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 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Acknowledgement
 Aims and approach
 Small-farm production systems research...
 Guatemala
 El Salvador
 Honduras
 Panama
 Costa Rica
 Analysis and conclusions
 Acronyms used






Title: Farming systems research and extension at CATIE 1975-1985. Notes and observations
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Title: Farming systems research and extension at CATIE 1975-1985. Notes and observations
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Language: English
Creator: Jones, James C.
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Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Farming   ( lcsh )
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Spatial Coverage: Caribbean
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Acknowledgement
        Page iv
        Page v
    Aims and approach
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Small-farm production systems research at CATIE: A brief history
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Guatemala
        Page 5
        History and setting
            Page 5
        CATIE activity in the field and its impact
            Page 6
        Other CATIE activity and its impact
            Page 7
            Page 8
        The CATIE methodology
            Page 9
        Institutional relations and operational problems
            Page 10
            Page 11
    El Salvador
        Page 12
        History and setting
            Page 12
            Page 13
        CATIE activity in the field and its impact
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
        Other CATIE activity and its impact
            Page 19
            Page 20
        The CATIE methodology
            Page 21
        Institutional relations and operational problems
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
    Honduras
        Page 24
        History and setting
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
        CATIE activity in the field and its impact
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
        The CATIE methodology
            Page 30
        Institutional relations and operational problems
            Page 31
            Page 32
    Panama
        Page 33
        History and setting
            Page 33
        CATIE activity in the field and its impact
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
        The CATIE methodology
            Page 37
            Page 38
        Institutional relations and operational problems
            Page 39
            Page 40
    Costa Rica
        Page 41
        History and setting
            Page 41
        CATIE activity in the field and its impact
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
        The CATIE methodology
            Page 45
        Institutional relations and operational problems
            Page 46
            Page 47
    Analysis and conclusions
        Page 48
        CATIE, national sovereignty, and the demands of farming systems research and extension
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
        The dual track: Basic research versus pragmatism
            Page 52
        Research on cropping associations as systems research
            Page 53
        On donor pressures and interventions
            Page 54
        On validation and transfer
            Page 55
        On the nature of technological alternatives
            Page 56
        On site selection
            Page 57
    Acronyms used
        Page 58
        Page 59
Full Text


























FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION AT CATIE 1975-1985

Notes and Observations





A Report Prepared for Centro Agronomico Tropical
de Investigacidn y Ensefianza


By James C. Jones, Consultant
July, 1985










II





CONTENTS



Acknowledgements..................................... ........ iv

Aims and Approach............................................. vi

Small-Farm Production Systems Research at CATIE:
A Brief History.......................................... .1

Guatemala . ................ . . . . . . ... ..... 5
History and Setting...... .................... ........5
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact.............6
Other CATIE Activity and its Impact....................7
The CATIE Methodology................................. 9
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems......10

El Salvador..................................................12
History and Setting...................................12
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact............14
Other CATIE Activity and its Impact..................19
The CATIE Methodology................................ 21
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems......21

Honduras ....... ........................... ................. 24
History and Setting .. ................................. 24
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact.............27
The CATIE Methodology.................................30
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems......31

Panama ........................... . . . . . . ... 33
History and Setting...................................33
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact.............34
The CATIE Methodology................................. 37
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems......39

Costa Rica................................................... 41
History and Setting ...................................41
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact.............42
The CATIE Methodology...... ...........................45
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems......46







II1





Analysis and Conclusions.....................................48
CATIE, National Sovereignty, and the Demands
of Farming Systems Research and Extension...........49
The Dual Track: Basic Research Versus Pragmatism......52
Research on Cropping Associations
as Systems Research................................ 53
On Donor Pressures and Interventions..................54
On Validation and Transfer...................... ......55
On the Nature of Technological Alternatives...........56
On Site Selection............................* ........57

Acronyms Used............. ...... .....* ....... .......*...... 58

















ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


The research for this report would not have been possible
without the generous assistance of many people. My thanks to
Rodrigo Tarte, Director General of CATIE, for his recognition of
the difficulties of the endeavor; to Romeo Martinez, who
supervised the assignment as head of the Crop Production
Department, for his friendship and general support throughout;
and to Saritza Chavez, secretary in the Crop Production
Department, for serving with efficiency, patience, and kindness
as logistical coordinator for my country visits and other
activities. I am also grateful to Carlos Burgos, Luis Navarro,
Jose Arze, Franklin Rosales, and Donald Kass of the CATIE
technical staff in Turrialba for responding to my ideas and for
discussing CATIE-ROCAP project activities with me in a free and
open fashion.

My assignment undoubtedly created true suffering for the
CATIE country residents and technical personnel, for to those
unfortunate souls fell the daunting task of playing cicerone to
one more intrusive gringo. They arranged my local travel,
scheduled private interviews for me with nationals, kindly
honored my occasional requests to deviate from a prepared
program, and responded to my probing queries with a grace
unique to the Latin world--all as if they had done it many times
before. My heartfelt thanks, therefore, to Bladimiro Villeda in
Guatemala, Joaquin Larios in El Salvador, Roger Meneses in
Honduras, and Washington Bejarano in Panama.

Numerous nationals who gave me time from often busy
schedules to discuss CATIE-ROCAP project activities in their
countries deserve special recognition and thanks. Much of the
content of this report is based on their observations and
comments. Their names should remain anonymous, but they include
administrators and technical people at national, regional, and
local levels. And they also include a few farmers from El
Salvador, Honduras, and Panama.

I am indebted to several other persons at CATIE who helped
me. They include Dora Maria Flores for ferreting out materials;
Amyel Locatelli, whose flawless English was brought to bear on
the typing of early drafts; and Maricela Chavez for general
secretarial support. Thanks also to Carlos Luis Araya and Emilia
Solls, who assisted with the arrangements for my visit to field
sites in.Costa Rica; and to Ing. Solis again for obtaining copies












of research and extension organization charts for the several
Central American countries.

And my gratitude goes also to Rufo Bazan and Jorge Soria,
formerly with CATIE and now with IICA in San Jose, for the time
they freely gave to discuss with me the early history of multiple
cropping research at CATIE. Without their assistance, and that
of several other persons, I would not have been able to provide a
historical perspective on the CATIE-ROCAP projects.

And last, I express my gratitude to ROCAP for approving.
the consultancy, and to the University of Florida for releasing
me from painful managerial duties in Gainesville to execute the
assignment.

I alone, of course, am responsible for any errors of fact,
judgement, or interpretation appearing in the report.


















AIMS AND APPROACH


The research for this report was conducted under the
auspices of the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y
Ensenanza(CATIE), with funds(grant no. 596-0000-6-00-4091-00)
from the Regional Office for Central America and Panama(ROCAP),
United States Agency for International Development(USAID). The
research was commissioned to assess the cumulative impact of two
CATIE-ROCAP farming systems research and development projects,
the first from 1975 to 1979, the second from 1979 to June of
1985. The projects have been active in the countries of
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, and
Nicaragua. The research entailed visits to five of those
countries; Nicaragua was excluded, although the projects have
been quite active there and, according to CATIE staff, have made
a substantial impact. This report is to be a basic reference
document for a final evaluation of the second project. That
evaluation is now scheduled to occur during late July and August
and to be conducted by USAID's Farming Systems Support Project,
managed by the University of Florida.

In more precise terms, the charge of the research here
described was to assess the impact of the two projects through
measuring the degree of adoption of the CATIE methodology by
national research and extension institutions, and the degree to
which improved technologies for small farmers developed by that
methodology had been promoted by those same institutions.

But I soon realized that it would not be easy to assess
project impact using those measures, at least in any systematic
way in the limited time allotted to the assignment. At the same
time, I was becoming aware of the important influence on the
projects of the national institutional settings where they had
been active, and of some of the operational problems that CATIE
had had in those settings. I therefore enlarged the assigned
scope of work on the march to include those influences and
problems.

The report opens with a brief chapter on the history of
production systems research at CATIE, followed by chapters on
each of the five countries, which appear in the sequence that I
visited them. Each country chapter includes separate sections on
CATIE activities in the field and the CATIE methodology. And
each includes an opening section on history and setting, a later












one on institutional relations and operational problems. A final
chapter provides an analysis and conclusions. I have striven
throughout the report to bring life to the projects, to place
their activities in a human and institutional setting, and to
capture the historical flow of their events.

I would hope that this report might be useful not only to
the evaluation team, but also to USAID and CATIE management in
their understanding of the demands of farming systems research,
and especially of some of the problems that arise when an
international research institute conducts this kind of research
in national settings.

I gathered the information for this report alone,
conducting interviews in Spanish with a wide assortment of
people in five countries. The report is based almost entirely on
those interviews. I sought individuals who had been key actors
in CATIE country activities, or at least were close enough to
those activities to be reliable observers. I thus talked with
directors of research and extension at the national level and
with their counterparts at the regional level, where CATIE had
worked. I also talked with CATIE administrative and technical
staff in the countries and in Turrialba. For a historical
perspective, when that was not to be had from individuals
involved in CATIE activities at the time of my visit, I consulted
with knowledgeable persons as I could find them.

I visited at least one CATIE field site in each of the
five countries, selected for reasons of convenience, or security,
or because CATIE felt it had had the greatest impact in that
region. The schedule for the country visits was hectic and
demanding. I left Gainesville for Costa Rica on May 12 and
remained at CATIE until May 15, reading materials and making the
necessary logistical arrangements for the five-country tour. On
May 15, I left San Jose for Guatemala, where I visited with
officials at ICTA headquarters and spent a day in Chimaltenango,
talking with officials there. Then to El Salvador on May 19,
where I met with CENTA officials and flew north to San Miguel on
May 20, thence to Jocoro by land. I spent a day interviewing
CENTA officials--and one farmer--in the San Miguel-Jocoro area
before returning to San Salvador by plane that evening.

I flew to Honduras on May 22, talked with SNRA officials
in Tegucigalpa the same day, then journeyed by car the following
day to Comayagua, where I met with regional officials and visited
several CATIE research sites in the valley. On Saturday, May 25,
I left Honduras for Panama'City, thence by air to David on
Sunday. I visited CATIE research sites in El Progreso on Monday
and talked with IDIAP officials both there and in David. Then by
car to Guarumal, on the southern coast of Panama, on Tuesday,
June 28. Again, meetings with IDIAP officials at the Sona
station and visits to collective farms where CATIE had been







VIII


active. I continued by car in the afternoon to Santiago,
location of IDIAP seat for the Central Region, and talked with
officials there before driving to Panama City, arriving in the
evening of the same day. I met with IDIAP officials at central
headquarters most of the following morning, then caught a noon
flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, for an interview at IICA. I
returned to Turrialba in the evening and devoted the following
two days--May 30 and 31--to visiting CATIE sites in Limon
Province, eastern Costa Rica, and to talking with government
officials in San Jose. I remained the following week in
Turrialba interviewing CATIE staff and sorting through a sea of
information from five countries. I managed to produce a rough
draft of two country reports before leaving Costa Rica for
Gainesville on Sunday, June 9.

In an ideal world, the procedure just described leaves
much to be desired. It would have been desirable to begin the
interviews, then to follow leads as they emerged. And it would
have been desirable to visit more sites, perhaps to read more
before collecting field information. But a lack of time and
resources made all of this impossible.

Certain things should be said about the report. First, it
is biased toward the second CATIE-ROCAP project, despite my
charge to cover both. But this was inevitable: the first project
had receded in time and was thus less accessible verbally. Also,
many of the key actors had disappeared from the scene. Coverage
of the period 1975 to 1979, therefore, is incomplete. Second,
project training activities are dealt with only summarily. I
pursued the topic only in Guatemala, where I decided that the
information I was getting did not justify the time and effort
required to obtain it. Yet CATIE has devoted considerable effort
to the training of nationals both in Turrialba and in countries
of the region. And third, little on CATIE internal dynamics
appears in the report. But these dynamics have influenced the
impact of the CATIE-ROCAP projects in the field. The Animal
Production Department, for example, has not always favored
systems research and was reluctant to participate in the research
on mixed systems.


James C. Jones
Gainesville, Florida
July 19, 1985














SMALL-FARM PRODUCTION SYSTEMS RESEARCH AT CATIE: A BRIEF HISTORY


The Center Agrondmico Tropical de Investigacion y
Ensefanza(CATIE), a creation of the Instituto Interamericano de
Ciencias A ricolas(IICA; today the Instituto Americano de
Cooperacion para la Agricultura) and the Government of Costa
Rica, was founded in 1973 with seat in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
CATIE was really the reorientation and restructuring of IICA's
Training and Research Center at Turrialba, an agricultural
research and training arm of the Organization of American
States(OAS) to serve the Americas. Among other things, the
reorientation involved a narrowing of geographic focus to the
tropics of the Central American Isthmus and the Antilles.
Systems research at CATIE, first managed by the Tropical
Crops and Soils Department(today the Crop Production Department),
began with an interest in multiple cropping just prior to the
founding of CATIE. A small group of researchers were concerned
that agricultural research in Central America and the Caribbean
was not addressing the needs of small farmers, who produced most
of the food for the region. But they also knew that those
farmers widely practiced polyculture, or multiple cropping, yet
agricultural research, which had worked entirely with
monoculture, knew little about cultivating in associations.

To redress this deficiency, the group of researchers
initiated the famous Central Experiment in 1972. Conducted on
the station in Turrialba, the experiment researched associations
of regional crops--corn, beans, rice, cassava, and sweet
potatoes. The crops were studied in monoculture as well as in
numerous combinations and rotational patterns. Input levels were
also varied in recognition that small farmers of the region
worked with very limited resources. The experiment was concerned
not only with yields, but also with creating stable cropping
systems, for most small farmers had little land and had to work
it continuously. The more promising associations and
technologies from the Central Experiment were singled out for
further research in "satellite experiments," also conducted in
Turrialba. The Central Experiment, or at least parts of it, was
continued until about 1978.

This early CATIE research effort, overwhelmingly
agronomic, has been both maligned and praised over the years.
Detractors of the Central Experiment say that CATIE researchers,
except for recognizing that regional farmers had limited land and
cultivated in associations, did not understand small-farm
cultivation practices and certainly did not use them as points of
departure for developing improved technologies. Those critics









further cite the complex agronomic research designs of the
experiment and the bewildering statistical rigor they required,
and argue that the results did not justify the effort.

Defenders of the Central Experiment often wax eloquent in
describing it. They take pride in the rigor of its design and
argue that CATIE researchers of the time had no experience
with cropping associations and needed first to understand their
biophysical interactions. As one researcher involved in the
effort put it, "The Central Experiment was a laboratory where we
worked with biophysical components. It was never meant to be
anything else."

The Central Experiment is important historically because
it set the tone for subsequent CATIE endeavors. It focused
research on a narrow system of biophysical interactions and
sought to simulate, at least in a general way, farmer conditions
on the Turrialba station. It can be seen, therefore, as a first
step in the direction of on-farm systems research. There is no
question that the experiment, in which biometricians played a key
role, was scientifically rigorous. According to one researcher
of the time, researchers often found themselves marooned in
statistical analysis, for the design was too complex for the use
of conventional agronomic methods of analysis. The Central
Experiment, reminiscent of the extrapolation research that would
be conducted nearly a decade later, marks the beginning of a
dual track that CATIE has followed over the years. There was an
obvious concern for scientific rigor, a desire to do basic
research and to contribute to the store of knowledge, yet the
ultimate objective, to develop technologies suitable for small
farms of the region, was profoundly pragmatic.

With the founding of CATIE, the constituent departments
were required by the directorship to propose lines of research
inquiry. The Department of Tropical Crops and Soils proposed
multicropping on small farms as one line, new crops to diversify
local economies as another. The crop diversification line was
ultimately rejected by CATIE management in favor of research on
multicropping to improve regional food production.

Meanwhile, the Latin American and Carribean Bureau of
the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) had
learned of CATIE's interest in multicropping. AID was already
following--and supporting--the Asian cropping systems work at the
International Rice Research Institute(IRRI) in the Philippines,
and the Bureau wanted to initiate a similar enterprise in the
Americas. AID communicated this desire to the directorship of
CATIE, thus further fueling enthusiasm there for the new line of
research inquiry.

CATIE sponsored a regional conference in 1974 to discuss
the potential of multicropping research in the Central American
region. Supported by USAID and IICA, the conference was attended
by dignitaries from AID/Washington, representatives of the










international donor community, the heads of national research
institutions in the region, representatives of Asian cropping
systems research, and distinguished researchers working in
Central America. To my knowledge, it was the first international
conference on cropping systems in the Americas. CATIE used the
occasion to show and explain its Central Experiment to conference
participants.

