a scientist in control of his own resources. In discipline-based projects, research is often not bound by time or budgetary constraints other than those of a department. Furthermore, because individuals are-expected to work independently, there is little need to coordinate the efforts of a group of scientists.
FSR/E projects are generally time bound and have a limited budget. Each participating division indicates the resources, manpower and equipment it will assign to the project.' One scientist is identified to coordinate (but not direct) the efforts of the participating scientists. The coordinator often has a budget to cover expenses associated with communication, travel and other overhead costs associated with a project. However, the resources required for any research activity which the coordinator undertakes in the project in his capacity as a scientist must come from the research resources of his division.
'Table 2 also summarizes the organization of disciplines
included in FSR/E and other Interdisciplinary projects. FSR/E may require the participation of agencies external to the Department of Agriculture. An FSR/E project is initiated by getting relevant disciplines to agree to participate in an activity with established goals and a fixed time frame. The goals will include a statement of the general changes or improvements which are required to increase resource productivity in .a target area. Following agreement on project goals and target area, the descriptive or diagnostic stage is initiated. A profile of the present farming system is assembled. The system is described in terms of physical, biological, economic and social characteristics.
After completion of the initial descriptive stage, all disciplines and relevant agricultural support agencies participate in a planning meeting (usually over 2 days). Here they establish the annual research program in the target area, the way farmers are to be incorporated into the project, the research variables to be examined by each discipline and bycombinations of disciplines, and the activities that extension officers can undertake immediately (e.g. multi-location trials, demonstrations of component technologies, and surveys to determine farmer recognition of diseases, insects, weeds, and nutrient deficiencies). At the-planning meeting, decisions are
also made on appropriate adjustments to the research programs being conducted on the experiment station.
Subsequent to the planning meeting, research is implemented. The coordinator keeps the participants informed of project developments and arranges for regular staff meetings and field visits during critical periods.
A 2- or 3- day meeting is held at the end of the year to
review research results and to plan activities for the following year. With each succeeding year an increasing amount of technology should be ready for testing and promotion by extension officers over a wider range of conditions in the target area. Upon project completion, innovations that farmers participating in the research project have found acceptable should be tested in a pilot production program. The supporting services required to make the proposed innovations economically viable must be coordinated and tested during the pilot production phase.
At each stage in the process, those crop innovations or
techniques which do not perform as expected should be returned to appropriate research divisions for improvement. If a division has a scientist participating in the FSR/E project, this feedback mechanism will automatically proceed through him.
FSR/E and reductionist approaches and the steps in each were summarized earlier. Another point should made about the FSR/E approach. An important aspect of any interdisciplinary research project is coordination of the efforts of individuals. Goalorientation aids coordination. When all individuals participate in the formulation of a goal, as they should in an FSR/E project, they are more likely to direct their separate efforts toward that goal than toward* a goal established for them. The management input required to maintain coordination horizontally (across disciplines) and vertically (from junior to senior levels within a discipline) is less when a goal is established by consensus. In FSR/E projects, which by nature are large and diverse, a meetingg of the minds" to establish goals is beneficial.
Table 2. FSR/E project organization within the research framework of
a Regional Research Center (RRC).
--------------------------------------------------------------Research programs and project RRC --------------------------------------------------Division Disciplinary Multidisciplinary
------------- ----------------------------------------A B C CIP1 CIP2 IPM CRP1 CRP2 FSR/E1 FSR/E2
memmmmemmwmmmem------------------------------------------------------A x x x x
B x x x x x x
C x x x x x x
Agric. Econ. x x x x x x
Extension x x x x x x
Livestock x x
CIP: Crop Improvement Program, Species 1------------------------------------------------------CIP2: Crop Improvement Program, Species 2 CIP2: Crop Improvement Program, Species 2 IPM: Intergrated Pest Management Project
CRP1; Commodity Research Project, Species 1 CRP2: Commodity Research Project, Species 2
FSR/E1: FSR/E Project Target Area 1 FSR/E2: FSR/E Project Target Area 2
Merrill Sands, D. 1986. Farming systems research: clarification
of terms and concepts. Expl. Agric. 22:87-104.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE FARMING SYSTEM PROGRAM IN SRI LANKA
Sri lanka is essentially an agricultural country. A large proportion of its rural inhabitants are full time farmers. Agriculture is their way of life and in association with this way of life various land use patterns have developed in the different agro-ecological zones. The Wet Zone of Sri Lanka is well utilized under perennial plantation crops, for example tea, rubber and spices. In contrast, the Dry Zone, which occupies almost 65-75% of the total land area of the country, has unutilized potential for annual food crop production. Provided supplementary irrigation is available, the physical environment in the Dry Zone is ideal for intensive farming systems. Estimates of rainfall-confidence limits (Panabokke and Welgama, 1974)) have clearly demonstrated the importance of a source of supplementary irrigation if the potential for year round cropping is to be realized.
In the late 1960s the Agricultural Research Station at Maha Illuppallama, located in the Dry Zone, was given a mandate to conduct research on irrigated agriculture. This policy was associated with the initiation of the multi-million dollar Mahaweli Diversion Scheme which aimed to bring irrigation to a large area in the Dry Zone. It was at this juncture that the concept of intensive farming systems, or multiple cropping research, was introduced at the research station at Maha Illuppallama.
The research station was then challenged to find ways to utilize the available natural and physical resources in the environment to achieve maximum food production. In response to this challenge the multiple cropping research program was initiated at the Agricultural Research Station at Maha Illuppallama in Maha 1969/70.
MULTIPLE CROPPING RESEARCH PROGRAM
Objectives and approach
The research program in multiple cropping was carried out on a 2 ha irrigated block of Reddish Brown Earth (alfisols). The objectives of the program were to:
Deputy Director (Research), Girundurukotte Regional Research Center
1. Identify the crops and crop varieties which could be
grown under irrigation for maximum production per unit area
per unit time.
2. Develop a sequential arrangement of promising crops into
a cropping pattern.
3. Conduct research on relay cropping, mixed cropping, and intercropping in order to increase the number of crops in a
given cropping pattern.
4. Evaluate new cropping patterns against those currently
Numerous cropping patterns were tested between 1969 and 1973. Three cropping patterns, outlined in Tables 1 and 2, demonstrate the approach used and the yields obtained.
