An approach to the organization of
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
PMB 5320, Oyo Road, Ibadan, Nigeria
OFR Bulletin No. 3 NOVEMBER 1985
An approach to the organization of
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
OFR Bulletin No. 3 NOVEMBER 1985
This document was initially written as a set of practical hints for an efficient organization of On-Farm Research (OFR) training
workshops, mainly for use by IITA trainers. As the demand for OFR
training is rising rapidly across the continent, we felt that other people and organizations could also benefit from our experiences and it was decided to produce them as a technical bulletin.
We wish to thank all those people who have contributed to this training "methodology" both as resource persons and as trainees. In particular the following persons must be mentioned for their contributions in one or more of in total five training workshops: Ors Susan Almy. Martha Gaudreau. Jim Jones. Susan Poats and Bill SchmehJL of the Farming Systems Support Project. University of Florida. USA, Drs. George Abalu and Neil Fisher of the Institute of Agricultural
Research. Zaria. Nigeria. Dr. Mamadou Diomande of OFRIC. Ivory Coast. Drs. Halik Ashraf. Peter Ay. Manny Palada and Wolfgang Vogel of IITA. Dr. Pascal Fotzo of the University Centre of Dschang, Cameroun and Dr. Kurt Steiner of GTZ, W. Germany.
The Ford Foundation is greatly acknowledged for its moral and financial support of IITA's On-Farm Research efforts.
A. S. R. Juo
Farming Systems Program.
Introduction ... ... ... ... 1
Objectives ... ... ... ... 1
Flow chart and time schedule ... 2
Preparations ... ... ... ... 8
Workshop scenario ... ... ... 12
Summary of materials required ... ... 37
Over the past few years we at IITA have organized several short in-country training workshops on methods of on-farm research (OFR) for scientists and development workers. We have drawn on these experiences to prepare this module in the hope that it will be useful for other trainers, particularly in Africa. It complements the "Field Guide for On-Farm Research" published simultaneously by IITA.
The "Field Guide" contains the body of the training materials, whereas this module describes how the material can best be offered to an audience of scientists and development workers. Most of t-he data sheets presented in this module can be found in the "Field Guide" in a broader context.
Workshops of 2 weeks' duration cannot adequately treat complex subjects. They are an introduction that should enable the
participants to grasp the underlying ideas and to develop those further in the context of their own work.
This document may at times seem overly prescriptive. This does not mean that we pretend to have the final wisdom on OFR training. The document just describes a formula that we have found workable and we wish to share.
The general objectives of the workshop are:
- To introduce the concepts and procedures of on-farm research
to researchers and development workers of at least M.Sc. level; and
- To demonstrate the OFR process in a real farming environment. The term "workshop" is used in its undiluted sense, meaning that the participants on a "laboratory" scale conduct the activities of OFR. OFR embraces:
a. Choosing a target area and a representative pilot research area; b. Collecting and analyzing existing information: c. Conducting an informal exploratory survey: d. Drawing up a list of priority constraints and opportunities
e. Choosing innovations for on-farm testing; f. Designing on-farm trials:
g. Conducting, analyzing and evaluating the innovations.
The workshop is concerned with b through f. which constitute the initial stage of OFR. The choice of a target and pilot research area
(a) can hardly be left to the participants, mainly for logistical reasons. The survey villages, therefore, are chosen by the h ost team. keeping in mind that the villages should be within 30 minutes' travel, from the workshop premises and that they should represent a reasonably homogeneous target area.
The execution, analysis and evaluation of trials, although the main menu of OFR, can only be treated in a sketchy manner and should be more fully addressed in a separate workshop. Such a workshop can be offered after the field workers have carried out the early phase in their own project and have started conducting on-farm tests. A module for the follow-up workshop will be available in future.
Formal presentations are kept to a minimum -- only what is required as guidance for the workshop. The basic concept is to help participants feel their way through the complexities of existing farming systems and to come up with innovative ideas of their own. The distinction between participants and "resource persons" should fade away in the course of this process.
Flow chart and time schedule
During the workshop, plenary sessions alternate with workgroup activities (Figure 1). The plenary sessions are to guide the workgroup process; they comprise:
- Lectures on key issues:
- Information on the next group activity; and
- Presentations and discussions on workgroup results. The workgroups simulate real OFR teams.
The schedule for the workshop (Table 1) allots times that we have found, to be adequate for the various activities.
Lectures on OFR concepts
Lectures on base data analysis
Preparation for base data analysis
Presentation of preliminary reports Analysis of base data;
preliminary report Lectures on exploratory surveying; Preparation for exploratory survey
Visits to experimental sites;
Preparation for choice of
Presentation of chosen innovations evalueaind ofeliinatiy
Lectures on trial design;
Preparation for trial design
Presentation of trial designs Design of on-farm trials
Evaluation of workshop
Fig. 1. Flow chart of workshop activities.