Shortly after the conference, USAID announced to CATIE the
availability of funds for multicropping research in the Central
American region. This immediately led to the design of the Small
Farmer Cropping Systems Project. After a brief turf squabble
between AID/Washington and the AID Regional Office for Central
America and Panama(ROCAP), it was decided that the new project
would be-managed from the AID side by ROCAP. Referred to in this
report as the first CATIE-ROCAP project, the effort marks the
beginning of a relationship between ROCAP and CATIE that would
last for ten years, from 1975 until 1985.

The influence of the Asian cropping systems tradition in
that relationship has been significant. It was USAID that first
brought that influence to bear on CATIE and that has continued to
promote it over the years. Several of the key advisors to CATIE
procured by AID have come out of the Asian tradition. As regards
the influence of research disciplines, soil scientists seem to
have enjoyed a disproportionate share, especially during the
decade of the 1970's.

Funds from the new project enabled CATIE to leave the
Turrialba station to test its technologies and methods in
countries of the region. But ROCAP first required CATIE to
secure memoranda of understanding with those countries for
research on the agricultural production systems of small farmers.
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras signed memoranda in 1975 and
work began soon thereafter; Guatemala and El Salvador signed in
1976, but because of misunderstandings, work did not begin in El
Salvador until 1977 and in Guatemala until 1978. CATIE did not
effectively commence systems research in Panama until the
beginning of the second CATIE-ROCAP project in 1979.

The primary objective of the first project, designed to
work with annual crops, was to develop a regional approach to
research that would improve small-farm cropping systems. In
addition to this mandate for methodology, the project was to
design ten technologies for areas of Central America. These came
to be called technological packages, or "tech-packs," although
CATIE preferred the term "alternatives."

Further information on this first CATIE-ROCAP project and
its activities from 1975 until 1979 can be found in the project
paper, in the final project report(1979), and in the final
evaluation(1980). It bears emphasizing that a major product of
the project was, and was intended to be, methodology--a
methodology for doing cropping systems research that came to










include the stages of site selection, characterization, design,
and on-farm testing. In accordance with the project design,
technologies emerging from the testing stage were delivered to a
national extension service for promotion. But evidence suggested
that few farmers were adopting the technologies, a matter of
concern to ROCAP as the project drew to a close in 1979. The
final project evaluation cited the lack of an extension component
as a weakness of the project.

The second CATIE-ROCAP project, the Small Farm Production
Systems Project, began in 1979 and was a programmatic sequel to
the first project. There was a continuing concern for
methodology, again to be a major product of the effort, which was
widened to include perennial crops and livestock. In contrast
with the first project, technology transfer was a major
preoccupation of the second. There were two parts to this
preoccupation: first, CATIE was charged by ROCAP with developing
a methodology for extending to farmers the technologies developed
during the first project; and second, CATIE was to develop a
methodology for "extrapolating" technologies from one
agroecological zone to another. I deal with extrapolation at
some length under El Salvador, to a less extent under Guatemala.
As regards extension methodology, CATIE equivocated somewhat
here, arguing with ROCAP that they were a research institution
and had neither the expertise nor the resources to pursue the
matter adequately. But ROCAP pressure mounted, and in 1982 a
fifth stage--Validation and Transfer--was added to the CATIE
systems research methodology, and CATIE hurriedly began to
validate some of the technological alternatives developed
earlier. The project was amended at the time to accommodate the
new effort. The validation stage was really a compromise
solution to the CATIE-ROCAP argument, which I deal with more
fully in the last section of this report.

The project was extended in 1983 to June of 1985 in order
to include research on mixed systems--crops and livestock.









5





GUATEMALA


History and Setting


The Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologfa Agri'colas(ICTA) was
founded in 1973 as the national institution charged with
agricultural research. ICTA was initially concerned with
national food crops and did not begin livestock research until
1979. The Direccion General de Servicios Agricolas(DIGESA) is
charged with crop extension in the country, and the Direccidn
General de Servicios Pecuarios(DIGESEPE) handles livestock
extension. Just how extension relates(or should relate) to
research is a controversial issue in Guatemala.

Like ICTA, CATIE was also founded in 1973 and in many ways
the two institutions have parallel histories that have placed
them on a collision course. These histories have conditioned
relations between the institutions and must be understood in
order to make sense of those relations today.

Both CATIE and ICTA early recognized the need to work with
limited-resource farmers in order to increase national food
production. From their founding until about 1978, both
institutions were developing research methodologies that would
help them achieve their goals, and both were meanwhile seeking
identities as fledgling institutions. The two were part of the
ferment of the times, of the 1970's, when researchers in Asia,
Africa, and elsewhere in Latin America were also developing
research methodologies for generating technologies for
limited-resource farmers. ICTA moved toward a tradition rooted
in Plan Puebla, while CATIE drifted in the direction of Asian
cropping systems research as developed at the International Rice
Research Institute(IRRI) in the Philippines.

Yet the methodologies of the two institutions have much in
common: both have roughly the same stages--diagnosis, design,
testing, and extension--and both do research on farmers' fields
using a systems perspective. But there are also differences, not.
as great today as they once were, and these have been sources of
conflict between CATIE and ICTA over the years.

ICTA rejected early overtures by CATIE to work in
Guatemala. CATIE said that it had something to offer ICTA; ICTA
said that it did not. ICTA had seen the Central Experiment in
Turrialba and was not impressed: the experiment was too complex,
there were too many variables under manipulation, and the results









5





GUATEMALA


History and Setting


The Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologfa Agri'colas(ICTA) was
founded in 1973 as the national institution charged with
agricultural research. ICTA was initially concerned with
national food crops and did not begin livestock research until
1979. The Direccion General de Servicios Agricolas(DIGESA) is
charged with crop extension in the country, and the Direccidn
General de Servicios Pecuarios(DIGESEPE) handles livestock
extension. Just how extension relates(or should relate) to
research is a controversial issue in Guatemala.

Like ICTA, CATIE was also founded in 1973 and in many ways
the two institutions have parallel histories that have placed
them on a collision course. These histories have conditioned
relations between the institutions and must be understood in
order to make sense of those relations today.

Both CATIE and ICTA early recognized the need to work with
limited-resource farmers in order to increase national food
production. From their founding until about 1978, both
institutions were developing research methodologies that would
help them achieve their goals, and both were meanwhile seeking
identities as fledgling institutions. The two were part of the
ferment of the times, of the 1970's, when researchers in Asia,
Africa, and elsewhere in Latin America were also developing
research methodologies for generating technologies for
limited-resource farmers. ICTA moved toward a tradition rooted
in Plan Puebla, while CATIE drifted in the direction of Asian
cropping systems research as developed at the International Rice
Research Institute(IRRI) in the Philippines.

Yet the methodologies of the two institutions have much in
common: both have roughly the same stages--diagnosis, design,
testing, and extension--and both do research on farmers' fields
using a systems perspective. But there are also differences, not.
as great today as they once were, and these have been sources of
conflict between CATIE and ICTA over the years.

ICTA rejected early overtures by CATIE to work in
Guatemala. CATIE said that it had something to offer ICTA; ICTA
said that it did not. ICTA had seen the Central Experiment in
Turrialba and was not impressed: the experiment was too complex,
there were too many variables under manipulation, and the results









6
seemed trivial relative to the effort. ICTA did not want CATIE
testing hypotheses and developing a methodology in Guatemala.
Tension between the two institutions mounted, as they did between
ICTA and ROCAP, for ROCAP had made funds available to CATIE to
work in the countries of the region, but first there had to be
signed agreements between those countries and CATIE. Also, ROCAP
felt that ICTA's research methods were not sufficiently rigorous.
CATIE did not begin systems research in Guatemala until early
1978.


CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact


CATIE has arguably had some impact with new technologies
in two areas of Guatemala: in Chimaltenango Department on the
lower reaches of the Central Highlands, about an hour from
Guatemala City; and in Nueva Concepcidn, Escuintla Department, in
the south of the country. I visited only the area of
Chimaltenango.


The Wide-Furrow Technology in Chimaltenango


ICTA began working with the traditional
milpa(mafz-frijol-haba) system of Chimaltenango in 1976. The
objective was to increase the yields of corn and beans on
highland farms with limited land. The double-furrow(surco double)
system was first developed. That system involved a change in the
spacing of corn--to a system with two furrows on either side of
an alley, which was to be used for intercropping potatoes or
wheat.

A CATIE resident researcher entered the area in early 1978
to work with an ICTA technology testing team in Region V. He
began with the ICTA idea, that of changing the corn spacing, but
varied the theme to include the planting of crops such as
carrots, potatoes, beans, and broccoli in the alley between the
corn rows. He also further varied the corn spacing, using ohly
one furrow of corn on either side of the alley instead of two.
His fertilization and other agronomic practices for corn and
vegetables varied little from those traditional in the area. A
later comparison of the net income of the double-furrow and the
wide-furrow(surco ancho) systems, with the same crops in the
alleys, revealed the wide-furrow system to be superior.

The new alternative was just entering the validation stage
when a violent civil disturbance forced a halt to all field
operations. ROCAP authorized CATIE to withdraw its resident
researcher, who left the country in late 1981 for Turrialba, with
no chance to continue the work.

This technology has recently awakened some interest. It










is today described in a public flyer printed by ICTA, with
instructions to the reader to contact DIGESA for further
information. According to my sources, the technology may need
some minor adjustments, but is otherwise ready for diffusion.
Both DIGESA and a local cooperative are interested in it. If a
large BID project for research, extension, and seed production
currently pending before the Guatemalan Government is approved,
the wide-furrow system will likely be promoted.


Dual-Purpose Cattle Technology in Nueva Concepcion


Although carried out under an ICTA banner, this
technology(Modulo de Produccion Bovina de Doble Proposito) is
widely recognized in Guatemala as a predominantly CATIE
contribution. The technology is highly acclaimed as of this
writing, and there is much agreement that it represents the major
contribution of CATIE in the country to date.

ICTA began livestock research in the area of Nueva
Concepcion in 1979, and soon thereafter, realizing its weakness
in this realm, entered into a cooperative agreement with CATIE.
The two institutions worked together and developed a dual-purpose
cattle technology, which was ready for validation in 1983. That
validation is now being conducted by ICTA, DIGESEPE, and the
Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Agrfcola(BANDESA). As with the
wide-furrow technology, plans are to further extend the livestock
alternative through the BID project now before the Guatemalan
Government.

The success of the work in Nueva Concepcion has led ICTA
to plan the development of a similar dual-purpose alternative for
the dry areas of the country. Slated to direct that effort is an
ICTA researcher trained by CATIE. According to one well-informed
source, the work in Nueva Concepcion has stimulated ICTA to
prepare a proposal for the creation of a livestock research unit
within the institute.

Following the completion of the development of the
dual-purpose alternative, the CATIE-ROCAP project extended the
research in Nueva Concepcion to include crops. One alternative
has been developed for a mixed system, but the results were not
available when I was in Guatemala. This work, however, has had
neither the endorsement nor the support of ICTA.


Other CATIE Activity and its Impact


The Farming Systems Research Network


CATIE initiated the formation of national farming systems









8
research networks in Guatemala and El Salvador in 1983, and
planned to organize them in other countries of the region if
funds- could be obtained. These national networks were to form
part of a regional network that would exchange information.
Networking activity was part of the CATIE outreach program at the
time.

The network in Guatemala has about 100 members, most of
them ICTA researchers working in the area of Quetzaltenango,
where the association is based. The group has a steering
committee but no regularly scheduled meetings. Indeed, only
three meetings have been held since the network was founded.
None of the ICTA people I talked with mentioned the network. It
was formed at the initiative of CATIE, so it seems, and then
abandoned.


Training


The impact of CATIE in this area is difficult to gauge.
CATIE has provided degree training at the master's level.to
numerous Guatemalans, several of whom specialized in agricultural
production systems. The current Technical Director of ICTA is a
CATIE graduate as are several other ICTA employees. Six
professors of agronomy on the faculty at the University of San
Carlos have master's degrees from CATIE; at least two of them
specialized in production systems and are now teaching systems
courses at the university. The CATIE graduates at San Carlos are
seeking closer relations between their university and CATIE. An
agreement between the two institutions was recently drafted but
has not yet been signed.

The CATIE graduates with whom I talked in Guatemala were
in the main satisfied with the training they had received; at
least one distinguished ICTA researcher had nothing but praise
for the CATIE training program. The only negative comment made
to me, and not voiced with much feeling, was that CATIE
instructors are sometimes remiss in their teaching and advisory
duties owing to travel and other responsibilities.

A few comments compared CATIE training with that received
in the United States. CATIE training, it was said, is more
general than that-offered by the American universities and thus
enables researchers to be more versatile and to better function in
the environment of Guatemala. Also, CATIE trains students in
Spanish and in a tropical agricultural setting, where they will
be working.


Extrapolation


Guatemala was one of several countries in the region








9
selected for experiments to develop a methodology to
extrapolate technologies from one ecological zone to another.
The development of such a methodology is stipulated in the second
CATIE-ROCAP project. The extrapolation research in Guatemala was
conducted in the Departments of Jutiapa and Santa Rosa from
April of 1982 until May of 1984. Experiments were to be
initiated also in the southern Guatemala-Baja Verapaz region, but
the political violence there foiled the plans. The objective of
this multi-country research was to develop an extrapolation
methodology for the semi-arid tropical areas of Central America.
A Corn-sorghum association was used in the experiments. The
effort really centered on Tejutla in El Salvador, where the
experimental association was first generated. The idea was to
test it in zones ecologically similar to Tejutla elsewhere in
Central America and where the same association occurred. By
distributing the test sites over a given zone in such a way that
the full range of variation in soil and climate was represented
for that zone, the critical ecological variables determining the
behavior of the associations could be isolated. Or so the theory
went. Since a significant amount of energy and resources has
been allocated to the work on extrapolation, I deal more fully
with the topic, including the historical origins of the idea,
under El Salvador.

A lengthy report was published in 1983 on the Guatemalan
effort entitled: Extrapolacion. Informe Anual 1983. A companion
volume, Metodologfa del Andlisis FisiogrAfico Aplicado a
Extrapolacioh de Sistemas de Cultivos, was published in 1984.
This work is a study in the application of aerial photography to
physiographic analysis conducted to produce maps useful in
extrapolation.

I was unable to find anyone in Guatemala who knew anything
about this work, which is highly technical. I do not think it
went beyond the production of the reports.

The CATIE Methodology


CATIE has not influenced Guatemala in the area of
methodology. There is simply no reason for ICTA to turn to CATIE
here. Indeed, methodological differences, or sometimes the
perception thereof, have been a source of tension between the two
institutions over the years. And those differences have placed a
strain on CATIE researchers working in Guatemala, for ICTA has
not been tolerant of research methods other than their own. A
brief foray into a few of the more salient differences may be
instructive.

CATIE has often worked with crop complexes as such, those
complexes approximating in varying degrees complexes already
existing at a selected site. ICTA also starts with an actual
complex and seeks.to improve it, but, in contrast with CATIE,










works with only a component or two, while maintaining a systems
perspective. What I just described are tendencies, or ways the
two institutions tend to approach their tasks. The differences
are subtle, and researchers from both institutions may deviate
from the tendencies in the field. Other differences are more
obvious. CATIE, for example, expends more effort in the
collection of data than does ICTA, certainly at the
characterization, or diagnostic stage. And CATIE places more
emphasis on the biophysical aspects of farming systems research
than does ICTA.


Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


Much friction between CATIE and ICTA over the years is
related to what I will call sovereignty. ICTA is the sovereign
entity charged with agricultural research in Guatemala and has
guarded that charge with a jealousy unusual among research
institutions in the region, a jealousy undoubtedly reinforced by
the international attention the institute has received since its
founding. All agricultural research in Guatemala is to be
coordinated by ICTA, and all research involving foreign entities
is to be a collaborative effort with ICTA. Furthermore, that
research is to be conducted under an ICTA banner, and the results
are to be published with the ICTA seal.

With all of this CATIE has clashed over the years. When
CATIE began work in the country in early 1978, its site had been
selected for it--ICTA's Region V, the area of Chimaltenango.
CATIE wanted to work in the lowlands rather than in the
highlands, where it had no experience. It was difficult for ICTA
to fit the new CATIE resident researcher into its activities
during 1978, which were already programmed when he arrived. And
there is evidence that he was not taken seriously during his
first year. But his situation improved substantially in 1979.

Project "ownership" and the control of CATIE operating
funds were issues of contention between ICTA and CATIE during the
early years. Both institutions sought to own and manage the
projects on which they worked, and ICTA resented CATIE's control
of its operating funds. The large budget that CATIE enjoyed did
not go unnoticed either, for ICTA required them to provide
substantial material resources to cooperative endeavors.

ICTA researchers thus felt that CATIE was too independent,
that it made its decisions without regard for ICTA, and that its
researchers took their orders from Turrialba rather than from
Guatemala.

Additional tensions have arisen from the different
positions occupied by the two institutions along a
theory-practice dimension. ICTA researchers perceive themselves
as pragmatic, CATIE researchers as theoretical. They say that









11
CATIE researchers want to publish, to do science for the sake of
science. "CATIE researchers are thinkers," I was told, "and this
is a luxury we can't afford. We must be doers." And ICTA
researchers cannot understand the heavy emphasis placed by CATIE
on developing methodology. "You can't eat methodology," said one
of them.