Results and discussion
Tables 1 and 2 demonstrate how, with supplementary
irrigation, the Dry Zone can produce four to five crops annually on the same plot of land. In order to accommodate a greater number of crops in a cropping calendar, time saving techniques such as relay cropping, mixed cropping and intercropping were tested. The time of planting and type of land preparation for each crop were considered very important for optimal performance. For example, a flatbottomed furrow for rice and a raised bed for groundnuts were critical for production in Haha.
Multiple cropping concepts and technologies were introduced in 1972/73 to the curriculum of the In Service Training (Agriculture) program of the Department of Agriculture (DOA). Extension officers from the DOA were trained and a series of demonstrations were conducted at district level by the Extension Service. The first international training program conducted by the DOA was also held at the In Service Training Institute (ISTI). The theme of the program was multiple cropping.
However, feed back from the Extension Service indicate d that the system demanded too many resources to be adopted by most farmers. Labor requirements, cost of inputs, need for timely supply of inputs, demand for machinery and implements in short supply, and inadequate markets all represented constraints to the adoption of the new cropping patterns.
Table 1. Three cropping patterns showing maturity time, dates of
planting, harvesting and system of land preparation.
Cropping Days to Date of Date of Land
pattern maturity planting harvesting preparation
Soybean 90 13 May 13 Aug
Okra 65 3 Aug 2,Oct
Rice 130 23 Sep 25 Jan
Chilli (dry) 120 25 Jan 25 May
Greengram 65 31 Jan 5 April
Tomatoes 90 20 June 20 Sep
Rice 90 21 Sep 25 Dec
Soybean 90 25 Dec 26 March
Capsicum 100 10 March 20 June
Beetroot 65 2 April 7 June
Bombay onions 90 9 May 9 Aug
Chilli (green) 90 15 May 15 Aug
Groundnut 100 15 Oct 27 Jan
Capsicum 120 30 Jan 30 May
Cabbage 65 30 Jan 5 April
CHANGE OF CONCEPT
In 1974 the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Banos, Philippines coordinated the national programs on multiple cropping in Southeast Asia. Many member countries encountered the same problems as Sri Lanka did in extending the research findings to farmers. It was unanimously accepted that the less resourceful farmers in the region cannot utilize and effectively manage the new technology unless material and cash inputs are provided by farm level organizations. Agricultural economists stressed the importance of integrating the naturally
available physical resources with the resources of farmers. Therefore a change in concept took place in the mid-1970s in the sphere of agriculture research on intensified cropping.
Table 2. Yields obtained from three cropping patterns
at the Maha Illuppallama Agricultural Research
Cropping pattern Yield (kg/ha)
Chilli (dry) 2,135
Bombay onion 11,692
Chilli (green) 7,316
Agricultural scientists recognized the influence of socioeconomic factors on the success of new technology; subsequently a cropping pattern was evaluated in terms of acceptability by a given community of farmers in a given production complex. It was recognized that the degree of acceptance of a certain package of practices was a function of the interaction between the farmer's resources and the new technology. Therefore, the term "management of resources for optimal performance" was accepted as the practical concept and was termed Cropping Systems.
Sri Lanka, as a member of the international network of Cropping Systems, started its national program on cropping systems in 1976 with a generous grant from the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada. The Cropping System Division at the Agricultural Research Station, Maha Illuppallama spearheaded an on-farm research project with the participation of farmers.
1. Evaluate improved crop varieties and develop a package
of practices appropriate for the production environment.
2. Design and test appropriate and productive cropping
patterns and evaluate their adoption by studying the impact
on farmers' production ystems.
3. Determine the water balance and hydrology of small
watersheds in relation to the needs of the total farming
4. Build a cadre of trained personnel for further cropping
system research and development in the country.
The basic method of study combined on-farm agronomic trials with the support of economic monitoring., Farmer cooperation with the researchers was an integral part of the study. Researchers tried to persuade farmers, but did not insist that they follow a proposed technology of crop production. The economic monitoring studies were designed to provide quantitative assessment of the constraints on crop production which were identified in the agronomic trials.
Program locations and activities
The program supported by IDRC concentrated exclusively on the rainfed and partially irrigated areas in the Dry and Intermediate Zones of Sri Lanka.
1. Dry Zone, Walageabahuwa: Minor tank development program,
partially irrigated system
It is estimated that the Dry zone has approximately
10,000 village tanks with a command area of 100-120,000 ha.
On-farm research in the Dry Zone was conducted at the
Walagambahuwa village tank.
a) Hydrology of minor tanks
The water for a village tank is supplied by
rainfall runoff from its catchment. The runoff is
influenced by the characteristics of the catchment. At
any given time the storage in the tank is related to
the total inflow less the total outflow. The total
outflow, or loss, consists of overflows from the spill,
irrigation supply through the sluice,9 deep seepage,
bund leakage and surface evaporation. What is basic in
the hydrology of a minor tank is the evaluation of the
inflow at a certain probability of rainfall. This
requires an estimate of the runoff coefficient for the
catchment for which a minimum of 5 years data is
needed. This would be a guide to the management of
water resources in the small tank environment.
b) On-farm trials
Numerous on-farm agronomic trials were conducted
during the period 1976-1978 in order to find answers to
some of the questions that were generated through
economic analysis and farmer performance. These trials
showed the importance of variety, time of cultivation,
application of basal fertilizer, proper weed control,
etc. Recommendations which required cash inputs, a scarce commodity, were resisted. Additional trials
were conducted in an effort to find alternative
solutions. The new technology developed from on-farm
research permitted double cropping of rice, which increased rice production five to six times. The
farmers' average yields more than doubled during the
period 1976-1980 (Table 3).
The Walagambahuwa program demonstrated that new
technology which does not impose additional material or cash requirements is more readily accepted by farmers. New varieties and top dressings of nitrogen are well accepted. It was more difficult to promote application of basal fertilizer, weedicides, and insecticides. An encouraging shift occurred in the allocation of labor for rice cultivation, with greater employment of family labor relative to hired labor.