Table 1. Time schedule of workshop activities
Time Activity Mode
Chairperson: host institute'
0900-1000 Opening ceremony Plenary
Chairperson: Workshop Coordinator
1030-1100 Principles and concepts of OFR Lecture: plenary
1100-1130 Workshop aims and procedures Lecture: plenary
1130-1200 Discussion 1200-1230 Constitution of workgroups. Preparation:
self-introduction of participants plenary
1230-1400 Lunch 1400- Reconnaissance tour of the survey
BASE DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Chairperson: Resource person
0800-0930 Base data and their interpretation': Lectures and
the farm as a system discussion:
physical environment plenary
f farming systems
* factors of production
0930-1015 Presentation of available documents Preparation:
4 and guidelines for the analysis of plenary
1015-1030 Break 1030-1230 Analysis of base data: writing Workgroups
preliminary reports 1230-1400 Lunch 1400-1500 Presentation and discussion of Presentations and
preliminary reports discussion: plenary
1515-1600 Guidelines for exploratory surveying Lecture and discussion; plenary 1600-1730 Informal survey techniques (role play) Lecture and practice
1730-1800 Logistics of the survey Preparation;
1800-1830 Group planning for the survey Workgroups
DAY 3 DAY 5
0730-0800 Departure to survey villages Workgroups
0800-0830 Introductory meeting in village Workgroups
0830-1200 Field visits, interviews Workgroups
1200-1300 Round-up discussion in village Workgroups
1330-1500 Lunch 1500-1530 Evaluation of the survey process Discussion, plenary
1530- Group discussions on Workgroups
observations and results WRITING THE AREA REPORTS DAY 6
Chairperson: Resource person
0800-0900 Guidelines for writing the area reports Preparation: plenary
0900-1230 Report writing Workgroups
1230-1400 Lunch 1400-1800 Continue report writing Workqroups
DAY 7 FREE
0800-1200 Complete report; list constraints and Workgroups
Chairperson: Resource person
1400-1530 Presentation and discussion of Presentation and
area reports discussion; plenary
1530-1600 Break 1600-1730 Consolidation of constraints lists: Plenary
1730-1800 Guidelines for choosing innovations Preparation:
CHOICE OF INNOVATIONS
Day 9 Visits to experimental sites; Field trip:
presentations on "available presentations
Discussion of available technologies Workgroups Day 10 Chairperson: Resource person
0800-0900 Guidelines for preliminary evaluation Preparation:
of innovations plenary
0900-1230 Choice and preliminary evaluation Workgroups
of innovations 1230-1400 Lunch 1400-1500 Continue choice and preliminary Workgroups
evaluation of innovations 1530-1600 Break
1600-1800 Presentation and discussion of Presentations and
innovations and their preliminary discussion; plenary
Chairperson: Resource person
0800-0930 Design. monitoring and evaluation Lectures: plenary
of on-farm trials
0930-1000 Guidelines for trial design Preparation;
1000-1015 Break 1015-1230 Design of on-farm trials Workgroups
1400-1800 Continue design of on-farm trials Workgroups
Chairperson: Resource person
0800-1000 Presentation and discussion of trial Presentations and
designs discussion: plenary
1000-1030 Break 1030-1200 Presentation and discussion of host Presentation and
institute's OFR program discussion; plenary
1200-1300 Evaluation of workshop Plenary
Chairperson: host institute
1500-1600 Closing ceremony Plenary
This chapter and the following describe the activities and give recommendations for a smooth running of the workshop. The obvious logistics such as transport, food. accommodation. etc. are not discussed, although they are crucial.
A workshop of this kind often has a difficult start because the participants do not immediately grasp the objectives, despite
explanations. Logistic and technical provisions must be impeccable to minimize the initial frustration.
Administrative and Scientific Leadership
The leaders of the workshop should at least include:
A workshop coordinator (Preferably a member of the host
institution) who is in charge of all logistic and technical
- Two resource persons covering the agronomic and socio-economic
aspects, who share the scientific responsibility for the
The workshop leaders should meet at least once before the workshop.
List of Participants and Constitution of Workgroups
The composition of the workgroups needs to be carefully balanced. A full list of participants should be available before the workshop and should include each person's:
- Type of work (research. extension, administration):
- Nationality; and
The hosts should draw up a preliminary list of the workgroups
with each category equally represented in each group to the extent possible. Also, the persons with good knowledge of the local farming system and the resource persons should be divided between the groups. The number per group (participants and resource persons) should not exceed about 10 persons.