The increasing political violence that finally drove CATIE
out of the Chimaltenango area in late 1981 was serious and
greatly disrupted research activities. The local peasantry was
caught in a conflict between guerrilla forces and the Guatemalan
Army. At least one farmer collaborator in San Martin Jilotepeque
was killed in late 1980, and others abandoned their farms. ICTA
agronomists grew reluctant to enter the area. In Alta Verapaz
Department, where CATIE was beginning livestock research of a
kind already underway in Nueva Concepcion, an ICTA agronomist
paid by them was killed when his CATIE-marked vehicle was raked
by machine-gun fire. These incidents struck fear into CATIE and
ICTA, and research in Alta Verapaz and Chimaltenango was soon
abandoned.


















EL SALVADOR


History and Setting


El Salvador is a country at war with itself. The war has
profoundly conditioned agricultural research and extension
activities, and CATIE's part in them, since the beginning of the
insurrectionary movement in the late 1970's. The conflict has
not only diverted resources from agricultural research and
extension, so obvious in the remoter northern zones of the
country, but has also created a highly unstable political and
institutional environment within the public sector.

The organizational scheme for agricultural research in El
Salvador can accommodate systems research. Activities within the
Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia are organized through
five centros, or centers, charged with natural resources, crop
technology, livestock development, fisheries development, and
agricultural training. Systems research in the country is
conducted by the Centro de Tecnologia Agricola, or CENTA. It is
mostly with CENTA that CATIE has interacted and collaborated
since 1977.

Created in about 1970, CENTA is today organized into four
divisions responsible for crop research, crop extension, seed
technology, and seed certification. The crop research
division(Division de Investigacion Agricola) is further organized
into several departments among which are the Department of
Production Systems for Small Farmers(Departamento de Sistemas de
Produccidn para PequeHos Agricultores), formed in 1984, and the
Department of Economics and Statistics(Departamento de Economia y
Estadistica). This latter department manages a program called
Technology Validation and Transfer, initiated in 1983 but which
follows a precedent established in 1979. The crop extension
division of CENTA is further organized at the regional level,
with a director and assistant director based in each of the four
regions, where extension agencies are scattered.

CENTA has been rocked by instability and financial
crises since the coup d'etat in 1979. It has had six directors
since that time, and the position was vacant at the time of my
visit. Virtually all of CENTA's personnel and material resources
were diverted to implement the agrarian reform in 1980. Several


















EL SALVADOR


History and Setting


El Salvador is a country at war with itself. The war has
profoundly conditioned agricultural research and extension
activities, and CATIE's part in them, since the beginning of the
insurrectionary movement in the late 1970's. The conflict has
not only diverted resources from agricultural research and
extension, so obvious in the remoter northern zones of the
country, but has also created a highly unstable political and
institutional environment within the public sector.

The organizational scheme for agricultural research in El
Salvador can accommodate systems research. Activities within the
Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia are organized through
five centros, or centers, charged with natural resources, crop
technology, livestock development, fisheries development, and
agricultural training. Systems research in the country is
conducted by the Centro de Tecnologia Agricola, or CENTA. It is
mostly with CENTA that CATIE has interacted and collaborated
since 1977.

Created in about 1970, CENTA is today organized into four
divisions responsible for crop research, crop extension, seed
technology, and seed certification. The crop research
division(Division de Investigacion Agricola) is further organized
into several departments among which are the Department of
Production Systems for Small Farmers(Departamento de Sistemas de
Produccidn para PequeHos Agricultores), formed in 1984, and the
Department of Economics and Statistics(Departamento de Economia y
Estadistica). This latter department manages a program called
Technology Validation and Transfer, initiated in 1983 but which
follows a precedent established in 1979. The crop extension
division of CENTA is further organized at the regional level,
with a director and assistant director based in each of the four
regions, where extension agencies are scattered.

CENTA has been rocked by instability and financial
crises since the coup d'etat in 1979. It has had six directors
since that time, and the position was vacant at the time of my
visit. Virtually all of CENTA's personnel and material resources
were diverted to implement the agrarian reform in 1980. Several











vehicles were either taken or burned by the guerrillas, and
little operating money remained for research and extension. In
1982, the entire Ministry of Agriculture was restructured as part
of a decentralization effort. Under the new structure, all
activities were to be handled through three institutes, and the
country was divided into four regions. CENTA lost its name and
was absorbed by one of those institutes, the Salvadoran Institute
for Agricultural and Fisheries Research(ISIAP). ISIAP was to be
responsible for research over a wide spectrum--livestock, forests
and fisheries, and all crops, including coffee--as well as for
seed production and certification. The reorganization placed
agricultural extension in a separate institute. This was the
first time that crop extension had been divorced administratively
from research since the two were united under CENTA in 1973.

Another reorganization of the Ministry a year later, in
January of 1983, returned the previous structure, including the
CENTA name, but with the difference that coffee, livestock, and
fisheries research would not be conducted by CENTA. It is the
1983 structure that is first described above. I was told that
there was on paper a plan to reorganize the Ministry once more,
again to achieve decentralization.

Research and extension are highly politicized in El
Salvador, and there is much personnel instability, especially at
the higher levels.

The history of farming systems research in the country
goes back to the early 1970's and. the CENTA economics department,
created in 1972. A pioneer in Asian cropping systems research at
IRRI passed through El Salvador on his way to CATIE in 1973 and
gave a seminar on multiple cropping to the economics department.
The seminar stimulated considerable enthusiasm within the
department, which by 1984 was experimenting with associations of
corn, beans, and radishes, with either tomatoes or cucumbers
twining around the corn stalks. The department did its first
diagnostic survey in 1976, in the arid northeastern region of the
country. It was then that CENTA researchers became aware of the
extent of small-farm agriculture in the region, and of how little
research had to offer them.

In 1979, a multidisciplinary team called
INVEXT(Investigacion y Extension) was created within CENTA to
test in different parts of the country the most promising
technologies developed by research. The team was composed of
both researchers and extensionists, and was supported by a
CENTA-BID project as well as by CIMMYT and CATIE. This was an
important effort historically to coordinate research and
extension for work in the field with small farmers. The INVEXT
team set a precedent for the Technology Validation and Transfer
program, initiated by the CENTA economics department in 1983 to
address a perceived need for an intermediate stage between












research and extension. When CENTA began implementing the
agrarian reform in 1980, all other activities, including those of
the INVEXT team, declined sharply. CATIE, working alone,
continued with some of the testing.

The Department of Production Systems for Small Farms was
created within CENTA in 1984, as already noted.


CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact


All of the farming systems work under both CATIE-ROCAP
projects has been conducted in a belt running across northern El
Salvador. The northern zone is agroecologically harsh: its clay
soils, the poorest in the country, contrast sharply with the
alluvial soils along the southern coast, and the rich volcanic
soils of the coffee zone. Corn and sorghum is a common
association. The north also receives the brunt of the canicula,
a devastatingly dry period within the rainy season that affects
about a third of El Salvador. The growing rains cease during
June, when crops are in the ground, and again during late July
and early August. The onset, duration, and intensity of this
climatic phenomenon vary from year to year, and from one area to
another in a given year. CATIE conducted and published an
extensive study of this major challenge to agricultural
technology in quantitative and probabilistic terms. It likewise
conducted and published a detailed study of soils in the north.

The northern zone is also marginal politically and
socioeconomically. Heavily populated by small farmers and far
from San Salvador, the north has been an area traditionally
neglected by the government. The insurrectionary movement began
in the north, where the force of it remains today. Realizing the
extreme socioeconomic marginality of the zone, the government
made it a focus for rural development from 1978 to 1980 and
initiated a program(Bienestar para Todos--"Wellbeing for All")
the main emphasis of which was agricultural technology
development and transfer. Multidisciplinary farming systems
research teams were formed to do agrosocioeconomic surveys in the
region. CATIE collaborated closely with CENTA in this effort,
beginning in 1978 under the first CATIE-ROCAP project and
continuing in 1979 and thereafter under the second one. In 1980,
CENTA personnel were diverted to assist with the agrarian reform,
leaving CATIE alone in the northern zone with little CENTA
support.


- La Trompina and Tejutla


The first CATIE resident in El Salvador arrived in












November of 1977. CENTA had asked that operations to increase
agricultural production begin in an area known as La Trompina
Alta, to the northeast of the town of Jocoro, in the Department
of Morazan. After briefly assessing conditions around Santa Rosa
de Lima, the CATIE team concluded that there was little they
could do there and asked CENTA to let them work elsewhere. The
request was both honored and denied: CATIE had to continue
working in La Trompina, but could choose another site and begin
operations there. That other site was Tejutla, in the Department
of Chalatenango. For nearly two years, therefore, CATIE worked
simultaneously in both La Trompina and Tejutla, but with greater
emphasis on Tejutla. Work was also initiated in Jocoro in 1979.
La Trompina was abandoned in 1980, and all CATIE efforts
thereafter were focused on Tejutla and Jocoro, but mainly on
Tejutla.

An area of sparse vegetation and highly eroded rocky
soils, the area of La Trompina was densely populated by small
farmers and severely affected by the canicula. The residents
were marginal people: land distribution was markedly unequal and
limited resources forced entire families to migrate seasonally
from the area to harvest coffee and cotton on the plantations.
There were always stories of sickness and death from pesticide
poisoning on the cotton plantations, where pesticides were in
heavy use.

The CATIE work in La Trompina included a rapid
survey and some experiments with associations such as
corn-sorghum, corn-pigeon pea, corn-sisal, corn-bean, and
corn-cowpea. But little was accomplished. Most of the local
crop varieties proved superior to new ones, and social tensions
were rife: there was fighting between two peasant groups, with
both of whom CATIE worked, and the guerrillas were meanwhile
organizing in the area. Amid numerous hardships and the mounting
violence, CATIE withdrew during 1979 and 1980, after a long two
years, and moved to Tejutla.

In the Department of Chalatenango, sixty-four kilometers
north of San Salvador and well to the west-northwest of La
Trompina, the municipio of Tejutla is controlled today by rebel
armies. The area suffers many of the asperities of land and
climate found in La Trompina. The terrain is sloping and the
soils are shallow, rocky, highly eroded and of low fertility.
Most of the farmers were poor; the average farm size was 1.4
hectares. The traditional farming system centered on an
association of corn and sorghum.

CATIE-CENTA began operations there in 1978, selecting the
area because of the presence of knowledgeable extension
personnel, good access roads, and a high concentration of
limited-resource farmers cultivating annual crops. CATIE
expended considerable effort in developing methodology in












Tejutla, and in training Salvadorans. The extrapolation
experiments conducted over much of Central America, discussed in
the following section, center on work there.

After an initial and thorough characterization of the
area, published.by CATIE in 1984 and which gives much emphasizes
to agroecology, experimental work was begun around the
traditional corn-sorghum system. New varieties of both crops
were tried and fertilizer levels and timing of application were
varied. The new corn variety did provide greater yields, but the
new sorghum variety was not an improvement over its creole
predecessor. Legumes such as beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas were
experimentally introduced to the corn-sorghum system to increase
the intensity of land use, as were new crops such as forage
sorghum, pineapples, plantains, avocados, leucaena, citrons, and
cultivated pastures. The CATIE-CENTA team also tried to improve
the rustic cultivation tools.

CATIE had just finished validating a corn-sorghum
association when guerrilla armies entered the area in 1982. The
research team departed and there has been no further work there
since. Tejutla is today in a rebel-occupied zone, where there
are no CENTA offices. No extension work has been conducted since
the alternative was validated, so I was unable to obtain reliable
information on the impact of the CATIE work there.


Jocoro


Located in the south of Morazan Department, Jocoro is a
municipio of San Francisco District. I visited there, going
first by air from San Salvador to the town of San Miguel, seat of
Agricultural Region IV, thence by road to Jocoro, a distance of
some twenty-five kilometers. All airfields were under heavy
guard. The area in and around San Miguel is at present
controlled by the Salvadoran Army, although the town has twice
fallen to the rebels for brief periods of time. Like San
Salvador, it was brimming with refugees from the countryside.
The highway between San Miguel and Jocoro was heavily guarded,
especially the bridges, and soldiers stopped the few circulating
vehicles at several points to check documents and conduct
searches. An occasional helicopter lumbered overhead, patrolling
the countryside. At one point on the road, a couple of soldiers
relieved the tedium by firing automatic rifles at vultures in a
nearby tree.

In Jocoro the canicula is severe and the acid soils are
rocky, of shallow depth, and with little capacity for water
retention. Yet I was told that farmers there had more resources
than those in either La Trompina or Tejutla. Many of them have
cattle and consume as well as market dairy products, thereby












reducing their reliance on the traditional corn-sorghum
association. But they are still marginal, like the land on which
they live. Jocoro was selected for CENTA-CATIE work by the
Ministry of Agriculture because it fulfilled the criteria of easy
access, the presence of extension agents from both CENTA and the
Center for Livestock Development, and homogeneity with respect to
agroecology, the density of small farms, and socioeconomic
characteristics.

The war lingered in the minds of those research and
extension officials with whom I talked. It was variously
referred to as "the crisis," "the political problem," or as
merely "the problem." The region was often described as "a
conflictive zone." Obviously disquieted and made anxious by the
war, some of the officials seemed to feel that they and the
region had been abandoned by the government. They were far from
San Salvador, they said, and thus received little attention and
fewer resources.

CATIE first entered Jocoro in 1979, under the second
CATIE-ROCAP project. As in Tejutla, an extensive
characterization of the area was conducted, but not published
until 1984. In Jocoro CATIE helped CENTA with the on-farm
testing of corn varieties that led to the development of the
drought-tolerant CENTA M3-B, released in 1982. The new variety
was later--in 1984--validated on thirty-two farms in the area.
The selection phase that led to the development of CENTA M3-B was
coordinated by CIMMYT, in close collaboration with ICTA in
Guatemala. The new variety is a blend of the eight best families
of the ICTA B-1 variety.

CATIE experimented with cowpeas and sorghum(CENTA S-2, a
grain and forrage sorghum) before beginning research on mixed
systems in 1982, and also with pigeon peas as a relay crop with
corn. CENTA has received support from CATIE in a miscellany of
waYs. Only last year, for example, CATIE helped them validate an
association of climbing beans and corn: CATIE provided technical
assistance and the bean seeds. And with seeds supplied by CATIE,
the home demonstration agent in San Miguel has promoted,
apparently with some success, both cowpeas and pigeon peas among
housewives in the area; twenty-two women were experimenting with
cowpeas during my visit, mixing them with corn to make tortillas.
A current limitation to promotion on a greater scale is the lack
of seeds.

Under much pressure from ROCAP, CATIE began to work with
mixed systems in Jocoro in 1982, after a delay caused by friction
in Turrialba between the Departments of Crop and Animal
Production. The research on mixed systems involved reorienting
the previous crop research to address the problems of a more
comprehensive system that now included dairy cattle. The major
limitation to dairy production was the canicula. Until recent












times, cattle during this dry season were fed cotton-seed flour
imported from the cotton areas along the coast. When the rebels
disrupted cotton production as part of their campaign to deprive
the government of foreign exchange, the cost of the flour became
prohibitive.

The key to the mixed system alternative developed in
Jocoro, and under validation during my visit, is silage for the
dry season, made using a mixture of cowpeas and sorghum(CENTA
S-2). In addition to sorghum, the full package includes
corn(CENTA M3-B) planted in association with cowpeas. As a
legume, cowpeas restore nitrogen to the soil and supply vegetable
protein to the household diet. A small section of land is fenced
to serve as a silo, where the cowpeas and sorghum are cut and
piled, then compacted by human feet. The mixture is covered with
a sheet of plastic and allowed to ferment. The design of the
technology sought both simplicity and economic viability. Only
cowpeas are new, and farmers will have to fertilize the
sorghum--they already fertilize corn. Livestock recommendations
in the package include little that was not already recommended
for the area--vaccinations and vermifuges, for example.

There are two potential problems with this alternative:
the availability of seeds and credit. Seeds for corn(CENTA
M3-B), sorghum(CENTA S-2), and cowpeas have not been readily
available to date(On the day that I left El Salvador, a local
newspaper announced a large shipment of CENTA M3-B seed corn to
the north). For the experiments and validation trials, CATIE
supplied the seeds--and other required inputs as well. The seed
problem may prove especially refractory. According to one
well-placed source, the seed technology unit of CENTA will not
multiply seed without some guarantee of reimbursement. They have
asked the extension service on occasion for prior deposits.

Whether the alternative will require the availability of
credit is moot. If credit is needed, however, it\may not be
available. The loan programs of local credit banks are reputed
to be unsuited to the needs of limited-resource farmers.