Table 3. Rice production trends at Walagambahuwa,
Year Yield Production
1976 1290 38,770
1977 1548 46,440
1978* 3509 105,264
1979* 3973 119,196
1980* 4644 139,320
* double cropping
c) Dissemination of Walagambahuwa Concept
The Walagambahuwa concept was disseminated by its
introduction into the curriculum of the Maha
Illuppallama In Service Training Institute and pilot production programs. Ten tanks were involved in the
first program in 1978/79. The number of pilot programs
in the Kurunegala district increased to 180 in
1980/81. More than 160 tanks were cultivated under the program in Anuradhapura district in the same year.. In
1981/82 a minimum of 5-10 tanks came under this pilot production program in almost every district which has
2. Intermediate Zone, Katupota Project
The IDRC-funded cropping system program on rainfed lands in the Intermediate Zone was located at Katupota, Kurunegala District.
The background characteristics of the production environment are described in another paper of these proceedings.
Three different hydrological categories of soils, progressing down the slope of a catena, were identified: crest, slope and valley bottom. The soil moisture retention relationships are very different in each of these hydrological categories. Hence the following cropping patterns were designed:
Land Class Cropping Pattern
Crest Rice + subsidiary food crops
Slope Rice + rice (short age)
Valley bottom Rice + rice
Soil problems, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen deficiencies, appeared to be a significant management constraint. The rice varietal evaluation program demonstrated the importance of proper age class for different soil elements. The 75-day variety BG 750 fits well on the slope area. Highland crops such as greengram, cowpea, sweet corn, tomato, groundnut and red onion performed well on the crest area.
Pilot demonstrations based on findings at Katupota began in 1982.
REORGANIZATION OF THE CROPPING SYSTEMS NETWORK AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
Since the first meeting of the Cropping Systems Working Group was hosted by Sri Lanka in December 1977, the Sri Lanka Cropping Systems Program has strengthened its economic component and expanded the number of sites and staff actively involved in cropping systems work. In the process, the program has gained an insight into how technology must adapt to variations in local physical environments.
In 1977 the Economic Division of the DOt into how technology must adapt to variations in local physical environments.
In 1977 the Economic Division of the DOt into how technology must adapt to variations in local physical environments.
In 1977 the Economic Division of the DOt into how technology must adapt to variations in local physical environments.
In 1977 the Economic Division of the DOA assumed
responsibility for the economic component of the expanded cropping system network. The senior Economist at headquarters in Peradeniya assigned Economic Assistants to most experimental stations to help in cropping systems economic studies.
Under the expanded Cropping Systems Program research work continued at the Walagambahuwa and Katupota projects, began or intensified at Paranthan and Mannar in the north, Bandarawela in the up-country Intermediate Zone and Angunakolapelessa in the south. The work begun in 1977 at Kattiyawa has shifted to Galnewa in order to evaluate the Mahaweli Project.
Since each project site represents a significantly different physical environment as well as a different socio-economic setting, each location has had to develop its own objectives and method of operation. This has allowed concentration on locationspecific problems within the overall program objective of intensifying crop production.
The programs in the Mahaweli area near Galnewa, at
Paranthan, Mannar, and Bandarawela were supported by USAID from 1977. IDRC continued to finance the work at Walagambahuwa and Katupota.
The diversion of Mahaweli water to the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka is expected to stabilize agricultural production, increase cropping intensity, and permit the introduction of high value cash crops to improve welfare and social benefits of farmers. One hectare of irrigable land is allocated to each farm family for the production of rice and subsidiary food crops and 0.2 ha of highland as homestead. The irrigable land is expected to generate an adequate and stable income for the settler families.
Promising cropping patterns and cropping calendars were tested in farmers' fields under the on-farm cropping system concept described previously in this paper. Rice varieties were evaluated; subsidiary food crops were tested. Methods of cultivation, fertilizer application, insect and pest management practices were developed, in addition to alternative methods of weed control.
Although promising solutions were developed, the following constraints which were identified in the production process, still prevented the realization of the full potential of these/ improvements:
1. Tillage and draft power
2. Weed management
3. Poor resource base
4. Inefficient infrastructures and institutions
5. Water Management
6. Marketing systems
Research to address these constraints was included in the Cropping Systems Project at Galnewa.
This project concentrates on developing the rainfed
northeastern coastal belt in the northern Dry Zone, an area which is traditionally referred to as Manawari lands. Development will be achieved either by increasing the intensity of crop production or by increasing the yield of rice during the Maha Season.
Kandawalai in the main Manawari area, and Thatuwanketti in the saline area were selected as sites for on-farm trials. The objectives of the agronomic trials were to:
1. Increase the cropping intensity of Manawari lands by
including a second crop after rice,
2. Increase the yield of rice by providing a set of component technologies for Manawari rice cultivation.
On-farm trials, using direct seeding of rice, were conducted to evaluate rice varieties, fertilizer application, and weed control methods. An assessment was made of a series of subsidiary food crops planted immediately after harvest of the rice crop, using residual moisture from rice cultivation. Economic monitoring was done.
The general cropping system in the area is a unique
combination of Maha rice below the tanks, followed by Yala rice within the tank beds, double cropping of rice under tube wells, ination of Maha rice below the tanks, followed by Yala rice
within the tank beds, double cropping of rice under tube wells,
and a single Maha rice crop in the Vertisol area.
The objectives of the program are to:
1. Grow deep water rice in the tanks during Maha and upland
crops below the tank during Yala in the tank environment.
2. Determine the means of growing other field crops in Yala
to avoid salinity build-up in wells.
3. Evaluate salinity tolerant rice cultivars in the
Vertisols and saline areas.
This project is at Idama in the up-country Intermediate Zone. Agricultural production is fairly intensive, using traditional methods.
Rice is the fundamental component of the cropping system in this region. Diurnal fluctuations in temperature associated with high altitude limit 1 component of the cropping system in this region. Diurnal fluctuations in temperature associated with high altitude limit the cultivation of rice to one season. However 4,500 ha of rice land have an assured year-round supply of irrigation water, permitting the production of other crops following the harvesting of rice.
One of the prime objectives of the cropping systems program was to develop and promote short-age rice varieties with high yield potential, which could be followed by cash crops grown under optimal environmental conditions.
The short-age (3 1/2 month) varieties have shown promise over the traditional 4-4 1/2 month varieties. The correct time of planting with a suitable 3 1/2 month variety was a breakthrough in rice production in the complex. The early maturing varieties gave farmers 4 additional weeks for production of vegetable crops such as potatoes. Studies done to determine appropriate vegetables to follow rice were very encouraging.
The cropping system activities at Bandarawela clearly
indicate the possibility of increasing the productivity of the rice lands in the production complex through a proper mix of rice with potatoes and vegetables.
