Agricultural research policy in transition

Material Information

Agricultural research policy in transition institutional barriers to merging the trade and environmental agendas
Alternate title:
Staff paper - UF Food and Resource Economics Dept. ; SP93-26
Andrew, Chris O
Hildebrand, Peter E
Fajardo, A
University of Florida -- Food and Resource Economics Dept
American Society of Agronomy -- Division A-6
Place of Publication:
Food and Resource Economics Dept., Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
11, [2] leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture -- Environmental aspects ( lcsh )
Environmental policy -- Economic aspects ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 10-11).
General Note:
"November 1993."
General Note:
"Prepared for presentation at the American Society of Agronomy meetings, Division A-6 Symposium "Bridging Food Production and Environment Protection in Developing Countries." Nov. 8, 1993."
Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
Statement of Responsibility:
C.O. Andrew, P.E. Hildebrand and A. Fajardo.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. This item may be protected by copyright but is made available here under a claim of fair use (17 U.S.C. §107) for non-profit research and educational purposes. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact Digital Services ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
001888636 ( ALEPH )
29541483 ( OCLC )
AJW3825 ( NOTIS )

Full Text


C.O. Andrew,2 P.E. Hildebrand3 and A. Fajardo4



Staff papers are circulated without formal review by the Food and Resource Economics
Department. Contents are the sole responsibility of the authors.

I Prepared for presentation at the American Society of Agronomy meetings, Division A-6 Symposium
"Bridging Food Production and Environment Protection in Developing Countries. Nov. 8, 1993.

2 Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University
of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0240, USA.

3 Professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and Director, International Training Division, Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0240, USA.

4 PhD candidate in Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-
0240, USA.


C.O. Andrew,* P.E. Hildebrand and A. Fajardo


Agricultural research and technology development are at a cross-roads and

must respond. New environmentally sensitive institutions are colliding with

agricultural trade-driven institutions. Traditionally, agricultural research,

technology development, and trade policy have responded to the neoclassical

economics criteria of comparative advantage and competitiveness and have

emphasized productivity of land and labor without regard to broader long-term

institutional variables and criteria. This paper considers how concerns for the

natural environment and sustainable food production confront the foundations of

agricultural research theory and practice. A conceptual framework based on

pattern behavior analysis is proposed for considering how institutional

interactions, formally and informally, influence organizations and structures

that form the basis for agricultural research and policy programs.


C.O. Andrew,* P.E. Hildebrand and A. Fajardo '

An institution consists of two important human phenomena: 1) needs and
aspirations, and 2) the norms that influence how we act upon them. We identify
basic needs and general aspirations as individuals or groups with similar needs
and aspirations. We act on these needs through establishment of, and change in,
formal and informal norms for individual and group behavior. For example,
informal cultural and historical norms suggest how we are to behave within the
institution of marriage and family relative to the needs of children. Some of
these norms have been translated into legal constraints in areas such as child
abuse. Beyond the family, formal policies and rules are instituted to deal with
many other situations such as how we manage natural resources in the context of
balancing needs for food production on agricultural land with needs for
environmental protection.

Institutions are more than a set of organizations because they also include
both formal and informal rules about behavior. We do organize, formally and
informally, to achieve institutional goals and to implement rules and policies
to achieve those goals. Responsible organizations are effective ways of
expressing and shaping needs and ways of operating in response to normative
conditions represented by rules, regulations and policies. An organization may
entail elaborate structures and functions to deal with expressing needs and
developing norms.

Institutions, as dynamic forms of human behavior, are comprised of people and
their needs, the science and norms to determine how those needs can and should
be fulfilled, and the organizations to articulate the needs and implement
responses (Figure 1). In this context, people are both clients and human
resources. They provide individual creativity for technology development and
policy formulation (I), and organize in groups (II) to specify organizational
structures and functions. Organizations also interact with rules and policies
to provide the program dynamics (III) within the institutional setting.