Candelaria de la Frontera


CATIE began operations in Candelaria de la Frontera in
1982, after guerrilla forces entered Tejutla. Located in the
west of the country near the Guatemalan border, Candelaria was
selected in part because it offered the prospect of a peaceful
and sustained work effort, a luxury that CATIE had never enjoyed
in El Salvador.

Achievements were modest during the year and a half of
work there. The climate, soils, traditional agricultural












practices and economy of the zone were characterized. Variety
trials were conducted with yuca, but there was a major problem
with thievery--because farmers in the area wanted to experiment
with the new crop, I was told. Also, scavenging pigs damaged the
trials. Some work was also done with corn-bean associations,
trying new varieties of both. But the alternatives were not
significantly better than technologies already in use by local
farmers.

I was not able to obtain further information on activities
in Candelaria, though it was rumored that CENTA was conducting
validation trials in the area, probably with corn-bean
associations.


Other CATIE Activity and its Impact


Extrapolation


The development of a methodology to extrapolate
agricultural technologies from one site to another has been one
of the more controversial endeavors of CATIE under the second
project. And it may have been the most esoteric. Initiated and
strongly supported by ROCAP, the activity has been an important
part of the project. Reliable information on extrapolation
research was hard to obtain, and often contradictory. The
effort, which was led by biometricians, began in El Salvador and
spanned three other countries--Honduras, Guatemala(see my
comments under Guatemala), and Nicaragua.

Extrapolation has its origins in the Central American
Soil Fertility Project. That project worked with soil
analogues--the term "extrapolation" did not come into use until
the second CATIE-ROCAP project--and sought to characterize
Central American soils and climate as a way to facilitate
technology transfer. A technology viable in one soil-climatic
zone, it was reasoned, could more easily be transferred to
another similar zone, the "analogue" of the first. Only the
variables of soil and climate were considered. As the Soil
Fertility Project drew to a close, ROCAP folded it into the
cropping systems work of the new CATIE-ROCAP project, thus sowing
the seeds for extrapolation.

That technologies might be extrapolated from one zone to
another was a seductive idea. It offered a way out of what some
felt to be the site-specific limitation of farming systems
research, no small attraction to resource-poor national research
institutions and economy-minded donors. The idea also squared
nicely with the notion of technology transfer, a major emphasis
of the second CATIE-ROCAP project.












The work to develop an extrapolation methodology centered
on Tejutla and corn-sorghum associations. The presence of this
association, common over much of northern El Salvador-as well as
in other dry areas of Central America, was thought to be a
reliable indicator of limited-resource farms and subsistence
agriculture with high risk in dry areas.

The theory behind extrapolation held that if the
environmental factors(mainly soils and climate) most critical to
the biological behavior of this association could be determined
with precision in Tejutla, then an improved production technology
developed for the association there could be extrapolated to
other similar agroecological zones--in El Salvador and other
countries of the region--where the same association was found.

Just how socioeconomic factors figure in this theory, or
whether they do, remains unclear. My efforts to elicit
clarifying information from those individuals most closely
associated with the activity--the few who remain at
CATIE--produced conflicting responses. On the one hand, I was
told that such factors did not figure, nor did they have to.
Farmers everywhere with the corn-sorghum association were ipso
facto marginal in socioeconomic terms, so that a viable
alternative developed in Tejutla would be viable elsewhere, or at
least approximately so; and what it lacked in viability could be
corrected through local adjustments in the technology. On the
other hand, I was told that efforts to .incorporate socioeconomic
variables to the mathematical extrapolation model--and the effort
did involve some rigorous mathematical modeling--made for an
unmanageable complexity, and on this complexity the model
foundered and the work was abandoned. According to one source
close to the extrapolation work, the effort got too technical for
everybody--but, continued the source, CATIE researchers learned
much from the activity.

The effort, to which the corn-sorghum association was
merely incidental, did not to my knowledge produce a methodology
for the extrapolation of technologies. I am not able to speak to
the benefits of this research, which may have been considerable,
but if so, they seem to have been mainly internal to CATIE.


The FSR Network


As in Guatemala, CATIE initiated the creation of a farming
systems research network in El Salvador two years ago.
Twenty-seven researchers belonged to the group at one time, and
there have been two plenary meetings since its founding. A
newsletter was published for a brief time, edited by the CATIE
resident. But for lack of external support, the network has not
been active for a year.












Training


I gathered little information while in El Salvador on
CATIE's considerable efforts to train Salvadorans. CATIE has
conducted numerous short courses in the country, and before the
agrarian reform diverted CENTA personnel, CATIE provided about
eighteen months of in-service training to five CENTA employees
working in Tejutla, paying their salaries during that time.


The CATIE Methodology


It is difficult to assess the impact of the CATIE
methodology. CATIE entered the country in the 1970's, followed
by CIMMYT; and only recently, the sondeo, or rapid survey, made
famous by ICTA in Guatemala, arrived in El Salvador. It is
probably fair to say that the CATIE methodology has had the most
impact. Certainly CATIE has made heroic efforts to promote it.

It would seem more than coincidental that the Departamento
de Investigation en Sistemas de Produccion para Pequenos
Agricultores, created last year, bears the exact name of the
CATIE-ROCAP project; and that the program Validacion y
Transferencia de Tecnologia, of the CENTA economics department,
bears the exact name of one of the phases of the CATIE
methodology. Both names suggest indirect CATIE influence.

In the minds of several of the Salvadorans that I met,
CATIE is closely associated with characterization and validation
activities, perhaps no surprise given the strong emphasis that
CATIE has given to both in the country. As one CENTA official
said, "The CATIE methodology is not for generating technology,
but for validating and transferring it."

It is probably true that the CATIE presence in El Salvador
has done much to sensitize Salvadorans to the need for a systems
perspective and to its potential use in developing and testing
technologies in farmers' fields. If so, this is no small
achievement.


Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


It is not easy to conduct farming systems research in the
vortex of a guerrilla war. The approach is challenged at its
operational essence--mobility. Rebel forces enter an area where
research on farmers' fields is underway and declare by radio a
paro, or ban on movement. While the ban is in effect, it is not
advisable to travel in order to monitor or harvest on-farm












Training


I gathered little information while in El Salvador on
CATIE's considerable efforts to train Salvadorans. CATIE has
conducted numerous short courses in the country, and before the
agrarian reform diverted CENTA personnel, CATIE provided about
eighteen months of in-service training to five CENTA employees
working in Tejutla, paying their salaries during that time.


The CATIE Methodology


It is difficult to assess the impact of the CATIE
methodology. CATIE entered the country in the 1970's, followed
by CIMMYT; and only recently, the sondeo, or rapid survey, made
famous by ICTA in Guatemala, arrived in El Salvador. It is
probably fair to say that the CATIE methodology has had the most
impact. Certainly CATIE has made heroic efforts to promote it.

It would seem more than coincidental that the Departamento
de Investigation en Sistemas de Produccion para Pequenos
Agricultores, created last year, bears the exact name of the
CATIE-ROCAP project; and that the program Validacion y
Transferencia de Tecnologia, of the CENTA economics department,
bears the exact name of one of the phases of the CATIE
methodology. Both names suggest indirect CATIE influence.

In the minds of several of the Salvadorans that I met,
CATIE is closely associated with characterization and validation
activities, perhaps no surprise given the strong emphasis that
CATIE has given to both in the country. As one CENTA official
said, "The CATIE methodology is not for generating technology,
but for validating and transferring it."

It is probably true that the CATIE presence in El Salvador
has done much to sensitize Salvadorans to the need for a systems
perspective and to its potential use in developing and testing
technologies in farmers' fields. If so, this is no small
achievement.


Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


It is not easy to conduct farming systems research in the
vortex of a guerrilla war. The approach is challenged at its
operational essence--mobility. Rebel forces enter an area where
research on farmers' fields is underway and declare by radio a
paro, or ban on movement. While the ban is in effect, it is not
advisable to travel in order to monitor or harvest on-farm












trials, or to otherwise communicate with farmers. So the vital
continuity of a farming systems research effort is lost. Even
when the rebels do not declare such a ban, there is always the
chance of an encounter with a roving guerrilla band in the
countryside. Although such encounters are rarely violent, they
do make for certain anxieties. At least one CENTA vehicle was
taken by guerrillas in the San Miguel area--and has not been
returned.

Beyond this, there is the issue of farmer confidence,
since peasant farmers are often pawns in the conflict between the
government and the rebels. It can be very difficult for
researchers to gain and maintain that confidence in such a
setting. And there is also the problem of depopulation of the
countryside, so obvious in the crowded cities and towns of El
Salvador. Collaborating farmers sometimes abandon their farms
while research trials are underway. The depopulation has further
created a severe labor shortage in some of the rural areas of the
north.

CATIE has had to work, frequently alone, in the most
inhospitable areas of El Salvador. There has too often been no
time to complete what it set out to do: rebel armies enter, the
violence mounts, and CATIE moves on--from La Trompina to Tejutla
to Candelaria. The government has not always been able to
provide support: in 1980, virtually all CENTA personnel were
detailed to implement the agrarian reform. I was impressed with
the numerous, even petty ways that CATIE has supported government
efforts in the San Miguel-Jocoro area. CATIE has provided
technical assistance, seeds, agricultural inputs, vehicles and
their maintenance, gasoline, seasonal labor, and per diems.
CATIE has filled a vacuum and done what the government could not
have done for a chronic want of resources, human and material.

Institutional instability and frequent government
personnel changes have placed an added burden on CATIE. The
management of institutional relations has consumed an inordinate
amount of time. A new regional research or extension director
arrives, and the CATIE resident must establish relations anew,
explaining past and present activities and plans for the future.
In the mixed system research in Jocoro, CATIE has worked not only
with CENTA, but also with the Direccion General de Ganaderia,
which handles livestock research and extension. The offices of
these two branches of the Ministry are forty kilometers apart.
And now CATIE wants to address the question of agricultural
credit for the Jocoro area. Such management requires much time
and energy of the CATIE resident, who must also function as a
technical expert. The management problem is compounded by the
notorious lack of coordination of research, extension, and seed
technology in El Salvador.

Aside from some concern by CENTA that CATIE had moved its









23

national office from CENTA headquarters in the San Andres Valley
to San Salvador, I encountered only a single CENTA criticism of
CATIE. It was said that CATIE had special projects and operated
independently of CENTA. But this criticism, uttered with
much vigor in other countries of the region, was made almost
parenthetically in El Salvador, and seemed to refer mostly to
CATIE's work in Tejutla. But the criticism was quickly followed
by an acknowledgement of CATIE's contribution of much-needed
resources at the local level, and a recognition that CATIE could
never operate under the constraints of the heavy Salvadoran
bureaucracy. At the local level, as I observed in the San
Miguel-Jocoro area, CATIE has been extremely well received, in
part because of this same material contribution, but also,
perhaps, because of a feeling by regional government personnel
that they have been forgotten by San Salvador.

















HONDURAS


History and Setting


The Secretarla de Recursos Naturales(SRN) is responsible
for agricultural research and extension in Honduras. Crops fall
to the Direccion General de Agricultura, cattle to the Direccidn
General de Ganaderia. There is no small-animal unit, but neither
is there an official interest in small animals. Each direction
is composed of two units, one for research and the other for
extension. In each of the eleven regions, there is a coordinator
charged with administering all SRN activities in that region.
This national structure, which dates from 1983, is replicated at
the regional level, where the SRN regional coordinator has under
him two research offices, one for crops and the other for cattle,
and two extension offices, one for crops and the other for
cattle. Extension agencies are scattered about the regions and
some of them have resident researchers and extensionists. Most
of CATIE's work in Honduras under the second CATIE-ROCAP project
has been conducted in the region of Comayagua(Region 11). And
CATIE has interacted mainly with SRN offices.

In Honduras, agricultural research and extension are
plagued by low salaries, high personnel turnover, and job
insecurity. The national head of crop extension had been in
office only twelve days when I arrived, and Comayagua has had
four regional directors over the last three years. Many
employees work under three-month contracts only, which must be
renewed through a lengthy process at the end of the term.
Meanwhile, salaries fall months in arrears, or sometimes are not
paid at all.

An agreement was signed between CATIE and the Government
of Honduras in December of 1975. The first CATIE resident
arrived six months later and established a base in San Pedro
Sula, in the north of the country. Financed by the first
CATIE-ROCAP project, research was conducted on multiple cropping
in Yojoa, Agua Sucia, and Cuyamal. Cropping associations in the
area were studied and efforts were initiated to develop a
methodology for on-farm research. Work in this northern region
was discontinued when the CATIE resident was transferred to
Comayagua in 1978 by agreement with the SRN. In Comayagua, he
was to provide support to the newly-formed Unidad Central de
Investigation Agricola.

















HONDURAS


History and Setting


The Secretarla de Recursos Naturales(SRN) is responsible
for agricultural research and extension in Honduras. Crops fall
to the Direccion General de Agricultura, cattle to the Direccidn
General de Ganaderia. There is no small-animal unit, but neither
is there an official interest in small animals. Each direction
is composed of two units, one for research and the other for
extension. In each of the eleven regions, there is a coordinator
charged with administering all SRN activities in that region.
This national structure, which dates from 1983, is replicated at
the regional level, where the SRN regional coordinator has under
him two research offices, one for crops and the other for cattle,
and two extension offices, one for crops and the other for
cattle. Extension agencies are scattered about the regions and
some of them have resident researchers and extensionists. Most
of CATIE's work in Honduras under the second CATIE-ROCAP project
has been conducted in the region of Comayagua(Region 11). And
CATIE has interacted mainly with SRN offices.

In Honduras, agricultural research and extension are
plagued by low salaries, high personnel turnover, and job
insecurity. The national head of crop extension had been in
office only twelve days when I arrived, and Comayagua has had
four regional directors over the last three years. Many
employees work under three-month contracts only, which must be
renewed through a lengthy process at the end of the term.
Meanwhile, salaries fall months in arrears, or sometimes are not
paid at all.

An agreement was signed between CATIE and the Government
of Honduras in December of 1975. The first CATIE resident
arrived six months later and established a base in San Pedro
Sula, in the north of the country. Financed by the first
CATIE-ROCAP project, research was conducted on multiple cropping
in Yojoa, Agua Sucia, and Cuyamal. Cropping associations in the
area were studied and efforts were initiated to develop a
methodology for on-farm research. Work in this northern region
was discontinued when the CATIE resident was transferred to
Comayagua in 1978 by agreement with the SRN. In Comayagua, he
was to provide support to the newly-formed Unidad Central de
Investigation Agricola.












The Unidad Central, or Central Unit, was the product of a
series of fundamental changes in the organization of agricultural
research and extension that took place during the 1970's. The
SRN was restructured in 1975 and the Direccion General de
Operaciones Agricolas(DGOA) was formed. The DGOA included the
Program Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria(PNIA) and its
extension counterpart, the Programa Nacional de Extension
Agropecuaria(PNEA). With the restructuring, the SRN was
decentralized to the regions and efforts were begun to make
research and extension more responsive to regional needs.

The period from mid-1977 until mid-1980 was a time of
ferment and flourescence in the history of Honduran agricultural
research and extension. As in the other countries of Central
America, research theretofore had been organized by commodity and
discipline and was conducted entirely on experiment stations.
Special attention was given to plant breeding, and well trained
researchers were few.

Six PH.D.'s, four foreigners and two Hondurans, arrived in
Honduras in 1977 at the invitation of the SRN Secretary to advise
on agricultural research matters. An innovative and open-minded
man, the Secretary gave the six the general charge of making
agricultural research in Honduras more productive. And he gave
them much latitude to achieve this. The two Hondurans led the
effort.

The group of six were to advise the experiment stations
and did not initially have a systems orientation. After
pondering how they might make research more productive, they
decided on a systems strategy. The CATIE resident in Honduras,
now interacting with the group, was influential in that decision.

The group established their base in Comayagua, to the
north of Tegucigalpa, and formed the Unidad Central. They
planned to develop a methodology for working with small farmers
and to train Honduran researchers and extensionists in it. And
they would also advise the research stations. The Unidad
received financial support from the first CATIE-ROCAP project and
from IDRC of Canada. Salaries of the Comayagua six were paid by
the SRN, in national currency. Throughout their work in
Honduras, the group was faced with an entrenched opposition to
systems thinking and the methods they promoted.

There was considerable interaction between the Unidad
Central and ICTA in Guatemala. Guatemalans went to Honduras and
Hondurans went to Guatemala. The Rockefeller Foundation posted
an advisor to PNIA from 1979 to 1981, a man who had served in a
similar capacity with ICTA during the formative years of that
institution.

The Unidad soon conducted surveys in the Departments of












Comayagua, municipios of Comayagua, El Rosario, and San Jeronimo;
Intibuca, municipio of La Esperanza, in the Honduran high
country; and La Paz, municipio of La Paz. It was agreed that
CATIE would work in all of those municipios except San Jeronimo.