Panabokke, D.R. and A. Welgama. 1974. Trop. Agr., Sri Lanka, 2(2): 95-113.
COORDINATION AND FUNCTIONING
OF THE CROPPING SYSTEMS PROGRAM IN SRI LANKA
The Cropping Systems Program was initiated in 1976 in two agro-ecological zones, the Dry Zone and the Intermediate Zone. The program developed through three phases.
Phase I concentrated on clearly identified problems in the two climatic zones and attempted to find solutions by conducting on-farm research. It was assumed that suitable technology packages could be developed on the basis of information available from research done both locally and abroad. During this phase, the critical steps of the Cropping Systems methodology were recognized and their usefulness established. It was also during this phase, and largely due to Sri Lanka's efforts, that the concept of a network of Asian countries working toward a common goal took firm root.
Phase II was the consolidation phase. Multilocation tests
were undertaken for those cropping patterns which had been tested and appeared to have farmer acceptance. The cropping strategy developed at Walagambahuwa received wide publicity and pilot production programs were carried out in numerous minor tanks in the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala districts. These were spearheaded by the Extension Division with backing from the District Development Councils. A major outcome of the Walagambahuwa studies was the Government's decision to rehabilitate a large number of neglected minor tanks under the World Bank-funded Integrated Rural Development Project in the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala districts.
In the 1980s, the Department of Agriculture (DOA) organized research on a regional basis. Cropping Systems research was then extended to Kilinochchi in the North, to Bandarawela in the Intermediate Zone hill country, and to Angunakolapelessa in the southern Dry Zone. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the program at these locations in the form of equipment and short-term training. The USAID project ended in 1982, and the consequent shortage of operational funds impeded progress at these new locations.
In order to revitalize the already initiated cropping
systems research and to expand the program to other locations, proposals for extension of Phase II into a Phase III were
Deputy Director (Research), Maha Illuppallama Regional Research
submitted to the International Development Research Center (IDRC). Given that a substantial body of information was generated during the 3-4 years of research at the regional locations, a major emphasis of Phase III was to disseminate to farmers the potentially viable production systems already developed. Multilocation testing and pilot production programs were therefore important tasks during Phase III. Pilot production programs were planned in Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, 4andarawela and Kilinochchi districts.
Another important goal during this phase was to strengthen research at all Regional Research Centers (RRCs). Studies focused on sustained and increased farm profitability. More operational funds were to be made available to researchers and, where necessary, additional staffing was to be provided. Plans were also made to train as many as possible of the mid-level workers in Cropping Systems methodology. During Phase III research activities were planned at two new locations, Karadian Aru in the Eastern Province and at Murukkan, a substation of Kilinochchi RRC. Table 1 lists the regional locations where cropping systems research was conducted during Phase III.
Table 1. A description of the six regional cropping
----------------------------------------------------Location Zone Agro-ecological
-----------------------------------------------------Kilinochchi Dry Zone DL3 DL4 *
Maha Illuppallama Dry Zone DL1
Karadian Aru Dry Zone DL2
Makandura Intermediate Zone ILl IL3 **
Bandarawela Intermediate Zone IU3 ***
Angunakolapelessa Dry Zone DLI DL5
* Dry Zone, Low Country
** Intermediate Zone, Low Country
*** Intermediate Zone, Up Country
Objctiesof Phase III
1. Extend new cropping patterns by initiating pilot
production programs in areas where new technologies had
already been developed and tested.
2. Develop component technology for potential cropping
patterns in new locations.
3. Where appropriate, undertake studies to compare new,
more intensive cropping patterns with existing less intensive patterns with respect to crop performance,
chemical properties of the soil, and sustainability of the
4. Assess the economic viability and profitability of the
new cropping patterns.
5. Assess resource utilization patterns, productivity and
cost of cultivation of individual crops in different
6. Build a corps of trained and experienced personnel for
cropping systems research and development.
CROPPING SYSTEMS RESEARCH PROGRAM
The Cropping Systems Program was given a two-tiered
structure, one at the national level and one at the regional level (Figure 1). At the national level the program is under the Deputy Director Research with assistance from the National Coordinator,
There are seven regional research centers located in the different agro-ecological regions. Regional centers are discipline oriented, and the regional cropping systems research program comes under the purview of each region's Deputy Director. The National Coordinator and regional Cropping Systems teams closely collaborate to develop each regional cropping systems research program. The regional team normally consists of an agronomist and an economist. Staffing patterns in the regions are shown in Figure 2.
The methodology adopted in Sri Lanka is essentially similar to the On-Farm Cropping Systems Research Methodology developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Director of Agriculture
Deputy Director Research
National Co-ordinator National Economist National Team
Regional level (7 regions)
National Co-ordinator Reg. Deputy Director Res. Asst. Director Agric. (Ext)
Agronomist + Economis Regional Team
Field Assistant + Asst. Economist _J Exten. Agent
Formal two way flow
Informal two way flow
Figure 1. The operational structure of the Cropping Systems Program in Sri Lanka, 1985.
KILINOCHCHI KARADIAN ARU MAKANDURA BANDARAWELA MAHA ILLUPPALLAMA ANGUNAKOLAPELESSA
R.O. R.O. E.O. R.O. R.O. R.O.
I I I I
A. I. R.A. E.O. A..
I I I AII
4 F.A. 2F.A. 2F.A. 2F.A. 3F.A. 2F. A.
A. 1. Agricultural Instructor E.O. Experimentaol Officer F. A. Field Assistants R. A. Research Assistant
R.O 0. Research Officer
Figure 2. The Staffing Pattern of the Agronomy Component in the Regional Cropping Systems Program, 1985.
At the regional level, emphasis is first placed on identifying areas where potential exists for crop intensification. Then by working, in farmers' fields, techniques are developed for increasing crop production or cropping intensity. An important area of activity of on-farm studies is the evaluation of social and economic constraints, as well as bio-physical constraints which inhibit the introduction of an extra crop or limit attainment of optimum yields. This has been one of the weakest areas of the program because the much needed coordination and team work has been difficult to achieve due to lack of staff in certain locations or the economist having too heavy a work load.