Each participant should be provided with a name tag, a folder containing a writing pa'o. a pen, a pencil (install pencil sharpener!). a pocket notebook and a simple clipboard. Also a copy of the workshop program, some general information on the host institution or project. a list of available documents on the survey area (see "Documentation") and a simple map or drawing, showing the location of the survey
villages. Finally, logistic information on accommodation, meals, laundry services, transport, etc. may be added. One or two sets of clean transparencies and felt pens are needed for use by resource persons and group rapporteurs during the plenary sessions.
For the field survey a few soil augers are useful. Worksheets are suggested for the workgroups' activities (Figures 2-4 and Tables 2-9) and should be available in sufficient numbers for distribution.
During the first 2 days the participants need documentation to compile a preliminary description of the area. The workshop leaders provide the documents since time does. ndt permit the participants to do so themselves as they would in a real situation. The documents should include:
- General works about the country's physical and socio-economic
environment, covering the target area (maps, atlases, soil maps.
textbooks etc.), a topographical map of the area showing the
location of the survey villages:
- Specific information on the target area, based on previous studies,
project feasibility studies, project reports, soil surveys,
socio-economic surveys, bureau of statistics publications. etc;
- Daily rainfall data covering at least 15 years for a station in or
close to the study area.
They should be available in the classroom. if possible in as many copies as there are workgroups (except the rainfall records);
otherwise the documents must be circulated among the groups. A list of the available documents and a brief description of their contents should be included in the workshop folder.
Preparations for the Field Survey
The field survey lasts for 3 days. After some trial-anderrur we have found that a workable plan is for each team to visit two different villages. one village on the first 2 days and the second one on the third day. Different teams should go to different villaqeS. Therefore, if there are three teams, six villages are
required. It is important that all the survey villages be
representative of a common "target area."
If the host institution's operations cover a large area where several quite different subareas can be distinguished (in terms of soil, ethnic groups, farming systems etc.). one more-or-less homogeneous subarea should be chosen; again, it should be close to the headquarters and include the required number of representative villages.
Discussions with the village authorities must begin well ahead of the workshop. They need to know what is being planned and why and how valuable their contribution is. They should be given details about the visit and its purpose (see section on "field survey"). Otherwise. the village chief may line up the notables in his house, with the result being a biased picture. Or the local extension agent may
preselect "contact farmers" who will try to impress the visitors with their adherence to extension messages. One way to minimize this type of bias is to ask the village chief to bring together as many villagers as possible. Then the teams can meet with everyone and invite a more-or-less random sample of individuals to accompany them to their fields. In a real exploratory survey, initial bias is not serious but in a workshop survey of only a few days it should be minimized.
Minimizing the bias is one reason that the teams should visit the first village on 2 successive days.
The host team should carefully consider the logistic requirements (vehicles!) to move several teams around the area.
Finally there must be an interpreter for each subteam. Local extension agents and participants who can speak the local language may be available in sufficient numbers. Otherwise, additional
interpreters can be sought in the area. e.g. unemployed secondary school leavers or "progressive farmers."
Workspaces and Facilities
Plenary sessions are held in a classroom with the tables and chairs in a circle or rectangle to encourage interaction between the participants. An overhead projector with screen is needed for the
lectures and a wide blackboard and/or a few flip charts with chalk and felt pens in several colors for the presentations by the workgroups.
The maximum number of participants per workgroup is about 10. The workgroups should meet in separate rooms, each room being provided with one or two flip charts and pens (one group can meet in the plenary classroom) and a means to display the sheets of the flip chart for easy overview (e.g. a rope with laundry pegs or wooden bars with drawing pins).
The participants need regular breaks of about 15 minutes and if at all possible should be provided with coffee and tea and some soft drinks. They are often quite sensitive to these seemingly small
matters that influence the general atmosphere, particularly in the beginning.
Clerical and Resource Support
Some secretarial support is needed to type and/or multiply documents at the spur of the moment. A stencil machine and a photocopier are an asset. The organizers however should have all the foreseeable clerical work done ahead of time.
Presentations by the Host Institute
The host institute is invited to make a presentation on:
-Day 1 to present and explain briefly the available documentation on the area, drawing on information from the project and from other
-The final day to explain its own OFR approach and results.
On day 9. after completion of the survey report, the participants visit experimental sites in the area, both on station and on farm if
possible. Local research staff can be invited to make brief presentations about the innovations they feel are appropriate and "ready to go" for the area. This day can be planned by the host institute
according to its members' views and possibilities.
Chairing of Sessions and Reporting
The chairperson for the plenary sessions is rotated among the workshop leaders unless the workgroups elect their own chairpersons.
Good reporting and regular collection of all the workgroup materials are crucial. Rapporteurs for the plenary sessions should be
members of the host team for easy editing of the workshop proceedings. In the workgroups, the reporting task is divided among the members. It is the workshop coordinator's task to collect all the report materials from plenary rapporteurs and workgroup chairpersons.