From 1978 until 1981, the Unidad trained thirty Hondurans
in the methods of farming systems research. The students,
carefully selected from the agricultural college, spent nine
months taking classes in Comayagua and applying their knowledge
on farms of the region. They did theses under the supervision of
the six Ph.D.'s and the. CATIE resident. CATIE also played an
important training role at the Unidad Central, sending lecturers
from Turrialba and conducting local seminars and workshops for
the students.

From the middle of 1977 until the middle of 1980, the
Unidad Central, supported by CATIE, worked with brilliance to
reorganize the way agricultural research and extension were
conducted in Honduras. They sought to reorient Hondurans to
systems thinking, giving much emphasis to the training of
students as a way to achieve the goal. Relations between CATIE
and the Unidad were excellent.

But the flourescence radiating from Comayagua began to
darken during the second half of 1980. The next year and a half
saw the progressive undoing of much of the work of the previous
three years. The innovative SRN Secretary was replaced by one
unsympathetic to systems research, to the reorganization
underway, and to the Unidad Central. And the traditional forces,
which had continuously offered strong resistance to the Unidad,
assumed the reins'of power. The group of six had by now grown
tired of job insecurity and lethargic bureaucracy; they worked
under contracts that were renewed yearly, with delays of four and
five months without pay. By 1982, they had abandoned the Unidad
Central and gone their separate ways.

There was some dissent also on the CATIE team regarding
the planting of horticultural crops. A specialist arrived in
1980, hired by the CATIE-ROCAP project to work with horticultural
crops in the Comayagua Valley and La Esperanza. But he wanted to
plant them in sole stands rather than in associations with other
crops. CATIE and ROCAP insisted on associations and the
specialist's contract was not renewed. There was also
instability in the local CATIE leadership during the first three
years of the second CATIE-ROCAP project, for there were four
CATIE residents in Honduras between 1978 and 1982.

By February of 1982, when the current CATIE resident
arrived in Honduras, CATIE was alone in La Esperanza and the
Comayagua Valley, abandoned to the whims of an unfriendly SRN
regime. There was no resident in Honduras during the six months
prior to February of 1982. Honduran technicians in La Esperanza












and El Rosario worked without direction on the experiments during
this interval. In so doing they clashed with the new powers in
SRN, for their allegiance was to CATIE. When the new resident
arrived in February, he found chaos in the fields: the trials had
not been cared for, fertilizer had not been applied, and weeds
were everywhere.


CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact


I visited the areas of La Paz and San Jerdnimo, both in
the Comayagua Valley, traveling by car from Tegucigalpa, about
100 km. to the south of the town of Comayagua, where I talked
with SRN officials. Much of the tortuous mountain road between
Tegucigalpa and Comayagua winds through extensive pine forests
before descending into the wide Comayagua Valley, a major
agricultural zone of Honduras. Acacia trees aflame with orange
flowers were numerous along the valley highway. A military air
base spreads across the valley floor near Comayagua. A large
cargo plane, the kind that carries heavy hardware, rested on the
tarmac. Today, American soldiers are billeted in a jumble of new
wooden structures on the base, and American military police
assist Hondurans in patrolling the night spots in Comayagua on
weekends. As in El Salvador, all bridges between Tegucigalpa and
Comayagua were under guard.

Site of the first government-built irrigation scheme in
Honduras, the valley regularly experiences severe and continuous
draught from December until June. According to one estimate,
about ten percent of the arable land is under irrigation. The
valley also has one of the country's model cooperatives, Fruta
del Sol, now receiving support from USAID. Local market crops
include tomatoes, onions, sweet corn, watermelon, and bell
peppers. Among the export crops are cucumbers and acorn squash.
Many farmers in the valley also have dual-purpose cattle.


La Esperanza and El Rosario


The new CATIE resident arrived in Comayagua in 1982 amid
much pressure from ROCAP to validate the alternatives that had
been developed up to that time in El Rosario, La Esperanza, and
La Paz. This pressure was consistent with the new ROCAP interest
in technology validation and transfer for the project, which was
to end in late 1983.

I.n La Esperanza the project had worked with a corn-bean
association, where the experimental variables were planting
distance and the application of fertilizers and insecitides. The
alternative was validated on thirty farms in 1982 and 1983.












Another corn-bean alternative was developed in El Rosario, but
the beans were planted in relay rather than in association. That
alternative was also validated on thirty farms at about the same
time, but later proved uneconomic. The part played by SRN
personnel in La Esperanza and El Rosario from about 1980 through
1983 seems to have been minimal.

The CATIE crop work in La Esperanza, El Rosario, and La
Paz from 1978 until the validation period in 1982 and 1983 is
described in five publications, three of them detailing the
technological alternatives developed for the three areas and two
giving a characterization of the agroecology of those areas. The
documents were published by CATIE in 1984.


La Paz


In this part of the Comayagua Valley, the CATIE-ROCAP
project worked with corn-sorghum associations. Sorghum(creole)
is used mainly for livestock, but is consumed domestically when
corn fails. It is not an ingredient of tortillas, as in parts of
El Salvador. A corn-sorghum alternative was validated by the
project in La Paz(and Palo Pintado) in 1982 and is described in
one of the 1984 publications just mentioned. The Animal
Production Department of CATIE has also done some work in La Paz
with sugar cane and leucaena as cattle forage.

In accordance with the new ROCAP thrust, the project began
to work in mixed systems in 1983. Again, there was pressure to
develop an alternative for validation before the end of the
mixed-system extension of the project in 1985. Work had already
been conducted separately on cropping and livestock systems in La
Paz, so it was now a question of somehoww combining the two
efforts.

The unavailability of forage during the long summer dry
season is the major constraint to cattle production in the area.
The mixed alternative, planned and developed with much help from
Turrialba, first involved both cattle and pigs. The cattle were
to be fed with a cut mixture of sugar cane and leucaena, the pigs
with residues from the corn-sorghum association described above,
supplemented by pigeon peas for protein. CATIE had already
conducted experiments in Turrialba and Honduras on the use of a
cut forage mixture of leucaena and sugar cane, and the
corn-sorghum association had just been validated in La Paz. The
elements could now be combined in a mixed system. First, though,
there had to be some local varietal testing of pigeon peas.

Work on the mixed system was temporarily-halted in 1983,
when the head of the CATIE Animal Production Department refused
to continue work in mixed systems in spite of ROCAP pressure to









29


do so and ROCAP money to fund it. Also, according to one report,
researchers realized about the same time that local pigs were
free roaming and not penned, as the alternative mistakenly
assumed. Once the CATIE internal problem was resolved and the
pig part of the alternative discarded, worked resumed, and by
1984 the alternative was being tested on three farms. Those
tests continue on the same three farms today. The technology
involves the feeding of dual-purpose cattle on a cut mixture of
sugar cane and leucaena in the dry season, after the animals
finish grazing the corn stubble. The data from the trials were
being analyzed in Turrialba during my visit.

Of the CATIE technologies I encountered, this one may well
be having the greatest impact as measured by farmer interest and
acceptance, and by promotion by the local extension service.
According to extension officials, the demand by local farmers for
leucaena exceeded its supply. Leucaena is a CATIE introduction
to the valley.

I visited two of the three farms where the trials are
underway and talked at length with one of the farmers, working in
a corral at the time. Wooden feeding troughs stood in the
corral; in them, and strewn over the ground, were the remains of
leucaena and sugar cane. A cutting machine, developed by another
project in the area and adopted by CATIE for use in the mixed
system, stood in one corner of the corral. The cattle milling
about the enclosure appeared healthy and content. Just beyond
the fence was a field of leucaena. The farmer was enthusiastic
about the technology, but planned to alter it somewhat in the
future, planting more leucaena and changing its planting time. I
asked him what his neighbors were doing with their cattle at this
time. "They avert their eyes from the suffering animals," he
said. The local practice is to allow cattle to roam the area
freely as the dry season progresses, scavenging for what they can
find. I saw several of these errant beasts, lean and untended,
quite different in appearance from those in the farmer's corral.


San Jeronimo


CATIE-ROCAP project activity in San Jeronimo has been one
of support to SRN research and extension activities there. San
Jeronimo was one of the communities selected by the Unidad
Central in the late 1970's, but it was not assigned to CATIE,
which did not enter the community until 1983, well into the
second CATIE-ROCAP project. The support role of CATIE in San
Jerdnimo represents a significant departure from CATIE's usual
modus operandi in Honduras, whereby it has worked in isolation
and managed its own research operations.

The community of San Jeronimo may be unique for Honduras.












It is one of the few places today, I was told, where research and
extension operate in a concerted fashion. It is of more than
passing interest that the extensionist has been in the community
since 1978, the researcher, one of the thirty trained in systems
work by the Unidad Central during the fluorescent period, since
1980.

The focus of CATIE support in San Jeronimo has been on the
validation and transfer of locally developed technology for rice
production.
The material elements of the package include fertilizers,
especially urea, and herbicides and insecticides. The
recommendation calls for a new fertilizer formula and the early
application of herbicides, thus eliminating the need for a second
application. The validation was conducted on twenty-two farms in
1983 and 1984. I was told that about half of those twenty-two
farmers continue to use the alternative. Some of the poorer
farmers in the area are unable to obtain the necessary credit to
purchase the inputs since they do not have enough cattle, which
the bank requires as collateral for a loan. Also, the new
fertilizer formula is not always available.

CATIE has supported the validation effort by providing
technical assistance in setting up the trialsand material
assistance for implementing them--agrochemicals, vehicles and
their maintenance, gasoline for the vehicles, and salaries for
seasonal labor. CATIE has also provided support for field days.

The local researcher and extensionist would like to
continue with the validation trials this year, using other
farmers and trying different rice varieties. But they are
concerned about how they can do this because the CATIE-ROCAP
project is scheduled to end in June. Without CATIE, they say
they will have to conduct fewer trials and to reduce the area
planted to them. And they do not know how they will address the
need for mobility to establish and monitor the trials. Here, the
material contribution of CATIE to the validation effort is
revealed in stark terms.

The CATIE Methodology


As regards influence on systems methodology employed in
Honduras, my talks with Hondurans suggested an ICTA influence, at
least in terminology, for the terms they most often used for the
sequence of activities in the farming systems research process
were those of ICTA in Guatemala. Given the frequent interaction
between PNIA and ICTA during the flourescent period, this is not
surprising. -The real question is whether any systems methodology
has been much practiced by Hondurans in recent years.











The flourescent period was the result of a rare confluence
of human enthusiasm and brilliance, international monies, and the
right political moment. Such a confluence has not been seen
since late 1981, when agricultural research and extension began a
rapid descent into a dark age. Some of those individuals trained
by the Unidad Central are scattered about the country, like the
researcher in San Jeronimo, and a few work in the bureaucracy in
Tegucigalpa. But they can do little in the current political and
economic environment, and remain instead flickering reminders of
a brighter time. CATIE could not have had much influence on
systems methodology since 1982, for most of its work has been
independent of the SRN.

Should more good yet come of the flourescent period,
through a peculiar quirk of history, CATIE will have contributed
to it. CATIE provided much support to the Unidad Central,
training and otherwise, and the first CATIE resident in Honduras
greatly influenced the systems thinking of the young leaders of
the Unidad in Comayagua.


Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


As in other countries of the region, the sentiment was
voiced that CATIE should support national projects and programs
rather than have its own, where there is little interaction with
national institutions. Further, that support should respond to
the needs of the country rather than those of the funding agency.
The suggested solution to this problem was to admit Hondurans to
the planning of projects. CATIE was further criticized for being
inflexible in its planning, for not being able to alter plans
once made, and for placing activities in a rigid time frame.

The criticism that CATIE operates independently of
national programs, perhaps the most serious one, was forceful and
graphic. Indeed, two circles were drawn for me on a piece\of
paper, about two inches apart, one denoting CATIE's work site,
the other an SRN work site. I conclude that there has been
considerable tension between CATIE and SRN on this point, but did
not have time to pursue the matter adequately. The criticism
probably refers mainly to the period following the demise of the
Unidad Central and the departure from the scene of the protective
SRN Secretary and the dynamic young leaders. CATIE was left
alone when the climate changed and power was assumed by forces
inimical to the systems approach and to CATIE. The new regime,
for example, pressured for CATIE to abandon its work in La
Esperanza and El Rosario and move to Comayagua, but CATIE
insisted on remaining in those communities until its validation
work could be completed. The recent change in the CATIE modus
operandi to a support role in San Jeronimo may be an attempt to
improve relations.












Of the research and extension institutions in the five
countries I visited, those of Honduras were probably the most
impecunious. It may be no coincidence that I was twice reminded
that the government would like to have CATIE's
equipment--including a vehicle and some office furniture--at the
end of the project. Perhaps the case of San Jeronimo is
instructive: even there, where research and extension cooperate
effectively, little could have been done without CATIE's material
resources.

The poverty of national institutions, lethargic
bureaucracy--one administrator professed admiration for CATIE's
fiscal flexibility in the field--and SRI personnel instability
all tend to inhibit cooperation and favor CATIE's independent
stance. The demands of farming systems research cannot easily
accommodate those kinds of constraints.















PANAMA


History and Setting


The Instituto de Investigacion Agropecuaria de
Panama(IDIAP) was founded in 1979 as a semi-autonomous institute
within the Ministerio de Desarrollo Agrfcola(MIDA) and charged
with agricultural research in Panama. Prior to the creation of
IDIAP, agricultural research was organized along the traditional
lines of discipline and commodity.

Within IDIAP, there is a unit for crop research and one
for livestock research. The country is divided into three
regions--Eastern, Central, and Western--each with an IDIAP
regional director and under him coordinators for crop and
livestock research. About three years ago, IDIAP began to
decentralize decision-making to those regions.

There has been no extension service as such in Panama
since about 1968. Neither has there been an effective extension
function since that time, say many Panamanians,,who feel that
this has been a major problem. The Production Department of MIDA
has handled what extension that has been done, but they have
worked almost entirely with collective farms(asentamientos
campesinos) similar to the Mexican ejidos and created by the
agrarian reform initiated by General Torrijos in 1964.

About six months ago, a restructuring of MIDA brought into
existence the Servicio Nacional de Extensidn
Agropecuaria(SENAGRO) to take charge of agricultural extension in
Panama. An agreement between SENAGRO and IDIAP is now being
negotiated to facilitate cooperation between research and
extension. There is local speculation that the creation of
SENAGRO is the result of a seven-million-dollar USAID credit for
technology transfer in Chiriqui Province, where most of the food
for Panama is produced.

CATIE did not commence systems research in Panama in
earnest until 1979, with the beginning of the second CATIE-ROCAP
project and the creation of IDIAP. All project institutional
interactions since that time have been with IDIAP. CATIE played
an early advisory role to the new institute, helping it to define
a clientele, to decide where to work and what to do. CATIE
exercised a considerable influence on IDIAP at the time and
exposed it to a methodology for generating technology for small
farmers.















PANAMA


History and Setting


The Instituto de Investigacion Agropecuaria de
Panama(IDIAP) was founded in 1979 as a semi-autonomous institute
within the Ministerio de Desarrollo Agrfcola(MIDA) and charged
with agricultural research in Panama. Prior to the creation of
IDIAP, agricultural research was organized along the traditional
lines of discipline and commodity.

Within IDIAP, there is a unit for crop research and one
for livestock research. The country is divided into three
regions--Eastern, Central, and Western--each with an IDIAP
regional director and under him coordinators for crop and
livestock research. About three years ago, IDIAP began to
decentralize decision-making to those regions.

There has been no extension service as such in Panama
since about 1968. Neither has there been an effective extension
function since that time, say many Panamanians,,who feel that
this has been a major problem. The Production Department of MIDA
has handled what extension that has been done, but they have
worked almost entirely with collective farms(asentamientos
campesinos) similar to the Mexican ejidos and created by the
agrarian reform initiated by General Torrijos in 1964.

About six months ago, a restructuring of MIDA brought into
existence the Servicio Nacional de Extensidn
Agropecuaria(SENAGRO) to take charge of agricultural extension in
Panama. An agreement between SENAGRO and IDIAP is now being
negotiated to facilitate cooperation between research and
extension. There is local speculation that the creation of
SENAGRO is the result of a seven-million-dollar USAID credit for
technology transfer in Chiriqui Province, where most of the food
for Panama is produced.

CATIE did not commence systems research in Panama in
earnest until 1979, with the beginning of the second CATIE-ROCAP
project and the creation of IDIAP. All project institutional
interactions since that time have been with IDIAP. CATIE played
an early advisory role to the new institute, helping it to define
a clientele, to decide where to work and what to do. CATIE
exercised a considerable influence on IDIAP at the time and
exposed it to a methodology for generating technology for small
farmers.