Agronomic activities have been organized in two ways. The first method is for the coordinator to visit the region before the start of field work every season and formulate the research, program with the research officer concerned. The regional economist takes part in these discussions. The program is then reviewed with the Deputy Director of the region. During the season the coordinator visits the field trials at least once and after the results are analyzed a research paper is prepared. A copy of the paper is submitted to the coordinator who then prepares an annual technical report.
The second method of organizing agronomic activities and one which has become somewhat institutionalized, is to have an annual workshop. During the workshop, which is attended by all Cropping Systems staff, the following matters are discussed:
1. Review of Ma ha and Yala research programs of the
2. Presentation of the research programs for the coming
Maha and Yala seasons,
3. Budgetary requirements for the coming year,
4. Training needs,
5. Other matters.
Experience has shown that an annual review with frequent field visits is the most effective way to coordinate the different programs.
In addition to the annual review, the Cropping Systems Project also initiated a biannual National Cropping Systems Workshop. During this workshop, research conducted during the past 2 years are presented in a manner suitable for publication.
OUTSIDE INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT FOR CROPPING SYSTEMS RESEARCH IN SRI LANKA
Through the Asian Farming Systems Network, IRRI has
contributed enormously to strengthening the country's cropping systems program. Over the years IRRI has provided the following support services:
1. Training in cropping systems methodology and research.
During the last 2 years, four scientists were trained in a
6-month cropping systems course, one in a 4-month upland
rice production course and two in a 2-month economic course.
2. Symposia, study tours, and working group meetings for
information exchange and planning to which local cropping
systems personnel are invited.
3. Supply of plant material and improved cultivars.
4. Distribution of publications and relevant documents on
cropping systems research.
The cropping systems program in Sri Lanka, from its
inception, has been generously supported by grants from IDRC. Support has been given for postgraduate and non-degree training, as well as for equipment and vehicle purchase, and operational expenses for the conduct of research. Their support has helped to develop a dynamic, island-wide program.
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH-AT THE
REGIONAL RESEARCH CENTERS
FARMING SYSTEM APPROACH TO RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
IN THE LOW COUNTRY 'WET ZONE OF SRI LANKA
The low country Wet Zone is comprised of the lands below 300 m which receive an annual rainfall of over 1500 mm. The total cultivated land in this zone is about 865,000 ha. The landscape varies from hilly to rolling in the interior to undulating and flat in the coastal region. Rainfall distribution follows a bimodal pattern. High intensity showers are a common feature, resulting in severe soil erosion in the highlands and flash flooding in the lowlands. Rain is the main source of water and is the dominant climatic factor that determines both seasonality and productivity of crops in the region.
There is a great diversity of land use in the region.' Highlands are predominantly utilized, for the production of plantation crops, tea, rubber and coconut. A very small fraction is under fruits, vegetables and minor export crops. Because of the high population density a fair extent of land is occupied by homesteads. The lowlands are almost exclusively utilized for rice cultivation.
A number of major townships, including the capital, is
within this zone which i 's the most densely populated area in Sri Lanka. Tourism and industry is concentrated in this area. Availability of market outlets are greatest in this region. Opportunities for investment and alternative employment are quite substantial.
The low country Wet Zone is already extensively exploited and further increases in productivity will depend heavily on improving the production of existing crops, increasing cropping intensity, and diversification of land use. Except in the coastal flood plains opportunities exist to improve rice yields.
FARM TYPES IN THE LOW COUNTRY WET ZONE
The total number of farms in the low country Wet Zone is
estimated to be 655,111, covering a land area of 0.72 million ha. This accounts for 40% of the total number of farms and 30% of total cultivated land in Sri Lanka. The average size of farm is
Deputy Director (Research), Bombuwela Regional Research Center
The 1973 Agricultural Census Report identified the following three categories of farms, which included seven physical farm types (Herath, Abeyratne and Bandaranayake, 1980). Three components in a single farm
1. Lowland (LL) paddy
Home garden (HG) mixed crops
Highland (HL) tea, rubber or coconut Two components in a single farm
2. Lowland (paddy) + highland (tea, rubber-or coconut)
3. Lowland (paddy) + homegarden (mixed crops)
4. Highland (tea, rubber or coconut) + homegarden (mixed crops) Single component farm
5. Lowland only (paddy)
6. Highland only (tea, rubber or coconut)
7. Homegarden only (mixed crops)
Of the seven types, single component farms predominate (almost 60%) and the homegarden is the most important individual component. The degree of fragmentation varies with the physical farm type and is highest in the single component farms (Table 1).
Table 1. The percentage distribution and average size of
holding of the different categories of farms in the low
country Wet Zone (computed from the data of Herath,
Abeyratne and Bandaranayake, 1980).
Farm type Percentage of Average size
LL + HG + HL 13.6 1.97
LL + HL 2.1 2.34
LL + HG 13.7 0.75
HL + HG 10.2 1.08
LL only 2.2 0.50
HL only 3.5 1.60
HG only 54.8 0.24
The 1973 Agricultural Census also reports information on livestock integration. Approximately 24% of the total number of farms have livestock. Animals are raised for home consumption, home consumption and sale, and for tillage and transport. Nineteen percent of the single component farms have livestock, while two and three component farms have 28% and 35% respectively.
The distribution of farms with livestock appears to be closely related to the physical type of farm. Thus, approximately 66% of the farms with livestock are in the two component and three component categories. The homegarden plays an important role in livestock production. The practice of keeping livestock is also closely related to religious and ethnic types, being raised more frequently on farms owned by Tamils, Muslims and Christians.
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH IN THE REGION
Much of the current research work is of an applied nature to generate technology appropriate to different agro-ecological environments in the region. The work emphasizes the-development of varieties and management packages for specific situations. The process of technology generation, verification and modification is effected through a well defined three-stage system:
1. Station research Regional Research Center
2. Regional testing sub-stations and farmers' fields
3. Adaptive research farmers fields' (farmer managed)
In this total research process a fairly effective
interaction between researcher/extension worker/farmer is realized. This facilitates farmer acceptance of the new technology.
The above research methodology is perhaps not fully aligned with the concept of the farming systems approach to research and extension.' It includes certain aspects of component research in relation to a farming system but the study of the system as a farming unit does not receive much consideration. The impact of livestock integration is overlooked. The involvement of socioeconomists is minimal and very little economic evaluation of different farming systems is done.