The Land Grant system in the United States is a major institutional complex
consisting of universities, most of which are institutions in their own right.
The departments of agronomy or agricultural economics at a university are
organizations within the larger institutional setting of the university, designed
to help determine and respond to the needs of specific client groups. The
American Society of Agronomy displays institutional qualities, some overlapping
with those of the Land Grant system. A recent area to achieve institutional
status, the environmental movement, also is influencing other institutions in
agriculture. It embodies public and private organizations as well as an
increasing list of policies and rules that influence the work of farmers and
their service organizations including those in research. Numerous institutions
interact or overlap to influence the research of agronomists and soil scientists
who often complain about the institutional and organizational rules and
regulations that both facilitate and constrain their work.

Many producer organizations influence the policy making environment and the
rules that circumscribe food and other agricultural systems, and in this way,
influence broader institutions. Some producer groups organize to work
cooperatively to meet challenges to their businesses such as finding improved
agroecological practices. Practical Farmers of Iowa, a group of concerned
farmers, is an example of a farmer-driven research and education organization to

SFood and Resource Economics Dep., Univ. of Florida, Box 110240,
Gainesville, FL 32611-0240.

identify economically viable and ecologically sound production practices. Other
states have similar organizations. In time this farmer movement, itself, may
assume institutional qualities to influence rule and policy making.


For persons involved in agriculture, policies and rules are found in
institutions such as those of agricultural research and education, or those
concerned with monitoring and controlling food quality or air and water
pollution, or others regulating worker safety or those designed to enhance or
inhibit international agricultural trade. Some of these institutions overlap,
particularly for specific problem or opportunity situations as in the pending
decision on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Free trade elicits debate
about differences in environmental regulations in the trading countries. Such
institutional overlap may provide complementary solutions or it may create
conflict and competition making the solutions more difficult to achieve.

Present issues confronting world agriculture are growing in complexity for
at least two reasons. First, modern communication and transportation permit,
indeed require, groups within and across national frontiers to respond, through
their institutions, to global social, economic, technological and resource
interactions. Second, owing to population pressure and natural resource
degradation, the need for food security in the face of a concern for long-term
sustainable resource use is compounded by over consumption in the developed world
of food and other goods heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Much of the funding
base for agricultural research rests primarily within "first world" institutions
where people are generally well fed and more concerned with personal and national
economic problems than food and nutrition problems of the "third world". Yet the
challenge for agricultural research is ever greater because of the inability of
many of the world's producers to farm effectively in fragile environments and
with limited capital resources in the "third world" where they live.

Because the "first world" is calling for greater care of the natural resource
base, emerging global environmental regulations are causing further constraints
on marginal production situations. Given these conflicts, one might ask: Whose
needs should agricultural research serve? Who should set the agenda? Which
institutions will have the greatest impact on the research agenda in the future?
Where are these institutions located? To make matters worse, the complex of
various national and international institutions that interface with agricultural
research are dealing with financial and agenda crises. In these post Green
Revolution times these crises could overshadow the contributions and lessons of
early major advances in agricultural research. That is, research to improve
agricultural productivity of basic food crops could be seriously delayed or even
disbanded. It would seem that responsible balance is needed (Walsh, 1991).

Time marches on, however, and population pressure continues to mount while
a new revolution is underway. The sustainability revolution is resulting from
emergence of new environmentally oriented institutions as well as realignment
and change in traditional linkages between institutions. Will a balance be
struck to permit the necessary productivity growth and international agricultural
trade on terms that promote sustainable resource use?

Merging the Trade and Environmental Agendas

The institutional setting surrounding NAFTA is extensive and includes many
groups and interests in three countries, not the least of which seems to be the
working class. One challenge to NAFTA is agricultural production and trade
within an "acceptable" environmental context. Agricultural and natural resource
research needs to meet "criteria" associated with productivity increases, as well
as sustainable resource use, are not clearly evident.