Registration. Registration of participants, handing out of the workshop folder and collecting airline tickets for later confirmation of return flight take place before the workshop is opened so that any adjustment in workgroup composition (because of nonarrivals or additional participants) can be made in advance.
Opening ceremony. Local and/or national authorities may be invited to perform the opening ceremony. The session can be chaired by one of the authorities or by the project leader.
Principles and concepts of OFR. Overview presentation by one of the resource persons.
Workshop aims and procedures. Participants must start with a clear picture of what they may expect, what is expected from them and what is the final product of the workshop. A resource person should very carefully explain the objectives and how these will be attained. A
flowchart (Figure 1) can be used to explain the succession of activities.
The final product is the group reports. containing a description of the. farming systems of the pilot area, the major constraints and opportunities and a small number of trials for on-farm testing of innovations.
From the onset the workshop leaders must avoid giving the impression that the workshop intends to criticize the host institution's work. The workshop is organized for the benefit of the trainees who
want to learn about the OFR process and to benefit from the inside knowledge of the host institution about farming in the study area.
Constitution of workgroups. The composition of the workgroups is
announced and participants are invited to introduce themselves.
Reconnaissance tour of the survey area. A short tour around the survey area is recommended with frequent stops to observe soils and crops. A soil scientist and/or an agronomist should be the guides on this preliminary tour.
Base data and their interpretation. The resource persons explain what the groups should be looking for in the available literature and Wow the data are to be presented (Table 2). The physical scientists can also report on their field observations during the reconnaissance tour. The preliminary report, resulting from the base data analysis should be set up in the same way as the final report, to be prepared after the field survey.
Presentation of available documents. A member of the host team briefly presents the survey area (map! ), reviews the available documents and indicates what can be found where.
First meeting of workgroups. Each workgroup should be assisted by at least one resource person. The workgroups appoint a chairperson and
diivide the subjects of the preliminary report (able 2) among the
A rainfall analysis using median and quartiles of~ 10-day rainfall totals (15-20 years) takes about half a day. This is best done by one resource person and a participantfrom one of the groups and explained later to the plenary session,
Analysis of base data. The time allotted to analyzing base data is quite limited and the groups should therefore report as concisely as possible. The salient points are written on flip charts for presentation to the plenary session.
Presentation and discussion of preliminary reports. A member of each group briefly presents the findings. The rainfall analysis and its implications are presented by one of the resource persons.
Guidelines for exploratory surveying. In preparation for the field survey, the resource persons explain the purpose and procedures of exploratory surveying. Sheets for data collection and checklists (Figure 2, Table 3) are distributed and briefly explained.
Each workgroup will act as a team during the survey and subsequent reporting and each team member should be clear as to his or her role. Although members should not narrow their observation s to their own field of specialization. they must take specific responsibility for the subjects that correspond with their discipline. A simple method is for each member to cover the same subjects, assigned during the base data analysis and make sure that they are adequately investigated during the survey. The checklist (Table 3) should give sufficient guidance.
Informal survey techniques (role play). A brief introduction to informal survey techniques followed by a role play by the participants is recommended. Half of the participants play the role of farmers and the others are interviewers. A few participants can be asked to
observe the process and report their observations after the play.
Table 2. Suggested contents of the report on the pilot research
general features of the area
Maps, administrative divisions. area, population. settlement pattern, ethnic groups. traditional hierarchy. religions.
The physical and biological environment
Evapotranspiration. rainfall regime. median and quartiles of rainfall. critical periods, temperature, humidity.
Land, soil and water
Land form. land types and associated soils with frequency of occurrence, texture and colour of top soil. soil depth, hardpans. water table heights. water storage capacity, chemical fertility.
The human environment and the r)hvsical infrastructure
Imports of capital goods. foodstuffs; agricultural exports; exchange rate policy, employment opportunities.
Institutional environment and services
Credit facilities; input supply services; extension services; marketing facilities.
Land tenure system, labor distribution by gender: community help; festivities.
Road conditions. availability of transport, markets. large scale storage. schools. water supply, electricity. medical services.
Cropping patterns and land use
Crops. cropping patterns and crop associations; utilization of land types; cropping patterns and fertility; fallow; products collected from the bush.
Characteristics of varieties
Cropping operations and groo calendar
Land preparation. planting. crop densities, manuring, harvesting. cropping calendars.