The proportion of full-time farmers in the region is small in comparison to that of the Dry or Intermediate Zones. However, the possibility exists to increase the productivity of the different farm components, lowland, highland and homegarden. The goal of current research activities is to increase productivity in the lowland component. Future work needs to put heavy emphasis on the highland and homegarden components. Coconut lands, the homegarden and livestock integration are recommended for consideration.
PROPOSALS FOR FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH
It is proposed to establish an interdisciplinary and interinstitutional approach to research with the following objectives:
1. Obtain sound knowledge of the existing farming systems
and the socio-economic environments.
2. Conduct applied research that is relevant to the
circumstances and to respond to farmers' needs.
3. Identify soil farm management and production practices
that will overcome constraints.
4. Increase production and income of the farmers to make
farming an attractive occupation.
To achieve these objectives the following activities are recommended:
1. Baseline data collection and analysis
2. Identification and evaluation of soil and land
3. Land and soil management
4. Cropping systems and crop diversification
5. Integrated farming
6. Homestead development
Herath, L., F. Abeyratne and N. Bandaranayake. 1980. Structure
of small farms in Sri Lanka with special reference to
crop/livestock integration. Food and Agriculture Organization, PPHCA, NCF Consultancy Reports 1,11.
SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR FARMING SYSTEM RESEARCH
IN THE MID-COUNTRY WET ZONE OF SRI LANKA
The ultimate objective of Farming System Research (FSR) is to increase small farm productivity and income through the development of appropriate technology for each farming situation. To achieve this goal research must take into consideration the biological, physical and socio-economic environment of different farming systems. Therefore it is essential that research, extension, and other personnel involved in agricultural activities participate with farmers in developing packages of practices acceptable to them. This will help to increase farm productivity by testing and comparing the new technologies developed by the research stations with farm practices.
This paper discusses the existing farming systems which are within the purview of the Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) of the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CAR1) at Gannoruwa, Peradeniya.
AGRO-ECOLOGY OF THE REGION
The mid-country Wet Zone is in the administrative districts of Kandy, Kegalle, Matale and part of Nuwara Eliya. It has 13 distinctive agro-ecological areas in which the physical environments are sufficiently diverse to cause major differences in agriculture. The farming conditions and associated problems result from a wide range of elevations, rainfall regimes, and soils.
Elevations of this region range from 1000 to 3000 ft with an annual rainfall of 70-125 in. The soils are mainly Red-Brown Latosolic, Immature Brown and Red-Yellow Podsolic. The region generally does not suffer from water shortages. Extensive soil erosion can occur in the steeply dissected and rolling topography if adequate conservation methods are not practised.
Deputy Director (Research), Central Agricultural Research Institute,
AGRICULTURE OF THE REGION
The majority of the agricultural lands in this region are under permanent crops such as tea, rubber, coconut and minor export crops (Table 1). Semi-permanent crops like banana are also grown (Table 2). These crops are grown on hill slopes, with the steep hill tops left untouched for conservation reasons.
The agro-ecology of the region restricts crop production to valley bottoms, where most seasonal and annual food crops are grown under rainfed conditions and a few under minor and major irrigation schemes (Table 3). The major crops are rice, vegetables, chillies, yams and tubers. Greengram, cowpea, soybean, chillies and onions are also grown in the drier parts of this region. Tables 4 and 5 show, respectively, the total extent of rice land in the region and the percentage distribution of different age classes of rice.
Cropping patterns practised in this region are shown in
Table 6. Under rainfed conditions a rice rice cropping pattern is practised if the rainfall in both seasons is adequate. Rice is followed by vegetables if Yala rains fail. In the lower elevations of the highlands extensive cultivation Is risky due to soil erosion. In this situation farmers grow semi-permanent crops like bananas, permanent crops falling within the category of minor export crops, horticultural (fruit) crops, and timber.
The average farm holding is extremely small (0.6-1.00 ha) in this region where the majority of the population is rural (Table 7,8). Land preparation in most of these holdings is done manually or by buffalos and the use of tractors is negligible (Table 9).
The use of animals for farm power is another important feature of agriculture in the region. A sizable number of holdings have livestock (Table 10) and the animal population is increasing (Table 11). Animals may be used for power, milk production and as a source of manure for increasing soil productivity (Table 12).
AGRICULTURAL FACILITIES IN THE REGION
The Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) at
Gannoruwa, Peradeniya serves as the Regional Research Center, in addition to performing certain centralized functions for the entire country. It conducts research in agronomy, chemistry, entomology, pathology, horticulture and food science. Attached to the institute are three Adaptive Research Units (ARUs) for testing the new technologies developed by CARI in farmers' fields.
Agricultural extension activities are under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Director of Agriculture and his staff in each of the districts. Facilities for training agricultural workers-in74
service and others are available at the In Service Training Institute.
The Department of Minor Export Crops (MEC) and the
Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) have their own centralized facilities in Peradeniya for research, extension, education and training.
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH
For the past 10 years the Department of Agriculture (DOA) has been involved in Cropping Systems Research (CSR), with the Maha Illuppallama Regional Research Center being most active in this type of research. Cropping systems research can be regarded as an integrated form of research, as it encompasses research not only on crops but in areas such as pest control, varietal evaluation, agronomy etc., within any given cropping pattern.
Studies on cropping patterns have evolved into FSR which considers additional components such as perennials, livestock, fish and other activities of farmers in any given situation. Therefore, FSR is-much more complex than CSR, due to its emphasis on involvement of farmers who have variable levels of resources and different responses, even within the same agro-ecological zone.
In the past, CAR1 has not been involved in either CSR or FSR, but technologies were developed, chiefly as separate components (e.g. fertilizer levels, pest control methods, varietal testing) which apply to a specific factor of production. Most of the technology developed is tested in farmers' fields as CAR1 does not have land representative of the region and its ARUs are not fully functional. The institute is also involved in numerous research problems posed by the Extension staff at the meetings of the RTWG and monthly Research/Extension dialogues.
The development of acceptable new technologies under FSR
requires team work between the Research and Extension officers of the DOA and the farmers. In the context of farming systems in the mid-country Wet Zone, research should also involve officers of the departments of MEC and DAPH, as minor export crops and animals are integral components of the system.
Recommendations to develop FSR programs
1. Provide a strong data base on existing farming systems.
2. Encourage and strengthen RRCs to develop
3. Strengthen ARUs.
4. Train extension staff at all levels on farming systems
5. Train extension staff in identification of farm
6. Involve socio-economists in development of FSR/E
7. Promote interaction between the personnel of DOA, NEC,
DAPH and other relevant organizations.