Some could argue that the recently proposed Supplemental Agreements (SA) to
the NAFTA (U.S. Government, 1993) are simply additional non-tariff barriers to
trade. Others do subscribe to Article 5 of the SA which states: "With the aim
of achieving high levels of environmental protection and compliance with its
environmental laws and regulations, each Party shall effectively enforce its
environmental laws and regulations through appropriate governmental action..."
(p. 5). A commission and a governing council would be responsible for about 40
directives. Some (pp. 8-10) include the development of recommendations

1) Comparability of techniques and methodologies for data gathering,
analysis, management and communications;

2) Pollution prevention techniques and strategies;

3) Scientific research and technology development regarding environmental

4) Environmental matters as they relate to economic development;

5) The exchange of environmental scientists and officials;

6) Ecologically sensitive national accounts; and

7) Promoting the exchange of information.

While these are facilitative in nature, enforcement rules are also specified in
the SA.

Regardless of the true intent of the SA and the present status of NAFTA, the
setting for research is changing owing to global environmental awareness and
existing international trade. The NAFTA itself could solidify the inevitable
movement toward a supra-institution with considerable potential impact on the
agricultural research agenda. And surely North American agricultural and natural
resource researchers will continue to be asked to fulfill policy and
institutional demands for productivity increases on a sustainable basis in the
face of a declining domestic and global research budget.
Agricultural Research Policy in Transition

Agricultural research, including the policies and methodologies that
facilitate it, works within a dynamic setting where societal goals and criteria
are becoming increasingly complex. There was a time when concerns for natural
resource use, the environment and consumer safety were far less than those for
augmenting production to deal with anticipated mass starvation and malnutrition.
Good lands and favored producers were supported by research and development
programs to augment the yield of basic food crops. Policies were designed to
transfer resources out of agriculture. Concessional sales and pricing were
common in world markets. Institutional and policy mechanisms in many countries
also included various product and input price distortions, some favoring selected
producers and some favoring selected consumers more than others, depending on
the distribution of natural resources and access to appropriate technology (Roe
and Pardy, 1989, pp 9-22).

Pressure on the international and national agricultural research systems from
farming systems researchers began about 25 years ago (see Poats et al., 1986, for
a historical overview). Farming systems research practitioners, working with
less advantaged farmers, recognized that all lands were not "good" nor all
producers "resource favored", particularly in the "third world". A systems focus
involving farmers directly in the technology development process evolved.
Further, a new set of institutional concerns entered the equation, some dealing
with regional development and equity and others simply directed to food security.

Research policies and methodologies were called upon to react to an expanded,
more complex and less well understood institutional setting.

As with most change, hardly had the research community begun to understand
the systems challenge to technology for diverse and less favored situations than
a greater challenge emerged. Particularly in the industrialized countries,
environmental awareness, and ultimately an expression of needs and policy
responses, have resulted in a new institutional context calling for sustainable
resource use and consumer protection in agricultural production and food
distribution. No longer is it possible for research to focus exclusively on the
production/productivity agenda. The criteria not only have expanded but they are
not well defined because the imposing institutions have not reached a stable
balance and unified focus.

Agricultural policy responses to the proliferation of institutions important
to agriculture are not very predictable. Institutions help form and partly are
formed by the political process. When deep seated needs are in conflict from the
personal level to the global, as in those for present survival of "third world"
children versus sustainable resource use for future generations--your
grandchildren and their great grandchildren--policy formulation is challenged.
The results provide inconclusive directives to agricultural research often
because political and economic power may be the driving forces. This is the case
when agricultural researchers attempt to anticipate and respond to demands
associated with the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Power-
based conflicts, while becoming pervasive, chaotic and potentially oppressive,
are poor signals for both short- and long-term research.

A challenge before the research community is to help the institutional and
policy processes deal with irreversibility resulting from increased agricultural
production and trade. If the management of agricultural resources can lead to
irreversible consequences, as in destroying wetlands, forested areas or species,
options for future generations will be constrained. What policy options or other
behavioral modifications will help resolve the problem? What processes will help
us determine what those public and private actions should be?