34.
CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact


CATIE has done research on both cropping and livestock
systems in Panama since 1979. From its base of operations in the
city of David, capital of Chiriqui Province in the Western Region
of the country, CATIE has worked in both Chiriqui and Veraguas
Provinces. The work in Chiriqui has been with crops in the
corregimiento of Progreso, near the Costa Rican border, and with
cattle in the nearby corregimiento of Bugaba, both in Baru
District. In Veraguas, Central Region, CATIE has worked in four
corregimientos: Guarumal, Rio Grande, Quebrada Grande, and La
Piedad, all in Sona District. Both crop and livestock research
have been conducted in this area, though mainly crop research.

I flew from Panama to David, where I talked with IDIAP
regional officials and visited nearby research sites(farms) in
both Progreso and Bugaba; then went by car to the Guarumal area,
on the Pacific Coast, to visit collective farms and talk with
IDIAP officials at the Sona research station. From there I went
by car to Santiago, capital of Veraguas Province and IDIAP seat
for the Central Region, to talk again with officials. I returned
to Panama by car the same day and met with IDIAP officials for
the last time the following morning at central headquarters
before leaving the country at noon for Costa Rica.

IDIAP had just received a large USAID grant in 1979, when
CATIE entered the country under the second CATIE-ROCAP project,
and had to select eight priority areas for agricultural research.
CATIE and IDIAP together selected the sites, two of which,
Chiriqui and Veraguas, were chosen for cooperative research
between the institutions. The decision of whether to do
crop or livestock research was based on which system, crop or
livestock, was already predominant in the areas. Site selection
ended in early 1980 and the characterization phase began. At
IDIAP's request, CATIE did survey work in all eight areas before
finishing the characterization of the Chiriqui and Veraguas sites
in July of 1980. Research trials were in progress at those sites
in 1981.


Chiriquf Province


It is estimated that sixty percent of the food for Panama'
comes from Chiriqui Province--milk, basic grains, vegetables,
coffee, beef, plantains, bananas, and sugar. About half of all
IDIAP employees are based there, and more than half of IDIAP
research is conducted there.

The CATIE-IDIAP team validated a cropping alternative,
rice followed by sorghum, in Progreso in 1983. Rice and sorghum
is the traditional system there, and rice is an important cash
crop. The major components of the alternative include chemical









35
insect and weed control, chemical fertilizers, and the use of
improved varieties of both rice and sorghum. The team also
conducted experiments in the area on corn, with planting time and
spacing as the research variables.

I visited one farm in Progreso where validation trials
had been conducted and the technology package accepted, but there
was nothing in the field at the time because the farmer was
having trouble getting the necessary credit. This may have been
due to the recent government policy restricting credit for rice
as a way of reducing national production. Aside from the
implications of the new credit policy, it is hard to assess the
impact the technology has had on local farmers. There is no
active extension service in the area, no one to promote
technology and monitor its acceptance by farmers. However, a
study was conducted in Progreso by an IDIAP researcher(Ing.
Franklin Becerra) on the adoption of rice technology and the
economic benefits of rice research.

I was told that the farmer I met in Progreso was typical
for the area and I had no reason to doubt that. Farmers
there interact closely with the market for inputs and the sale of
produce, and they often rely on local merchants for technical
advice--not always reliable, so IDIAP researchers reminded me.
The farmer I met seemed very aware of the institutional and
political forces shaping his life, and receptive to the world
beyond his household and community. The same could be said for
the farmers I met in Bugaba, where livestock research was in
progress. There are many farmers like this in Panama, I was
told, more than in other countries of the region.

In Bugaba, site of the livestock research, a
diagnostic(diagn6stico estAtico, in CATIE terms) was conducted
from January through March of 1980. The diagnostic involved a
large number of survey variables and much quantification, with
all the data entering a computer file. According to one source,
much of the information has never been used. Forty farmers were
sampled in the survey, some of whom were selected for on-farm
trials.

The research was soon interrupted for a year(Sept.,
1981-Oct., 1982), when there was no resident CATIE livestock
researcher. Work was resumed in 1982 and continued until an
alternative with four components was developed. The components
correspond to the way local farmers conceptually classify their
animals: there is a calf component, a heifer component, a
milk-cow component, and a dry-cow component. The components
involve pasture management, or the use of improved pastures to
improve animal nutrition and increase productivity. The project
has worked with several grasses, including guinea grass(Panicum
maximum), cudzu(Pueraria phaseoloides), and Digitaria
swazilandensis, a close relative of pangola grass, common in
Central America. The alternative also includes a commercially
available mineral supplement and improved health care such as








36
parasite control, vaccinations, and brucellosis detection and
elimination. Reproduction management is in the package as
well--having cows and bulls together at the right time. The
alternative was tested on five farms, with validation trials now
underway on those same farms. But in contrast with the usual
CATIE validation practice, where all inputs are given to the
farmer, who provides only the labor, validation here requires the
farmer to supply both inputs and labor.

On one of the farms I visited, a team led by an IDIAP
researcher was busy tagging the ears of calves and recording
data. There seemed to be good cooperation between CATIE and
IDIAP in this livestock research endeavor.


Veraguas Province


The greatest concentration of collective farms(about
twenty-two) in Panama is found in Veraguas Province. It is
estimated that ninety percent of the agricultural production
there comes from either those farms or one or two very large
private farms. CATIE and IDIAP have worked on the collective
farms.

The alternative validated by research in the Guarumal area
in 1983 involves the planting of rice, followed by corn after a
brief resting of the land. The package has the same components
as the rice alternative for Progreso--chemical weed and insect
control, chemical fertilizers, and an improved rice variety.
According to local IDIAP researchers, farmers have taken readily
to the fertilizers and herbicides.

I met an IDIAP researcher in Guarumal who bore the title
"extension coordinator," a local position created by IDIAP in
1982 to link with MIDA extension, such as it is. I was reminded
that it is the job of IDIAP to generate technology, not to extend
it. But it may not be possible to extend the rice alternative
now, given the recent government effort to reduce rice production
through a tight credit policy. IDIAP researchers at the Sona
station are looking for research alternatives for next year to
fill the vacuum that will be caused by the drop in rice
production.

In Guarumal, cattle are just as important, perhaps more
so, than crops. CATIE-IDIAP began livestock research there in
1980, but ceased operations a year and a half later. The area
was surveyed and research begun on dual-purpose cattle,
traditional in Guarumal. The work was abandoned, so it seems,
because farmers had little interest in commercial milk
production. There was no tradition for it, despite the good
roads. Now, IDIAP talks of continuing this research; the highway
is on a milk-collection route and local farmers are reported to
be interested in commercial production.









37
CATIE-IDIAP has also done experimental work in
Guarumal(and in Progreso) with corn--planting time and plant
spacing--and with sorghum--weed and insect control,
fertilization, planting time, and plant spacing. Some work was
begun in Guarumal with forage legumes in anticipation of a
ROCAP request(which was never made) to work with mixed systems.


The CATIE Methodology


In the Guarumal area, IDIAP researchers said that the
CATIE methodology provided them with a way to approach a problem
and solve it. They plan to continue the scheme for validation
and transfer of technology in Sona District once funds from
MIDA's technology transfer project are available.

IDIAP Central Region wants to begin work soon with some of
the marginal Amerindian groups in the area, where agricultural
technology is inadequate and environmental degradation severe and
refractory. IDIAP does not have the resources for this work and
plans to seek CATIE's help as well as to follow the CATIE systems
approach in confronting the problem.

A debate over farming systems research methodology has
engaged the passions of Panamanians in recent years. The two key
actors on the methodology scene in Panama have been CATIE and
CIMMYT, both playing to an animated IDIAP audience. The work of
each is judged by Panamanians in light of work by the other. The
debate focuses acutely on work by CIMMYT in Caizan Province over
about four years, from 1979 until 1983. CATIE had begun work
there in late 1977, before, and perhaps in anticipation of, the
second CATIE-ROCAP project, which did not enter Panama until
1979. No reference is made in CIMMYT publications to this
earlier CATIE work.

The CIMMYT work in Caizan improved the traditional corn
system, whereby corn was sown broadcast with no weed control or
use of chemical fertilizers. CIMMYT introduced a new corn
variety, the use of agrochemicals, and the planting of corn in
rows. The production increase was dramatic and the adoption rate
by farmers approached 100 percent. This achievement drew much
favorable attention to CIMMYT in Panama.

The CATIE response was swift. As their argument goes, it
took neither ingenuity nor effort to achieve results given the
traditional system, especially when there was a ready market for
corn. Further, the area of influence of the new technology
embraced only fifty or so farms concentrated on 600 hectares in a
small valley. The results do not, therefore, point to the
superior merits of any research methodology, and the achievement
has been vastly inflated.

Although the debate centers on Caizan, there seem to be









38
complicating factors, which I did not have the time to sort
through. Reports suggest, for example, that the early CATIE work
in Panama(in Caizan?) sought with some persistence to promote
cropping associations in areas where there was no tradition of
them. It is true that much Panamanian agriculture follows a
monocropping pattern, and is in this regard different from that
of most of the limited-resource farms served by CATIE elsewhere
in Central America. This aberrant monocropping tradition is
itself an interesting phenomenon. But the important point is
that CATIE is seen by many Panamanians as inseparably wedded to
working with cropping associations, the contrary evidence of the
alternatives validated in Progreso and Barumal notwithstanding.

An event related to the CATIE work in those two areas has
some bearing here. At a time when work on the alternatives there
was in full flower, an advisor to the CATIE Crop Production
Department secured by ROCAP visited the CATIE work in Panama and
filed an extremely negative report. The report charged that
CATIE was not doing systems work, as stipulated by the
CATIE-ROCAP project mandate, since the alternatives did not
involve crop associations. The report must have generated a
small furor, for a ROCAP official journeyed to Panama in the
company of a distinguished IRRI cropping systems specialist to
investigate the charge. The CATIE work was soon pronounced sound
given the Panamanian setting and the matter was dismissed. This
event not only exemplifies the kind of pressures that CATIE has
had to contend with, but also the profound confusion that so
often attends farming systems research, and the peculiar
battering to which its practitioners are subjected in our time.

The CIMMYT work in Caizan and subsequent events have led
several researchers in Panama to view CATIE as too theoretical,
too occupied with the time-consuming and costly task of gathering
a miscellany of data that have no apparent purpose. As one IDIAP
researcher put it, "The CATIE methodology is lacking in dynamism
and agility. CATIE's overwhelming concern to develop a
methodology for the region blinds it to the needs and realities
of Panama."

Today, both CIMMYT and CIAT are engaged in training IDIAP
personnel in systems research. CIMMYT only recently began its
call system in Panama. CATIE's training endeavors, vigorous and
influential in the early years, have waned over time.

To conclude, CATIE's influence on farming systems research
methodology in Panama was considerable at the turn of the decade,
as IDIAP was casting about in search of a way to do agricultural
research there. But that influence declined as competing
alternatives entered the country and forced Panamanian
researchers to consider seriously--in a way that I encountered in
none of the other countries I visited--their methodological needs
as they confront Panamanian realities.








39
Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


The debate over methodology has not been the only source
of tension between IDIAP and CATIE in Panama. The management of
CATIE funds for project operations has also figured. These funds
are for operating and maintaining vehicles, for buying
agricultural inputs, and for procuring seasonal labor. CATIE has
reserved control over the disbursement of the funds for itself.
But IDIAP officials maintain that they should control that
disbursement. They say that three years ago, before IDIAP
decentralized its decision-making to the regions, the CATIE
policy made sense. Today it does not.

They say further that control of the funds gives CATIE too
much independence, thus isolating them in a way that IDIAP does
not always know what they are doing. This isolation also foments
an unhealthy dependence on CATIE of IDIAP personnel assigned to
work with them. The IDIAP researchers communicate more closely
with CATIE than with their colleagues in IDIAP. Even their
reports go first to CATIE. And CATIE cannot train the wider body
of IDIAP researchers if it works in isolation. So the IDIAP
argument runs.

The problem has a yet greater dimension, one related to
the limited resources available to IDIAP, which seems to have
fallen recently on hard times. But it may be related as well to
the way those resources are managed. It is widely rumored that
administrative support for research within IDIAP is weak. I was
told that the budget for this year, for example, had not yet been
released. At the regional operations level, there are often
insufficient funds to operate and maintain vehicles.
International donors are little help here, for they only provide
costly equipment items such as vehicles; operational costs for
gasoline, vehicle maintenance, and researcher per diems must be
borne by national programs.

There is also an indication that the personnel support
provided by IDIAP to collaborative efforts with CATIE has not
always been either stable or in sufficient quantity. Three
researchers in three years were assigned to one of the
crop-research sites, each remaining only a year. Each had to be
trained in turn. In the livestock research area of Bugaba, work
began in 1982 with five IDIAP researchers, two of whom left
within a year and a half and have not yet been replaced.

To operate in this setting, CATIE has often had to do more
than its share. Gasoline and other resources have been provided
to IDIAP researchers in order to keep operations going. In
Panama as in other countries, the requirements of farming systems
research are often not understood by either national
administrators or international donors. In the farming systems
approach, much of the research is conducted on farmers' fields,
which means that researchers must have the capacity for mobility.









Trials have to be established and frequently monitored. And once
the process begins and farmers are involved, it must be
continued; a progression of sequenced activities must occur in a
timely fashion. If a given activity in that progression does not
so occur, activities previous to it cease to have value, the
farmers' confidence is lost, and the whole research endeavor
fails. At the field operations level, therefore, research
management must have great flexibility in the use of resources.
This may be one reason why CATIE has been reluctant to relinquish
control over the disbursement of operational funds.

The independence of CATIE that is resented by IDIAP
officials turns on the control of funds--on that and nothing
more. This control undeniably gives CATIE a potential autonomy
vis-a-vis IDIAP. But that autonomy may in actuality have been
less than some of the complaints would suggest. In contrast with
criticism leveled at CATIE by research administrators in some of
the other countries I visited, at no time did anyone in Panama
accuse CATIE of operating in a vacuum, indifferent to the
interests of IDIAP and without the involvement of that
institution in the planning and execution of projects. And my
forays into the history of CATIE-IDIAP relations do indeed
suggest a high degree of involvement of IDIAP in project
undertakings. IDIAP was very involved in the livestock research
underway in Bugaba, for example, where relations between the two
institutions would appear to be excellent.

A lesser complaint, and one I encountered in other
countries, was that CATIE takes research data to Turrialba for
analysis and storage. Nationals often do not have access to it,
and any training value for them that the analysis might hold is
lost. It is my understanding that the Bugaba livestock project
recently made arrangements to do its data analysis in Panama,
thus solving that problem.

















COSTA RICA


History and Setting


Agricultural research and extension are organized along
very traditional lines in Costa Rica. Each has its own
administrative unit within the Ministerio de Agricultura y
Ganader'a(MAG). The Direccion General de Investigaciones
Agricolas(DGIA), which is charged with crop research, is
organized into several departments by discipline and
commodity--sugar cane, coffee, entomology, and soils, to name a
few. Research is conducted on five experiment stations. There
is also a Direccidn General de Salud Animal y Producci6n
Pecuaria, which seems to be mainly concerned with animal health.
In contrast with research, which has no regional manifestation,
extension is further organized into regional centers, each with
agencies scattered about the region. Those centers project the
interests of the Ministry in the countryside.

As the organizational scheme would suggest, there has been
little effort to make research respond to the needs and
opportunities of the different regions of the country. As one
Costa Rican researcher put it, "If the minister in office has an
interest in dairy production, then dairy production is promoted;
if his interest is citrus, then that gets promoted." According
to a politician in the know, the Consejo Nacional de Produccidn,
working together with MAG, formulates government agricultural
policy. The Consejo decides that there should be a production
increase of a commodity in a given region, then authorizes the
national bank to issue the necessary credit. The source goes on
to observe that a certain group of producers--"friends of the
government"--are always favored by policy and the work of MAG.
And these "friends" are all larger farmers.

MAG has shown little interest in systems research, the
existence of a cropping systems department within DGIA
notwithstanding. And there are no systems courses offered at the
University of Costa Rica. The few Costa Rican students who have
majored in farming systems research at CATIE have been unable to
exercise their interests within MAG.

This lack of interest in systems research may soon change,
however, in consequence of the reorganization of research and
extension now underway as the condition for receipt of a large

















COSTA RICA


History and Setting


Agricultural research and extension are organized along
very traditional lines in Costa Rica. Each has its own
administrative unit within the Ministerio de Agricultura y
Ganader'a(MAG). The Direccion General de Investigaciones
Agricolas(DGIA), which is charged with crop research, is
organized into several departments by discipline and
commodity--sugar cane, coffee, entomology, and soils, to name a
few. Research is conducted on five experiment stations. There
is also a Direccidn General de Salud Animal y Producci6n
Pecuaria, which seems to be mainly concerned with animal health.
In contrast with research, which has no regional manifestation,
extension is further organized into regional centers, each with
agencies scattered about the region. Those centers project the
interests of the Ministry in the countryside.