Inputs and yields
Source of seed and planting material; use of fertilizer and agro-chemicals; tools; crop yields. Crop disorders
Pests, diseases, weeds and their control; nutrient deficiencies. Post-harvest activities and consumption
Storage. processing, marketing: prices of farm products: nutritional habits, consumption. Livestock
Factors of production Land
Ownership and access to land, farm sizes Capital. capital goods and capital formation
Sources and utilization of cash; prices and purchase of inputs; cash flow profile; investment. Labor
Labor profile, division of labor, sources and cost of labor. Management and information
Educational level: farm management systems. Decision making and production choices
Gender roles in decision making; production choices (food, cash crops, livestock. non-farming activities). Analysis of farmers' conditions Constraints and opportunities Typology of farms and fields
Fig. 2. Field data form Record No:
Date, Field Name:
Farmer's name/age/gender: Crops owned by: Man/Woman
Distance from village: village:
1. Vegetation type (circle): dense forest, sparse forest, savanna
2. Crops (note early and late season crops, associations etc.
in Tables below)
Crops Planted this year (both seasons if appropriate) Date of
*Species Planting Harvest Inputs used
Crops planted since last fallow (start with last year) Date of
*Species Planting Harvest .Inputs used
Future crops and fallow
Species Planting Harvest .Inputs to be used.
3. Duration last fallow: Yrs Duration next fallow: Yrs
4. Major weeds:
5. Draw outline and Pace the field, indicate crop arrangements and
6. Place in the topography (circle):
Plain- crest -upper slope-middle slope-lower slope-valley bottom
7. Percentage slope: 1
Textural 1) Color Gravel Hardpan/rock
Topsoil (0-20 cm) Yes/No Yes/No
Subsoil (20-50 cm) Yes/No Yes/No
1S =Sandy: L Loamy: C Clayey.
Table 3. Checklist of information to be collected during the field
General features of the area
- ethnic groups, traditional hierachy, religions --x The physical and biological environment
- Farmers' perception of rainfall and
consequences for cropping-------------------------- x x
- Vegetation type (data sheet) Land. soil and water
- land form, land types, soils (data sheet)-----------x
- soil fertility------------------------------------- x
- seasonal availability of water--------------------------x
The human environment
- availability and origin of items not produced
locally (market visits)
- urban migration----------------------------------------- x
Institutional environment and services
- availability and prices of capital goods. inputs
(ask traders. distribution centers etc.)
- availability and organization of credit -----x
- access to extension and input, delivery systems --x
- farmers' organizations---------------------------------- x
- access to land and tenurial arrangements --------- x x
- division of labor by age and gender x
- important festivities ----------------------------x
- accessibility, availability of transport x
- location, frequency, role of markets x
- large-scale storage facilities -------------------x
- schools, water supply, electricity, medical
The farming system
Cropping patterns and land use
- crops, cropping patterns, crop associations ---- x x
- differences in cropping pattern among fields/
land types: reasons ----------------------------- x
- ownership of crops within same field ------------ x
- criteria for choosing/abandoning field ---------- x
- duration and utilization of fallow -------------- x x
- products collected from the bush x
- obsolete, new crops, reasons --------------------x
- other changes in farming practices over the
last 40 years (ask old folk)--------------------x
- crop varieties and their characteristics x
Cropping operations and crop calendar
- plant spacing and arrangement ------------------ x
- time and method of land preparationplanting,
weeding, harvesting----------------------------- x
Inputs and yield
- sources and maintenance of seeds/planting
- use of organic, inorganic fertilizers.
household refuse. agro-chemicals ---------------- x x
- farm implements --------------------------------- x
- estimates of yields ----------------------------- x
- weeds, time and method of control --------------- x
- pests and diseases and their control ------------ x
- nutrient deficiencies --------------------------- x
- livestock systems: species, husbandry,
feeding regime, interaction with cropping x x
Post-harvest activities and consumption
- storage facilities (household and community) x
- utilization of crops, proportions marketed
and cohsumed------------------------------------ x
- processing of crops and food by the farm
household or community ------------------------- x
- prices of farm products ------------------------ x x
- consumption patterns and food preferences:
sorts of purchased food ------------------------ x
- water and fuel requirements and sources x
- utilization of crop residues and by-products --- x
Factors of production
- availability of land ---------------------------- x x
- number, size and location of fields per
household -------------------------------------- x
- accessibility of fields ------------------------ x
Capital. capital goods and capital formation
- sources and principal usages of cash------------ x
- sources and cost of labor, family and hired ---- x
- distribution of labor, peaks, slack periods
and bottlenecks---------------------------------- x x
Management and information
- educational level of farmers-------------------- x
Decision making and production choices
- gender roles in these---------------------------x
Logistics of the survey. The workshop coordinator explains the arrangements that have been made for the field survey.
Group planning for the survey. The workgroups meet briefly to discuss their strategies during the coming field survey. They will appoint a survey leader who may or may not be the person who was earlier appointed group chairperson. The survey leader's role may also rotate.
Each member's specific responsibilities for observations, recording and reporting are reviewed so that all subjects are assigned. For the field visits, the team leader will divide the group into subteams of about 3 (plus an interpreter if needed). The composition of the subteams may change on successive days.
Day 3 Day 5
Field survey. Each group will visit two different villages, the first village on days 3 and 4 the second on day 5.