8. Unify the extension service.
Table 1. Minor export crops (ha) grown in four districts of the midcountry Wet Zone.
Crop Matale Kandy Kegalle Nuwara Eliya
Cocoa 6120 4365 270
Coffee 890 1640 2054 2520
Cloves 350 1620 676 168
Nutmeg 98 1589 15
Cinnamon 150 92
Cardamon 2057 2590 802 171
Pepper 4350 1476 107 150
TOTAL 14,090 13,280 4016 3009
Table 2. Common semi-permanent crops (ha) grown in four
districts of the mid-country Wet Zone.
Crop Kegalle Kandy Matale Nuwara Eliya
Passion fruit 12 15
Banana 8148 2550 2100 47
Table 3. Land utilization pattern (ha) in four districts of the midcountry Wet Zone.
---------------------------------------------------------------Kegalle Kandy Matale Nuwara
----------------------------------------------------------------Land area 166,277 215,794 199,526 143,722
- Total 133,255 147,600 75,620 68,700
- Unused 2,178 4,162 1,745 1,537
Permanent crops 108,794 111,102 43,682 44,294
- Irrigated 185
- Rainfed 11,308 12,019 14,839 14,535
- Major scheme 4,000 4,182 1,582
- Minor scheme 3,023 8,500 8,000 6,253
Rainfed lowland 8,390 7,796 3,120 264
Table 4. Extent (ha) of asweddumized rice lands in four
districts of the mid-country Wet Zone.
District Major Minor Rainfed Total
Kegalle 3023 8390 11,413
Kandy 4000 8500 7796 20,296
Matale 4182 8000 3120 15,302
Nuwara-Eliya 1582 6253 264 8,099
Table 5. Distribution pattern (%) of four age classes of rice in
3 3 1/2 4 1/2 6 month
District month month month sensitive
Kegalle 24.5 67.5 7.5 0.5
Kandy 22.5 36.9 40.3 0.3
Matale 54.4 7.7 37.6 0.3
Nuwara Eliya 5.5 27.5 67.0
Table 6. Major upland and lowland cropping patterns in four districts
of the mid-country Wet Zone.
District Season Lowland Upland
Kegalle Maha Rice (3-3 1/2 mo) Banana, major
Yala Rice (3 mo) export crops
Kandy Maha Rice (3 1/2-4-4 1/2 mo),
Kurakkan, vegetables Fruits, major
Yala Rice (3-3 1/2mo), export crops
Matale Maha Rice 3 1/2-4 1/2 mo),
tobacco, gingelly, Fruits,
Yala Rice (3mo), export crops
Table 7. Human population ('000) by sector of three districts in the
mid-country Wet Zone (1981).
------------------------------------- -------------------Urban Rural Estate
District Total ------------- ------------- ------Total % Total % Total %
------------------------------------------------------------Kandy 1226.3 147.4 13.1 848.4 75.3 130.5 11.6
Kegalle 682.4 53.5 7.8 566.7 83.0 62.2 9.2
Matale 357.4 37.9 10.6 289.1 80.9 30.5 8.5
---------------------------------------------------------------Table 8. Number, area and average size (acres) of operational small
holdings in three districts of the mid-country Wet Zone and for
------------------------------------------------------------District Number Area Average
---------------------------------------------------------------Kandy 107,540 160,300 1.49
Matale 50,360 111,900 2.22
Kegalle 97,530 158,590 1.63
Sri Lanka 1,798,970 3,493,160 1.94
Table 9. Farm power used for preparation of paddy land in three
districts of the mid-country Wet Zone.
Sown Manual Buffalo Tractor
District Extent ------------- --------------- -----------No. % No. % No. %
1982 28,268 4,210 14.9 23,826 84.3 232 0.8
1983 28,659 3,952 13.8 24,038 83.9 269 0.9
1984 28,066 4,238 15.1 23,230 82.8 598 2.1
1982 47,055 8,648 18.4 38,318 81.4 89 0.2
1983 51,855 11,542 22.2 40,076 77.2 237 0.5
1984 49,914 12,244 24.5 37,514 75.2 156 0.3
1982 34,935 4,088 11.7 28,274 80.9 2,573 7.4
1983 38,809 1,776 4.6 25,419 65.5 11,614 29.9
1984 40,412 1,184 2.9 27,913 69.1 11,315 28.0
1982 27,710 4,305 14.6 23,391 84.4 284 1.0
1983 18,238 3,065 16.8 14,800 81.2 373 2.0
1982 36,519 7,827 21.4 28,593 78.3 99 0.3
1984 37,035 6,190 16.7 28,202 76.2 2,643 7.1
1982 10,510 1,838 17.5 7,924 74.4 748 7.1
1983 8,333 968 11.6 6,498 78.0 867 10.4
1984 18,124 1,909 10.5 12,767 70.4 3,448 19.0
Table 10: Number, type and area of operational small holdings in three districts.
All holdings Crops and Crops only Livestock only
No. Area No. Area No. Area No. Area
Kandy 107540 160300 37040 70890 68080 87340 2420 2070
Kegalle 97530 158590 28290 58050 68170 100180 1070 360
Matale 50360 111900 17920 50230 31820 61100 620 570
Table 11. Livestock population of small holdings in four districts
and in the country.
District ------------------ -------------------1973 1982 1973 1982
Kandy 34,727 39,625 19,697 23,592
Matale 23,025 35,187 14,827 28,270
Kegalle 18,065 21,783 18,016 22,005
Sri Lanka 987,003 1,308,016 381,016 562,297
Table 12. Annual milk collection ('000 litres) by region,
National Milk Board.
Year Hill country Mid-country Dry Zone
1970 11,854 6,795 1,695
1975 16,536 13,376 7,992
1980 21,977 18,662 9,418
1982 19,021 14,663 12,310
FARMING SYSTEMS APPROACH TO RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
AT MAKANDURA REGIONAL. RESEARCH CENTER: CONCEPT AND PRACTICAL USE
B.S. Raphael, H. Somapala and H. Amarasena
The Regional Research Center (RRC), Makandura, serves the agricultural research needs of Kurunegala, Puttalam and part of Gampaha districts. Most of this area is in the agro-ecological regions of ILl, IL2, DL1, DL3 and WL3.