As the organizational scheme would suggest, there has been
little effort to make research respond to the needs and
opportunities of the different regions of the country. As one
Costa Rican researcher put it, "If the minister in office has an
interest in dairy production, then dairy production is promoted;
if his interest is citrus, then that gets promoted." According
to a politician in the know, the Consejo Nacional de Produccidn,
working together with MAG, formulates government agricultural
policy. The Consejo decides that there should be a production
increase of a commodity in a given region, then authorizes the
national bank to issue the necessary credit. The source goes on
to observe that a certain group of producers--"friends of the
government"--are always favored by policy and the work of MAG.
And these "friends" are all larger farmers.

MAG has shown little interest in systems research, the
existence of a cropping systems department within DGIA
notwithstanding. And there are no systems courses offered at the
University of Costa Rica. The few Costa Rican students who have
majored in farming systems research at CATIE have been unable to
exercise their interests within MAG.

This lack of interest in systems research may soon change,
however, in consequence of the reorganization of research and
extension now underway as the condition for receipt of a large











BID loan. The reorganization, sanctioned by law in March of this
year, combines research and extension into a single Direccion de
Investigaci6n y Extension Agricola at the national level, with
separate subdirecciones for research and extension. This
structure descends to the regional level, creating regional
centers with separate heads for research and extension. The new
scheme not only integrates research and extension
administratively, but decentralizes the research function to the
regions. This is novel for Costa Rica.

Central to the reorganization of MAG is the Programa de
Incremento de la Productividad Agricola, or PIPA. Financed by
BID(70%) and the Government of Costa Rica(30%), the PIPA seeks to
increase agricultural productivity through the work of its
subprograms in research, technology transfer, seed production and
distribution, and the supply of agricultural inputs. The PIPA
will not implement programs in the countryside, but rather will
fortify and amplify the agencies and programs of MAG. It will
capitalize institutions that do not belong to MAG, such as the
Department of Agronomy of the University of Costa Rica, and enter
into cooperative agreements with agricultural credit and other
agencies that bear on agricultural productivity. Perhaps most
important, the PIPA is to guide and coordinate research and
extension activities in the country.

Operating from a systems perspective, the PIPA is to make
research and extension responsive to the needs of farmers by
following a process that begins with understanding farm
conditions and farmer problems(la problematica del agricultor),
moves to technology design and testing, much of which is to be on
farmers' fields, and finally enters an extension phase.

According to my information, livestock research does not
figure in the reorganization of MAG or in the plans of the PIPA.


CATIE Activity in the Field and its Impact


The CATIE-ROCAP project began operating in 1979 in Limon
Province, eastern Costa Rica. Work centered on the canton of
Pococi, districts of Guapiles, Jimenez, Cariari, Rita and Roxana;
and on the canton of Guacimo, districts of Guacimo and Rio
Jimenez. The cantons lie in the humid tropical lowlands and are
well described in one of CATIE's characterization reports,
published in 1984. I visited both cantons.

Although most of CATIE's farming systems work under the
second CATIE-ROCAP project has been in the Pococi-Guacimo area,
there was also activity in the canton of Puriscal, San Jose
Province of Alajuela Department, from 1979 until 1982, when
operations there were halted(CATIE remained in the area, but with











another project) because of excessive operating costs. This
decision by CATIE may have been related to a marked reduction in
the number of MAG personnel assigned to the collaborative effort
in 1982. The project had entered Puriscal rather than continue
work begun under the first CATIE-ROCAP project(1975-1979) in San
Isidro, Puntarenas Department, in the Pacific region of Costa
Rica to the south. As happened later in Puriscal, work in San
Isidro became too costly, thus forcing CATIE and MAG to move. I
was not able to visit the Puriscal area, considered to be one of
the poorest in the country, but I did talk with persons involved
in the work there.


Crop Research in San Isidro and Puriscal


The research in San Isidro, under the earlier CATIE-ROCAP
project, was with corn and with the associations corn-beans and
corn-cowpeas. According to one report, the work was not
successful because the systems developed were too complex for
farmers to manage. It was a time when CATIE was still learning
to work with farmers and their systems.

The MAG-CATIE collaborative effort in the Puriscal area
from 1979 to 1982 was the nucleus of agricultural research there,
where MAG was implementing the World Bank's Training and Visit
System for extension. CATIE worked in Puriscal with
associations, which had little tradition in the area. The
associations were to help control erosion, a problem on the
cultivated slopes. In spite of severe bird damage and the loss
of some of the on-farm experimental repetitions, the project
developed a corn alternative in 1981, with variety, planting
distance, chemical weed control, and fertilization as components.
The alternative was never validated. Research was also conducted
on beans in 1981, with variety, seed treatment, and planting
density as experimental variables. The experiments could not be
completed, however, because participating farmers harvested the
beans without control. Work declined sharply in 1982 owing to.
a dearth of MAG personnel assigned to the effort. In that year,
the project conducted corn variety trials on a single farm as
well as a few experiments with bean varieties.


The Cropping Alternatives in Pococi-Guacimo


The earlier CATIE-ROCAP project had also worked in Pococi,
beginning in 1976. Experiments were conducted on the system corn
followed by corn, and on two associations, corn-yuca and
corn-yuca followed by beans that climbed the yuca stalks.

Both corn and yuca are staples in the area; yuca is












especially important on the farms with extremely limited
resources. Under the second CATIE-ROCAP project, the corn-corn
system was validated on about forty-five farms during 1982 and
1983. The corn is a local variety, and the alternative calls for
a change in plant spacing and for the application of fertilizers,
herbicides, and insecticides. There is evidence that this
alternative, or at least parts of it, has enjoyed some success
with area farmers. The credit bank of the Instituto de
Desarrollo Agrario(IDA) is using the alternative as the basis for
credit to 125 farmers, most of them in Cariari, where the
alternative was validated. One reliable source estimated that
seventy percent of the farmers in the Pococi-Guacimo area had
adopted the alternative, while another gave an estimate of
ninety-five percent, but qualified it by noting that some farmers
are varying the recommendations, or adopting only parts of the
package, mainly fertilizers and the new spacing, because of the
high cost of the agrochemicals. There was also a complaint that
banks in the area give only about half of the costs required to
produce and market a hectare of corn. I was told that the MAG
extension service is not promoting the CATIE alternative but
rather a different one.

A corn-yuca alternative was also validated for the area in
1982 and 1983. The alternative involved a new variety of y.uca, a
change in plant spacing, and chemical weed control. The key
component was to be the new variety, a rapidly maturing one that
would substantially increase production. But there were two
problems.

First, the new variety was widely rejected by farmers for
domestic use(I had no time to pursue this). Pressure to validate
the alternative(the project was to end in 1983), which was done
using only cuttings from the trial plants--the only
available--may have led researchers to overlook early farmer
reactions to the variety. And second, a sudden downward swing in
the price of yuca in 1984 made commercial production uneconomic.
Just after the alternative was validated, local banks extended
credit for yuca production. The larger farms in the area(I
understood there to be a land tenure problem) planted large areas
to yuca, thus flooding the market and driving the price down.
The banks were indemnified by the government. Banks in the area
today will not give loans for crops grown in association; whether
this was true when the alternative was first validated, I do not
know.


The Mixed System in Pococi-Guacimo


The work on mixed systems in the Pococi-Guacimo area began
in 1982. The idea was to work with pigs, feeding them with
produce from the farm. Trials were conducted with legumes,












including soybeans, to provide protein. There was no work with
improved breeds. The alternative developed has been tested on
three farms in Pococi and three in Guacimo. In addition, several
farms have been monitored to serve as controls. The alternative
has also been established on the nearby Los Diamantes experiment
station. The results of the research were being analyzed during
my visit.

The components of the alternative were described to me as
follows: a swine(creole) herd of five females and one male;
soybean meal purchased on the market; one hectare of sugar cane
for feed when other sources such as corn, yuca, and bananas are
unavailable; the residues from five hectares of corn grown for
sale and home consumption; and the residues from two hectares of
yuca grown for sale and home consumption.

The system was initially to include dairy cattle as well,
with whey for the pigs. The improvement of milking corrals, the
partitioning and improvement of pastures, and selective breeding
practices were to be components of the alternative. But little
work was done on the dairy module: there was no time for it and
no local dairy tradition. Toward the end of 1984, a dairy
installed a collecting vat in the area and some milk is now being
produced. And there is today some interest in what would have
been the dairy module of the mixed system.

It was the opinion of one area researcher that the pig
module would be more successful if an improved breed of pig were
used. The creole pig has a high fat content and there is little
market demand for it. Nonetheless, there is good evidence of an
interest in the pig module by local farmers.


The CATIE Methodology


Those few MAG researchers and extensionists who have
worked closely with CATIE over the years have probably developed
some appreciation of the CATIE methodology and its ability to
make research and extension more responsive to the needs of
farmers. But otherwise, the methodology has had little impact to
date on the way research and extension are conducted in Costa
Rica. This seems due in the main to a profound lack of
receptivity to the systems approach on the part of the
government. But as I said in the initial section of this country
report, that may soon change.

The PIPA seeks to achieve its objectives by following a
systems approach--one very like that advocated by CATIE. I saw a
hand sketch of this approach in the PIPA office of MAG. It
includes diagnosis, the on-farm testing of technologies, and a
stage called validation and transfer. The scheme, even the terms












for describing it, are strongly suggestive of the CATIE
methodology.

Two challenges await the PIPA. First, it must solve the
political problem of directing research and extension efforts at
small farmers. And second, it faces the daunting task of
reorienting traditional researchers and extensionists to systems
thinking and to on-farm research.

In a MAG brochure describing the PIPA, CATIE figures
prominently as a participant in research, in the training of
extension agents, and in the production and distribution of
seeds. If the government can successfully meet the challenges
above, and if CATIE and MAG can cooperate in a viable fashion,
CATIE may yet have a considerable impact on the way agricultural
research and extension are conducted in Costa Rica.


Institutional Relations and Operational Problems


Cooperation between MAG and CATIE over the years has been
minimal; CATIE has operated with much independence, often hiring
its own technical assistants. This has been true for the
Guacimo-Pococi area, where relations appear to have been mostly
cordial and a very limited cooperation has relied on personal
relationships. MAG officials there expressed the need for a
mechanism whereby they could know what CATIE is doing and the
results of its research. They hoped that CATIE would make its
research data available to them when it left the area.

The lack of human and material resources within MAG for
systems research is noteworthy and has conditioned its
cooperation with CATIE. MAG personnel posted to the
collaborative effort in Puriscal included an agronomist at forty
percent time and an extensionist at five percent. Another
agronomist was promised full time, but was never sent. As a
result, the project was understaffed and eventually had to leave
the area.

MAG researchers complain today about the unavailability of
vehicles and about the small per-diem allotment of 1,200 colones
per month, barely enough for a week's lunches. The presence of
CATIE in an area brings vehicles, gasoline, and
agrochemicals--all for doing on-farm research. One Costa Rican
said that if MAG extension were conducting validation trials, the
farmers would have to purchase the inputs, for extension has no
money for that. "When the CATIE-ROCAP project ends," he
continued, "MAG will abandon systems work. CATIE works with
small farmers, but MAG has no money for that."

The lack of resources is a problem in other countries of












the region too, but Costa Rica differs from them in that it has
made no commitment to small farmers or to systems research. And
this lack of commitment may explain in part the lack of available
resources: the government's priorities lie elsewhere.

I also encountered the charge that CATIE's work had
benefitted CATIE more than it had Costa Rica. There may be some
truth to this, in Costa Rica and elsewhere, if it refers to the
first CATIE-ROCAP project, when CATIE was learning about small
farmers in the region and was developing a methodology for
working with them. But in light of the government's priorities
in recent years, the charge rings hollow. One Costa Rican
researcher summed it up quite well: "The Government of Costa
Rica," he said, "simply does not know how to use CATIE."

CATIE has also had some problems on the strictly
operations side. There is evidence of the forcing of data
collection, especially on the mixed-system farms, where farmers
were visited daily, often at an inappropriate time, and became
annoyed with the procedure. This may have been caused by
pressure on CATIE researchers to meet deadlines. Those same
pressures, coupled with a shortage of cuttings and a consequent
reduction in the area planted to validation trials, may have led
researchers to overlook farmers' reactions to the new yuca
variety developed in Guacimo-Pococi.









48






ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS


In accordance with my assignment as described in an
agreement between CATIE and ROCAP, I set out to look at the
impact of the CATIE methodology(as measured by adoption by
national research and extension institutions) as well as of
technologies that had been developed by it and promoted by
national institutions. I soon realized that that impact would be
extremely difficult to assess, and consequently altered and
enlarged the scope of my work.

The countries of Central America have been exposed to
several methodological influences, as I have tried to show in
this report. The result is sometimes a methodological hybrid, or
even different methodologies holding sway in different regions of
a country. Or maybe CATIE has sensitized researchers to the need
to look at problems in a systems perspective. That too might
qualify as an impact of the CATIE methodology. This is all to
say that it can be exceedingly difficult to sort out
methodological influences for a national setting. Also, CATIE
operatives have sometimes been more flexible in practicing and
promoting the so-called CATIE methodology than some of the
sterile, formulaic descriptions of it would suggest. The
national settings have forced this flexibility. Such is the case
with the early CATIE work in the Chimaltenango area of Gdatemala,
where the CATIE resident had to trim his sails to the ICTA
methodological winds.

The promotion of technologies developed by the CATIE
methodology is no less problematic, and a caveat must be entered
here. Whether a given technology has or has not been promoted
does not necessarily reflect on CATIE. Panama, for example, has
effectively had no extension service for fifteen years, and El
Salvador has not been able to promote anything in the
rebel-occupied zones, where CATIE has worked.

For information on the impact of CATIE methodology and
technology, the reader is referred to my reports on the
individual countries, each with its peculiar institutional cast
and political problems. There, the two topics are dealt with
under separate section headings.










CATIE, National Sovereignty, and the Demands
of Farming Systems Research and Extension


CATIE has experienced a series of problems in countries of
the region that derive from conflicts between national
sovereignty and the demands of the farming systems approach to
agricultural research and extension. These problems must be
faced by any international center that intervenes in national
settings to implement this approach.

International research centers differ fundamentally from
national research institutions, for they have no countries in
which to gain experience and ply the systems craft. And to state
the obvious, there are no international farmers.

In all of the countries that I visited, there was
criticism of CATIE at high administrative levels for its alleged
autonomous behavior, either fiscal or programmatic. Expressed
differently in each of the countries, the criticism was strong in
Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama; less so in El Salvador and Costa
Rica--CATIE does not coordinate its activities with those of
national projects, CATIE works alone, CATIE has its own projects,
CATIE manages its own operational funds. Thus ran the litany.

Much of this criticism should be seen in light of the
operational requirements of farming systems research: field teams
must have the capacity for mobility--vehicles, their maintenance,
spare parts, gasoline, and per diems must all be readily
available. Farming systems research involves a timed sequence of
activities that must not be interrupted. An interruption at some
point in the sequence nullifies all previous steps, farmer
confidence wanes, and the research effort succumbs. Once the
farmer is engaged, it is imperative that the process continue.

National'researchers and extensionists most often do not
enjoy this capacity for mobility. CATIE, therefore, has
frequently provided the resources to make farming systems
research and extension possible. And to be able to do this,
CATIE has insisted on some autonomy--in the control of
operational funds, for example. Insistence on this control has
in turn provoked tensions between it and national administrators.
National researchers and extensionists at the local level, where
CATIE has operated, are poorly paid and lack resources to do any
kind of research and extension, let alone systems research and
extension. And these same personnel often feel neglected by
superiors in their own organizations. Since CATIE has resources,
national personnel at this level become dependent on CATIE.
CATIE becomes their patron, and to CATIE they render first
allegiance. And this further alienates them from their own
organizations, thus deepening tensions between their
administrators and CATIE. The vital importance of those
resources to the farming systems research effort, and national








50
institutions' chronic lack of them, may explain why CATIE is so
often seen by nationals as a provider of material goods--not that
nationals think CATIE unable to contribute in other ways too. It
might be conjectured that if CATIE were not doing farming systems
research, then there would not be this focus on its material
resources. And there may also be an element of envy behind the
administrators' criticism of CATIE. The whole problem is
confounded by a lack of understanding on the part of national
research and extension administrators--and donors--of what
farming systems research and extension require with regard to
operations and resources to finance them.

A couple of minor operational foibles have also annoyed
nationals. First, CATIE customarily sends its research data to
Turrialba for analysis, thus depriving nationals of any training
benefits that might otherwise be theirs through participation in
that analysis. CATIE was criticised in a couple of countries for
this procedure. Second, I was told that CATIE does not pay
sufficient attention to its field operatives, or to those persons
who interact frequently with local farmers. The operatives feel
that their advice is often ignored by--as one of them
said--"office researchers." If this is true, it may be related
to the haste with which CATIE sometimes works in order to keep to
donor-imposed schedules. This topic is further discussed below.