Introductory meetings in villages. The meeting should involve a cross section of the village population and as little "steering" as possible by village authorities and extension agents. The best meeting place is in the village square or under a tree in front of some notable's house. On the first day, the team leader explains the purpose of the visit and stresses the training aspect for the team members. Some general questions can be asked (see checklist) but the meeting should not last for more than 30-45 minutes. The team leader requests volunteers (up to 3 farmers per subteam) to accompany the subteams to the fields. On the first day in the first village he or she should also explain that the team will come back the next day to visit some other farmers' fields.
Before going to the fields the subteams must agree on a time to return to the village.
Field visits. interviews. Farmers tend to assume that the visitors only want to visit fields close to the village. Some effort should be
made to visit every field type. both close by and remote ones, in an attempt to discover any substantial differences in cropping patterns.
Round-up meeting in the village. The subteams must respect the time for return to the village. so they can participate in a round-up meeting with the farmers. Questions of a general nature (checklist) can be most conveniently asked then.
Evaluation of the survey process. Each afternoon before the groups reassemble, a resource person will lead a plenary discussion on the survey process, its difficulties and ways to improve it.
Group discussions. After the groups have reassembled. the day's
findings are briefly summarized by each team member according to his or her assigned reporting task.
Gaps are noted (checklist) for more attention on the next survey day. A priority list of topics may be drawn up for the next day.
Guidelines for writing the area reports. The area reports will
consist of (1) all the information collected from base data as well as during the exploratory survey (Table 2) and (2) a list of major constraints and opportunities.
The resource persons repeat the instructions given before the writing of the preliminary reports. Special attention can be given to the cropping patterns and the labor profile for the farming system. Data sheets help to visualize the temporal relations of crops in the different cropping patterns (Figure 3) and to show the various fields with their crops in a given year (Figure 4). The latter is based on an approximate area of each field for an "average" household. A data sheet can also be used for a coded representation of cropping operations by month for each field type (Figure 5). Inspecting this sheet should indicate periods of labor stress and slack periods. If reliable data on the labor requirements for the different operations are available, a graph can be made for the total labor requirements for cropping in a "typical" farm.
Pattern FIRST YEAR SECOND YEAR THIRD YEAR FOURTH YEAR
JIFMAMIJIJIAISOIN D JIF IMIAIMIJIASIIOND JIFMIAMIJIJIA SlONj JIFIMIAIMIJ1JIASON
/ E. MAZE L / MAlZE / A RFHo
Example / CSSAVA CASSAVA REPEAT OR FALLOW
Fig. 3. Worksheet for cropping patiems and sequences; the first row shows an example.("First year" assumes
that the land was fallow the year before; that is, year 0 was the final year of the follow period.
Field t y*pe Typical
reField oI J F M A M J J A S 0 N D
I I I I I I I I a
Maize/cassava Maize .
(Example). 0.3 ha. Cassava
I 2 3
4 5 6
Fig.4. Worksheet for field types with crop combinations. The first row shows on example. ("Typical area" is
the approximate area of each field for on average" household.)
CROPPING OPERATIONS Typical Field Type area J F M A M J J A S 0 N D
__ _ __ I ,I I I
Maize/cassava (Example) h h I
4 5 6
Legend: c= clearing, r=land preparation, p= planting/staking, w= weeding, h=harvesting Fig. 5. Worksheet for cropping operations in different fieid types. The first row shows an example.
The resource persons should give clear guidelines for the preparation of a list of constraints and opportunities. We suggest preparing a master list first with all the constraints that were identified. according to various categories (Table 4). This list is then narrowed down to a small number of priority constraints and opportunities, categorized as:
- Amenable to technical solutions ("addressable"); and
- Not amenable to such solutions ("non-addressable"). This last list appears in the report and all team members must agree on it.
Table 4. Categories of constraints and under-utilized opportunities.
1 Physical environment Inputs and yields
Climate Crop disorders
Soils storage, processing.
2. Human environment and Physical Livestock
4. Factors of production
Transporta tion Labor
3. Farming Systems
Capital and capital goods
Cropping patterns, fallow
Report writing. The group members write their assigned chapters and transfer the highlights to flip charts, which are discussed by the team. A master list of constraints and opportunities is then drawn up by the team and narrowed down to a priority list, which is also transferred to a flip chart for presentation to the plenary session.
Consolidation of constraints list: farmers' solutions. The chairperson leads a plenary discussion of the groups" constraints list to arrive at one consolidated list of not more than five "addressable" constraints and opportunities and a small number of "non-addressable" ones. For each constraint the participants will discuss the solutions that farmers themselves apply within the limits of their means.