The major crops in the area are coconut and rice. Hence, the existing cropping pattern is either rice- or coconut-based.
A rice-based farming systems research project, begun by the Makandura RRC at Katupota in the late 1970s, is continuing. Katupota is located in Kurunegala district, near the boundary of the ILl and IL3 agro-ecological regions. Location-specific minor environmental variations limit application of the results to the northern half of ILl and the southern half of IL3 regions. In Katupota, rice is grown in Maha and during Yala the land is left fallow or a second crop of rice is attempted if there are early rains. This cultivation frequently fails, especially on the crest and mid-slope of the catena.
The research program conducted during the late 1970s and early 1980s was designed to increase farmer income through the development of improved cropping patterns, cultural and fertilizer practices. To study cropping systems in relation to land types, two tracts were selected at Katupota. The Alankara site included crest, mid-slope and valley land with a small catchement area. At Moragane, the tract is on a slope ending in a valley with a large catchement area.
The improved technology developed from the research program at Katupota was reported at the 14th Cropping Systems Working Group Meeting held in China in October, 1983 (Sikurajapathy, 1983) and at the National Cropping Systems Workshop, October 1984 (Amarasena and Vignarajah, unpublished). Some of the more important aspects of the improved technology are as follows:
1. The total variable cost of rice rice and rice
greengram cropping patterns were the same as the farmer
practice of a single crop of rice. Thus, improved
technology permitted more efficient use of the resources.
Research Officer, Makandura Regional Research Center
Deputy Director (Research), Makandura Regional Research Center
Experimental Officer, Adaptive Research Unit, Wariyapola
2. A cropping pattern of rice greengram gave the highest
marginal cost/benefit ratio i.e. the farmer received the highest additional return for each additional rupee spent.
3. At the Alankara tract, which had well defined crest,
mid-slope and valley land types, the rice rice cropping
pattern gave the highest returns in the valley. Rice
greengram, rice cowpea and rice groundnut patterns
produced additional income on crest and mid-slope land which
usually was left fallow in Yala season.
4. Intercropping greengram and groundnut with maize yielded
higher returns than greengram or groundnut alone.
5. The selection of suitable varieties, fertilizer
practices and time of planting for a particular land type
and season can produce additional cash benefits over farmer
Pilot production programs to demonstrate to farmers in other areas the technology developed in the two tracts at Katupota began in 1983. The first four pilot production sites were located in segments in Seruwawa, Bogahpitiya, Henegama and Paragaswewa, all in Kurunegala District. From 1984 to 1986 eight additional pilot production sites were established at Nikagolla, Manapaya, Palapathwela, Wanduressa, Hinguruwewa, Aluthugama, Wellegala and Paragaswewa.
All the pilot production sites had land types similar to the Alankara tract in Katupota, with a flat crest, mid-slope and valley. Most were rainfed, although a few were under minor irrigation tanks which did not provide enough water for Yala rice cultivation. Rice was grown in Maha and the land left fallow during Yala, particularly that on the crest and mid-slopes.
Suitable cropping patterns of rice greengram, rice
cowpea, and rice groundnut were demonstrated in Yala season. Varietal screening trials to select suitable varieties specific to different land types were also conducted.
In Maha, fertilizer trials using 25%, 50%. 75% and 100% of Department of Agriculture (DOA) recommendations were conducted, employing farmer practices, to identify more effective use of resources on different land types. Improved varieties specific to different land types were also demonstrated in comparison with farmer varieties.
Table 1 indicates that for crest and mid-slope land types, rice varieties BG 62-355 and 276-5 generally performed better than farmer varieties. Though varietal differences are not significant, tests indicated that there are better varieties than BG 62-355 for crest and mid-slope land types (Table 2). BG 62355 showed some susceptibility to lodging and blast. Though farmers do not use much fertilizer on the crest and mid-slopes because of the high risk involved, DOA recommendations generally
produce higher yields than farmer practice. Growing greengram or cowpea on the crest and mid-slope during Yala when these areas are normally left fallow would produce additional income (Table 3).
Table 1. Rice variety response (% of yield with farmers
practice) to full, 75% and 50% of DOA fertilizer
recommendation on three land types at three locations,
-------- ,---------------------------------------------------Level of fertilizer
Location Variety ---------------------100% 75% 50%
Wellegala BG 62-355 143.0 101.3
276-5 127.8 96.2
Hinguruwewa BG 62-355 129.8 110.5
Aluthagama BG 62-355 208.5 167.8
276-5 187.5 164.4
Wellegala BG 62-355 135.4 90.3
276-5 119.8 84.1
Hinguruwewa BG 62-355 103.6
276-5 109.1 102.3
Aluthagama BG 62-355 107.7 96.2
276-5 127.4 103.0
Wellegala BG 62-355 191.0
Hinguruwewa BG 62-355 78.5
Aluthagama BG 62-355 116.8
Tlable 2. Yield (kg/ha) of rice-varieties in response to land type
and three fertilizer levels, 50%, 75% and 100% of DOA
recommendations, Maha 1985/86.
-----------------------------------------------------------Level of fertilizer
Land type Variety -----------------------------100% 75% 50%
---------------------------------------------------------- -Crest BG 62-355 2388 2277
276-5 2666 2444
621-1 2222 1884
621-9 2555 2722
Mid-slope BG 62-355 3116 2722
276-5 3755 2738
621-9 3869 3010
---------------------- ------------------Least significant difference not significant
Table 3. Mean cost and return (Ra/ha) from two cropping systems on
crest and mid-slope at Nikagolla and Wandurasa tracts, Yala 1985.
--------- ------------------------------ ----Rice cowpea* Rice greengram**
---------------- ---------------------------------------- -Material cost
Fertilizer 27 243
Insecticide 365 278
Seed 255 315
Power and labor 1272 355
Miscellaneous 160 97
Total variable cost 2079 1288
Gross return 15,847 5064
Ratio return/cost 7.62 3.93
* Average of four farmers---------------------------------------------------* Average of fouthree farmers.
*Average of three farmers.
Sikurajapathy, M. 1983. Cropping Systems Programme: Sri lanka.
14th Cropping Systems Working Group. Sponsored by the
Chinese Academy of Agrricultural Science and the
International Rice Research Institute, Philippines. Oct.
25-29, 1983. Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science,
Beijing, China. pp. 408-443.