Although CATIE has theoretically collaborated closely with
national projects and programs, providing support to them in a
subservient role, the reality has often been otherwise. CATIE
has directed and implemented entire projects in areas either
assigned to it by a host government, or selected jointly.
National research and extension institutions have then-been
placed in the position of supporting CATIE, which, as this report
shows, they have not always done. There have been several
instances where CATIE has been abandoned by national institutions
and has had to work alone. In El Salvador, when implementation
of the 1980 agrarian reform demanded the exclusive attention of
all agricultural personnel, CATIE was left alone in the north.
CATIE has often filled a vacuum in El Salvador, doing what
national research and extension institutions there have not had
the resources to do. CATIE was also left alone in Honduras when
the flourescent period ended and political forces inimical to
CATIE--and to farming systems research--assumed power. The case
of Costa Rica is somewhat different, for there the government has
been indifferent to systems research and to small-farm
agriculture. But the result has been the same: CATIE has worked
alone.

This awkward position of CATIE alone, or nearly so, deeply
immersed in sovereign institutional and policy settings, bears on
another requirement of farming systems research and extension:
institutional and policy coordination. First, there must be
coordination between research and extension, no small matter in
some of the countries of the region. There must also be
coordination among institutions that supply inputs such as seeds,








51
fertilizers, and other agrochemicals; and institutions that
provide credit and market agricultural products. And there must
be a favorable policy environment for small farmers, one that is
committed to addressing their needs and that guarantees
reasonable prices for both inputs and products.

The political economies of the countries in which CATIE
has operated are profoundly unstable, as are the research and
extension institutions, where personnel changes are frequent and
unpredictable. Domestic political forces in those countries
cannot achieve the requisite institutional and policy
coordination for effective agricultural research and extension.
Is it realistic to think that CATIE can achieve this?

The depth of CATIE's immersion in the institutional and
policy environments of countries of the region warrants serious
consideration. Any evaluation of CATIE's farming systems
activities and achievements must take account of that depth, for
it links CATIE's fortunes, which have not always been good, to
forces that are entirely beyond CATIE's control. El Salvador
again provides the example. The divisions of research,
extension, and seed technology have not often operated in
concerted fashion in the areas where CATIE has worked. In
Jocoro, four separate offices have had to be coordinated:
livestock research, crop research, livestock extension, and crop
extension. CATIE has expended much effort in this coordination,
and now wants to address the problem of inadequate credit
programs for small farmers. Can CATIE manage all of this?

Once immersed in a national setting to do farming systems
research, it seems that two courses of action are open to CATIE.
First, there is the course taken in El Salvador, at least in
Jocoro, where CATIE has sought to coordinate institutions and
policies--to do, that is, what the government could not do. This
seems a hopelessly impossible task. And there is a second
course, one taken in Costa Rica and Panama, whereby CATIE does
not seek the required institutional coordination but elects
instead to operate on a narrow research front, developing a
technology and delivering it to some government agency for
disposition. Whether there is an effective extension function,
or whether the agrochemicals and credit required by the
technology are available, are not CATIE's problems. This, too,
would seem an unsatisfactory way to proceed.

Under either course of action, if CATIE really operates
alone, with minimal to no participation by national institutions,
there can be no on-the-job training benefits for nationals. And
if national research and extension institutions do not have the
resources(or do not allocate them), or the commitment, or the
institutional coordinating capacity to engage in farming systems
research and extension, what have CATIE's achievements proved?
And what have the countries gained from it all?









The Dual Track: Basic Research Versus Pragmatism


Over the years, CATIE has moved on a dual track with its
farming systems program. One track is basic research, the other
is pragmatic, applied research. The basic research track is best
exemplified by the strong thrust to develop a methodology for
farming systems research. Ardently supported by ROCAP, this
thrust has been a major part of both CATIE-ROCAP projects.
Developing methodology certainly has about it the aura-of science
and is thus in the best tradition of an international research
center. The work on extrapolation, and what some would argue to
be the excessive collection of data for farming systems research,
also fall within the tradition.

The other track, the applied track, is what farming
systems research is all about. Its concern is eminently
pragmatic, for it seeks to develop appropriate technology for
limited-resource farmers, and to do so in the most expeditious,
economic way possible. The-farming systems approach to research
has about it a sense of urgency--indeed, it developed to satisfy
an urgent need, one not being effectively addressed by the more
traditional approach, which confined itself almost exclusively to
station-based research conducted by biological scientists.

Associated with each of these tracks is a set of attitudes
and self-perceptions. Those who practice science, it is often
held, are following a higher calling in life. The science-minded
often value methodological rigor for its own sake and pursue it
without regard to any tangible returns. They have been trained
in these values and their colleagues have provided much group
reinforcement. Applied researchers, on the other hand, are more
pragmatic: they do not value methodological rigor for its own
sake, but rather require of all endeavor that it generate some
reasonably predictable, practical result in the near term.
Applied research is commonly seen as less scientific and,
therefore, less demanding intellectually. The job of the applied
researcher is not to create knowledge but to implement received
knowledge. Accordingly, applied researchers often occupy a lower
rung on the professional ladder.

It is my thesis that these two tracks, or traditions, have
not been well articulated in the CATIE-ROCAP farming systems
projects. And this lack of articulation has led some national
research and extension workers to take a dim view of CATIE. The
problem may well begin with the mandate of the CATIE-ROCAP
projects--to develop a farming systems methodology for the
region--, for CATIE, having no country, can only do this
development work in the surrounding countries. Two national
administrators described their countries as laboratories for
CATIE, another described his as a platform that supported CATIE.
In all cases, the basic question was: What is in it.for us?

The effort to develop methodology, to pursue science, has










often clashed with what national researchers are about:
increasing national food production at the lowest cost, by
whatever means. National researchers sometimes see CATIE as
pursuing its own esoteric interests, which they do not share and
which strike them as having little relevance to their needs.
As I heard in Guatemala, "CATIE researchers are thinkers, not
doers." Unlike national researchers, they are not forced to act.
CATIE's superior economic position, and its well-paid personnel
with secure jobs, may also influence the attitude of nationals
toward it.


Research on Cropping Associations as Systems Research


As the first CATIE-ROCAP project began in 1975, the
agricultural research world was discovering the rationality--both
economic and ecological--of cropping associations. Such
associations were common enough on the small farms of Central
America, and much of the early CATIE systems work sought to
understand their biological interactions. That was a major
objective of the famous Central Experiment in Turrialba.

There is the perception in both Guatemala and Panama that
CATIE works only with associations. One Guatemalan researcher,
trying somewhat clumsily to make this point, said that ICTA did
not work with systems but rather with commodities. What he meant
was that ICTA did not work with associations as such, but with
components as parts of associations, or broader systems.
Panamanians told me that CATIE tried to force associations there,
in areas where there was no tradition for them. And a dispute in
Honduras centered on whether vegetables were to be planted alone
or in associations.

Although my evidence is largely indirect, I feel strongly
that CATIE has, at certain times and places, promoted the
intrinsic value of associations. Also, I think that CATIE has
elected to operate on associations as such in its research
interventions. It has sought to develop, that is, improved
alternative associations. The association, in other words,
becomes the research object. If an association is composed of
components w,x,y,z, for example, CATIE's research object would be
w,x,y,z. Much farming systems research, however, would work only
with, say, x, but would do so in a way that the relations between
x and w,y,z--and between x and any other important component--are
considered.

If I am right about this commitment to associations, then
CATIE has operated with a fairly distinctive notion of systems
research for the Americas. Once at CATIE, I soon learned
something of the way researchers there conceptualize their domain
of intervention. According to a few key researchers, the
inclusion of livestock(or forestry) distinguishes farming systems
research from cropping systems research, where CATIE began in the









54
early 1970's. As I was told, only in recent times did CATIE
acquire the expertise to work with whole farms.

At the risk of over simplification I would summarize the
above as follows. An intervention that has as its research
object only a single crop would not qualify as systems research.
If the research object includes more than one crop, the effort
qualifies as cropping systems research. And if livestock(or
forestry components) is further added to that object, the
intervention qualifies as farming systems research. I would not
be so bold as to assert that all CATIE researchers share this
view today, or that all of them ever did. But I would argue that
the view was widespread during CATIE's formative period in the
1970's, and that it lingers today as a "deep structure" in the
minds of several key researchers.


On Donor Pressures and Interventions


Both CATIE-ROCAP projects, under which nearly all of
CATIE's farming systems research has been conducted, have been
USAID projects implemented by CATIE. Accordingly, ROCAP has
exercised much influence on the projects, intervening
programatically and pressuring CATIE periodically to achieve
specified results by given dates.

Although the basic methodology for farming systems
research was developed during the first project, the second
mandated a continuing concern with methodology, adding to it the
new thrust of technology transfer. Extrapolation research and
technology validation and transfer efforts have both been pushed
heavily by ROCAP, as has also the work in mixed systems--crops
and livestock--from 1983 until June of 1985.

ROCAP has monitored the project closely over the years and
has intervened, not always in a positive way. I related the
incident in Panama, where a ROCAP consultant challenged CATIE for
not working with associations. I also briefly cited an incident
from Honduras, where ROCXP pushed for vegetables to be grown in
associations.

There is also evidence that CATIE's rush to validate
alternatives, or to achieve some other stipulated product by a
given date, has sometimes resulted in careless workmanship, or
has created tensions between CATIE field workers and local
farmers. There may be something to learn here from CATIE's work
with yuca in Costa Rica, or its work with mixed systems there.

Effective farming systems research requires great
flexibility on the part of research: technologies must be field
tested and modified, sometimes drastically, as information from
those tests cycles back to research. This process does not
always square with the rigid AID project design, implementation,









55
and evaluation scheme. Indeed, farming systems research does not
fit the five-year AID project term. CATIE was criticized in some
of the countries for its inflexibility and the rigid time frames
of its work. ROCAP pressure for results may account for much of
this criticism.

This is all to say that any evaluation of CATIE in farming
systems research is also an evaluation of ROCAP, for the two have
been inextricably intertwined in the endeavor.

On Validation and Transfer


The implementation of the validation and transfer stage of
the CATIE methodology has been a major effort of the second
CATIE-ROCAP project since 1982, when the activity entered the
staged progression. It was conceived as transitional between the
experimentation-cum-field-testing stage, and the final stage of
dissemination to the masses of farmers. I argue here that this
stage is problematic and may need further attention.

The stage involves the validation of a promising
technology--one that has passed the testing stage--on at least
thirty farms(livestock validations seem to use fewer).
Validation plots(for cropping technologies) are larger than test
plots and the technology is managed entirely by farmers, with all
material inputs furnished by CATIE. Harvests go to the
collaborating farmers. During validation, the technology is
carefully monitored for technical and economic feasibility under
farmer management. If the results are favorable over two
cropping cycles, the technology is delivered to the extension
service for promotion. If they are not, it is returned to
research for alterations.

Ideally, research and extension cooperate closely during
the validation stage. The farmers' management of the technology
is observed, especially his ability to follow the instructions.
This observation aids extension in predicting adoption rates as
well as in knowing how best to promote the technology.

The historical emergence of the validation stage is worth
noting. An evaluation of the first CATIE-ROCAP project remarked
the lack of adoption of technologies that had been developed, and
concluded that more attention to technology transfer was called
for. In this way, technology transfer became an important part
of the second project.

My inquiries encountered little evidence of work by CATIE
on extension during the early years of the second project. There
was a plan to do research on farmer "communication channels" in
Tejutla, El Salvador, but little seems to have come of it. By
1982, ROCAP pressure was strong for CATIE to develop an extension
methodology. But CATIE resisted, arguing that it had neither the









56
money nor the expertise to do so(the extrapolation work
excepted). After a period of deliberation between ROCAP and
CATIE, the validation and transfer stage emerged as a compromise
solution. The project agreement was then amended to accommodate
it.

There seem to be several problems with the stage. First,
it did not emerge as a freely reasoned step in a research and
extension process, but rather as a compromise to satisfy two
conflicting positions. CATIE is a research institute and wanted
research, ROCAP had broader rural development interests and
wanted extension.

Second, what is being validated if CATIE supplies the
inputs? The issue here turns on economics. I did not have
sufficient time to pursue this matter adequately, but it is my
understanding that the economic circumstances of the
collaborating households are known to researchers at the time of
the validation trials. Further economic data--agrochemical and
labor costs, product prices--are collected during the trials, so
that calculations can ultimately be made regarding the economic
feasibility of the technology. But any statements regarding this
feasibility must be couched in terms of what the farmers could
do--not because they actually did it, but because it was done
with CATIE's help. Do successful validation trials mean that
collaborating farmers will adopt the technology? Is the
demonstration value of these trials such that farmers will
undertake the risks of investing in the necessary agrochemicals?
I doubt it in most cases, but the question ultimately remains an
empirical one. I have my doubts in part because of the
instability of product and input prices and the frequent
unreliability of credit institutions. A technology valid one
year may not be valid the next. This topic is taken up in the
following section.

There may be yet another problem with the validation and
transfer stage. The information that I gathered suggests that
national research and extension institutions do not have the
material and human resources to execute this stage. Nationals
often commented on the material inputs supplied by CATIE for
these validation trials and further remarked that local farmers
would have to furnish them should national research and extension
institutions conduct the trials. The validation stage may,
therefore, lie beyond the economic reach of most research and
extension institutions in the region.


On the Nature of Technological Alternatives


I encountered at least one improved technological
alternative in four of the five countries visited that was
problematic because of either uneconomic ratios of input costs to
product price, or unfavorable credit terms. And some of those










technologies had been validated. I was struck generally by the
extensive use of agrochemicals in the technologies.

The problem here is the vulnerability of technologies that
require capital--and credit institutions to provide it. Price
swings of both inputs and products are common in the unstable
national economies of the region. Credit terms also fluctuate,
or may not be favorable to small-farm agriculture at all. And
the required agrochemicals are not always available at any price.

There may be a psychology lesson here too. If research
and extension are integrated and conducted under a single
national leadership, then the research function necessarily
shares in the fortunes of technologies--in their extension and
their adoption by farmers--that it develops. There would be a
strong incentive to provide a viable technology. As a foreign
research institution only marginally involved(through the
validation and transfer stage, say) in extension, CATIE likely
has no-such incentive. Once an alternative has been validated,
CATIE's job is done and the alternative is delivered to a
national extension service. This matter of incentive may be just
one more problem with an international agricultural research
center's doing farming systems research in a national setting.

On Site Selection


Any judgement of the results of CATIE's farming systems
endeavors must consider the sites where CATIE has worked. They
have often been highly marginal agroecologically and
socioeconomically. In El Salvador, CATIE has moved across the
marginal northern zone, only a step ahead of advancing rebel
armies and the mounting violence. In Panama, IDIAP will soon
invite CATIE to work with a marginal Amerindian group living in
an ecologically impoverished zone. CATIE faces a real challenge
in such areas, where progress comes slowly if at all, and where
there is always a high risk of failure.

I had little time to pursue the matter of site selection,
but it is clear that decisions of where to work have involved
host governments, CATIE, and ROCAP in varying degrees. In some
cases CATIE was consulted in the selection process, in others it
was not. It seems that CATIE has had little control over the
selection of its work sites in El Salvador, for example.

There may have been areas where CATIE should not have
worked, simply because the problems there were of a kind or
magnitude that farming systems research held little prospect for
solving. I know that the CATIE staff are concerned that the
serious problems they have faced in some of the more difficult
areas might not be appreciated. That concern is entirely
reasonable.

















ACRONYMS USED


General


BID--Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo
CATIE--Centro Agrono"mico Tropical de Investigacio'n y Ensenanza
CIAT--Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical
CIMMYT--Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Mafz y Trigo
IICA--Instituto Interamericano de Cooperacidn para la
Agricultura(of the OAS)
IIRI--International Rice Research Institute
OAS--Organization of American States
ROCAP--Regional Office(of USAID) for Central America and Panama
USAID(or AID)--United States Agency for International Development


Guatemala


BANDESA--Banco Nacional de Desarrollo Agricola
DIGESA--Direccion General de Servicios Agricolas
DIGESEPE--Direccion General de Servicios Pecuarios
ICTA--Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricolas


El Salvador


CENTA--Centro de Tecnologia Agricola
INVEXT--Investigacidn y Extension
ISIAP--Instituto Salvadorefo de Investigacion Agricola y Pesquera


Honduras


DGOA--Direccion General de Operaciones Agricolas
PNEA--Programa Nacional de Extension Agropecuaria
PNIA--Programa Nacional de Investigacin Agropecuaria
SRN--Secretarfa de Recursos Naturales









59



Panama


IDIAP--Instituto de Investigacion Agropecuaria de Panama
MIDA--Ministerio de Desarrollo Agricola
SENAGRO--Servicio Nacional de Extension Agropecuaria


Costa Rica


DGIA--Direccion General de Investigaciones Agricolas
MAG--Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia
PIPA--Programa de Incremento de la Productividad Agricola




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