Visits to experimental sites. In preparation of the choice of innovations and the design of on-farm trials, 1 full day is spent on visits to experimental sites and talks by researchers and development workers in the area. The participants will have the opportunity to learn
about "available technologies" and discuss those with researchers against the background of the constraints and opportunities they have identified earlier.
Choice and preliminary assessment of innovations. The choice as well as the assessment of innovations for testing is a crucial part of the workshop. The activity must be carefully explained. Each workgroup uses the consolidated list agreed upon at the plenary meeting. For each item on the list the workgroups will consider whether:
- An available technology can be tested directly on-farm or
- Station research and additional data collection are needed
before an innovation can be proposed for on-farm testing.
This exercise results in a table that shows the addressable constraints. the solutions farmers have found, proposed innovations for on-farm testing and for station research and additional studies (Table 5).
Subsequently, the proposed innovations for on-farm testing are subjected to a preliminary evaluation ("ex-ante evaluation"). The participants rate each proposed innovatio- for various criteria.
Table S. Worksheet for listing solutions (farmers' and proposed)
for priority constraints and opportunities
.Constraints and. Farmers' On-farm testing On-station
.opportunities solutions testing and
A number of criteria will apply under virtually every set of conditions, while some additional criteria, specific for the study area may be added. A useful format for this exercise is shown in Table 6. The first column contains the innovations and the next columns are used for rating them against the criteria shown in the top row. The first five criteria will very generally apply, while the next few columns can be used for more specific ones. to be drawn from the list of "non-addressable" constraints.
Presentation of chosen innovations and their preliminary assessment
Presentations are made by a representative from each group and the chairperson leads the discussion after each group s presentation.
Design. monitoring and evaluation of on-farm trials. Presentations by the resource persons on the characteristics of on-farm trials enable the workgroups to design their own trials in the following sessions.
Preparation for trial design. Each workgroup designs at most two trials. All the workgroups are asked to prepare one common trial. i.e. one designed around a constraint that has been.given high priority by all the groups; the other trial can be left to the groups to
choose. A format for the design is proposed in Table 7, which includes the essentials needed for any trial. Under the heading "data to be collected" the teams should spell out the type of observations and by whom they are to be collected. The general checklist of Table 8 should be useful but additional data may be needed for a specific trial. The preparation of field books goes beyond the scope of the workshop.
Design of on-farm trials. The workgroups reassemble to design one or two trials in some detail. They take special care to match the innovations with a "target" cropping pattern and a target group of farmers if appropriate.
Table 6. Worksheet for the preliminary evaluation of innovations
How does the innovation rate for:
* Necessary Desirable Criteria
Simple Econo-.. Labor Capital. Risk Effect
* enough?. mic? use and. inputs?. on other.
timing?. constS saints?
++ Very favorable Unfavorable ? Uncertain
+ Favorable -- Very unfavorable
N.B. An innovation that does not increase capital inputs would be
favorable (,): in that respect, one that reduces the need for
capital is very favorable (++)
Table 7. Elements to be included in a trial design
1. Objectives and hypotheses
- target cropping pattern
- detailed description of treatments
3. Non-treatment factors and operations
e.g. spacing. fertilizer rates,
planting dates etc.
4. Experimental design and layout
field plan of experimental units
grouping of experimental units
e.g. number of treatments or reps per farmer.
number of farmers.
other groupings. such as stratification by
5. Choice of farmers and fields
6. Operations carried out by farmers
7. Operations carried out by research team B. Materials required S. Observations
- nature of observations
- method of observation (e.g. informal, questionnaire)
- frequency of observations
- observers (scientist. field assistant)
.Table 8. Checklist of-information. to be collected atdifferent stages of the testing process
Part 1. Information to be collected in the process of-selecting
farmers and trial fields. probably by an enumerator
except (5) which needs an agronomist or soil scientist.
1. Name and approximate age of the farmer. Time for which he or
she has lived in the village. Ethnic allegiance. educational
level, gender and status in the household (e.g. head. first
wife. unmarried son etc).
2. Size and structure of the family and especially the labor
force by age and gender.
3. Approximate size and location of fields other than the trial
site. Land type and planned cropping pattern of each field in
the year of the trial.
4. Soil sample(s) from the trial site for routine laboratory
analysis. (Subdivide if differences in slope. drainage,
proximity of trees etc.).
5. Field description of the trial site: soil texture to auger ,depth, drainage. depth. position in toposequence, land type.
land history .(duration of last fallow: cropping patterns
since last fallow, fertilizer and manure applied since last
fallow *or last three years in permanently cropped lands).
Part 11. Information to be collected during the growing season
by enumerators under frequent supervision.
G. Daily rainfall in each research village.
7. Dates of all operations, time spent on each plot and types of
labour (man, woman or child: family,, exchange or hired).
Tractor or draft animal time when appropriate. Farmer's
estimate of cost per man day of hired labor at that time of year whether or not he used it. (Either enumerator is present to observe the operations or he visits regularly and asks the
farmer to recall the date and times spent on operations).
8. Emergence counts of each crop in each plot. Exact dimensions
of each experimental plot. (Enumerator to count and
9. Names of all varieties planted including local names where
appropriate. Amounts of all material inputs used by plot (seed. fertilizer. crop protection chemical). (Not always
easy; farmers may divert fertilizer to other fields if
enumerator is not watchful. If it happens, then try and find
actual quantities applied to research plot). Farmer's estimate of cost of each item if he had to purchase it
without help (record units).
10. Scores of weed infestation by plot at weekly intervals
(general weediness and specific problems if present).
11. Scores of specific pests and diseases by plot at weekly
intervals as they occur.
12. Scores of crop vigor by plot for each crop at weekly
13. Dates of flowering of each crop by plot, dates of
physiological maturity where this can be easily assessed.
Part 111. Information to be collected at harvest of each crop.
The enumerator should be present if possible. It is best
to weigh and count all produce by plot but if piecemeal harvesting is normal practice then sample. Use the same
sampling procedure in every plot on one farm and record
14. Stand or plant count by plot of crops to be harvested,
lodging count if appropriate, counts of barren or diseased
15. Number of units (maize ears, sorghum heads, yam tubers etc.)
by plot and by grade (ware and seed; filled heads and
partially filled heads etc.)
16. Weight of product by plot and grade (product = crop as
carried from the field. i.e. often unthreshed).
17. Drying and threshing percentage of a small subsample from
each plot and grade (Buy it and carry to the lab if
18. Labor inputs for harvesting by labor type (see 7 above) and
by plot. Farmer's estimate of daily wage rate at the
Part IV. Information to be collected at the farmer interview at
the end of the season. If researcher is present this can be flexible but if done by enumerator a questionnaire is needed.
19. Farmer's perception of the yield of improved plots relative
to his own.
20. Farmer's perception of, the quality of the improved product
relative to hi s own (color. cooking quality. processability.
taste, storability etc.).
21; Farmer's estimate of the market price of the improved product
at the time of harvest and at the seasonal peak.
Prices of his own comparable product at the same times.
(Use units understood by the farmer e.g. bags. calabashes).
22. Farmer's perception of the effectiveness of an innovation
(herbicide, insecticide. fertilizer. new cropping pattern).
23. Farmer's intention whether or not to use the innovation next
year. For a "package*, this question should be broken down
to include each element of the package.
24. Farmer's comments on any matter not covered by the above.
Part V. Information to be collected when farms are visited
during the season following that in which trials were
25. Has the farmer adopted the innovation tested on his farm?
Confirm by observation if possible. Tackle each element
of a package separately.
26. If not. why not?
27. If yes. repeat questions 19 to 22 in the checklist above.
28. Has the adoption led to any other change in the farming
system (change in cropping pattern. adjustment of farm
size. change in labor use etc.).
Presentation of trial designs. The trials designed around a common theme are presented first and carefully compared; then the group-specific trials are presented and discussed.
Presentation of the OFR program of the host project. A member of the host institute outlines its OFR program, which is based on more thorough information than can be collected during a workshop of this kind. This look at real OFR gives workshop participants an
opportunity to rethink their solutions and may bring out shortcomings in their insights. Likewise, the host institute may benefit from the views expressed by the participants.
This session is chaired by an independent person who does not identify too strongly with either the institute's work or with the workshop methods and results.
Evaluation of the workshop. For the benefit of future workshops, the participants are requested to complete a questionnaire to evaluate the proceedings. About 30 minutes should be sufficient to complete the questionnaire and another 30 minutes can be spent on an open discussion.
Closing ceremony. The closing is the host's session, and often officials are invited, according to protocol.
Summary of materials required For Individual Participants
- A workshop folder with:
Pen. pencil, paper:
General information on host institute;
Map or drawing of the survey area; and
List of available documents on survey area
- Pocket notebook
- Simple clipboard
For Plenary Session Room
- Tables and chairs in circle or rectangle
- Overhead projector with screen
- Set of clean transparencies and felt pens
- 2 flip charts with felt pens
- Pencil sharpener
- Provision for serving coffee, tea and soft drinks
- Slide projector
- Blackboard with chalk
- Rope witm laundry pegs or wooden bars with drawing pins
For Workgroup Rooms
- Chairs and worktables
- 1-2 flipcharts with felt pens
- Rope with laundry pegs or bars with drawing pins
- List of participants prior to workshop for composition of
- Registration forms
- Documentation on the research area or on the general area
- Soil auger for each team
Approximate numbers required:*
- fig 2: 50 x k
- figs 3 5: 2 x n
- tables 2 9: 2 x n
*k = number of workgroups: n = number of participants