Obviously, agricultural research stands at a cross-roads. The issues are
basic: Who is the client? How do we balance the future with the present? To
which sets of institutional criteria should research respond? Can researchers
remain objective in the face of major funding shortfalls? Cannot we
agriculturalists just do what we do best and leave these questions, as we usually
do, to someone else? One answer is clear: we must say no to the last question.
The other questions may seem to be nearly intractable. Better understanding of
the institutions and policies that interact with research could help clarify some
of the issues. Improved dialogue among a wide range of participants might
contribute to a team spirit so that the rule and policy making efforts would deal
better with both broad and specific long-term implications.


The Challenge

A basic challenge before all agricultural researchers is to confront our
linear and reductionist research methodologies with the irreversibility of some
actions based on such research. Too often we fail to consider dynamic, nonlinear
and holistic systems methodologies, as opposed to reductionist procedures.
According to one research approach, optimal policies can be derived by using
recursive techniques. "These techniques first derive optimal choices and rewards
for future periods resulting from all possible present activities and only then
select the optimal policies for the present" (Zilberman, et al., 1993, p. 114).
Those authors, in presenting an important caveat, may be suggesting a basis for
changing the mission of agricultural research by stating, "If future changes in

technology or preferences that will make the unspoiled resource valuable are
ignored when present resource-use decisions are made, excessive amounts of the
resource may be extracted in the present" ibidd).

For purposes of considering the institutional and policy response to the
expressed need by society not to make irreversible decisions, Zilberman, et al.
(1993) conclude, "First, there are many cases ...where unregulated resource use
can lead to suboptimality and where intervention can, at least in theory, lead
to optimal resource use...Second, when intervention is not feasible or is too
costly, resource allocation under free competition is not necessarily more
efficient than under a monopoly. Third, uncertainty about future resource
availability, technologies, or preferences may justify resource conservation in
the present" (p. 140).

Uncertainty is, itself, an issue. Uncertainty about sustainable agriculture
results from the lack of knowledge about resource, food and livelihood
relationships to which agricultural researchers of the twenty-first century must
be prepared to contribute. Current research attitudes and methodologies can
consider future preferences along with future availability of resources and
technologies. Exclusive and non-integrated knowledge, as in the tradition of
much of the present disciplinary specialization found in the land grant research
and education system, will not, however, serve the interdependent character of
the uncertainty we face. The question is, can we become better at holistic
identification of the problem before we assume too much about disconnected and
specialized solutions?

The sustainability challenge presents a major dilemma. Identification of
responsible preferences relative to needs and actions to follow within the
institutional context presupposes better knowledge of the resource base and of
the future capability of technology. To develop appropriate technology to serve
those needs presupposes further that we understand the extent of the expected
resource capability over considerable time and the ever-changing preferences of
a global society. But to know resource capability suggests that we can know how
people will react to "consumerism" and how they will invest in the development
of future technology. Yes, it is a Catch 22; each constraint is dependent on

An example based on a recent study in Costa Rica (Bellows, 1992) well
illustrates the many interactions existent between technology development,
sustainability, policy and trade. Pejibaye de Perez Zeledon is located in the
southern bean-growing region of Costa Rica. Partly in response to increasing
population pressures and partly in response of cattlemen and rice producers to
government programs, land available for the sustainable frijol tapado bean
production system has been decreasing. An import substitution program at the
same time had resulted in the introduction of a cleared field bean production
system, frijol espeque, and improved bean varieties. Simultaneously, a new road
into the area enhanced articulation with the marketing system while loan programs
for the production of beef cattle increased land-use competition.

The traditional frijol tapado system used little or no cash-requiring inputs
and labor only for land preparation (felling the fallow and broadcasting seed)
and harvest. It was ideal for farmers with little or no land who could plant
their subsistence bean crop and then go to work in the coffee harvest. Although
yield per hectare was low, returns to labor and cash (the most limiting resources
of most of the smaller farmers) was high. The introduced frijol espeque system
required both cash inputs (fertilizer and pesticides) and labor during the
production period. While this system worked well on the level land of the
experiment stations, it resulted in heavy soil erosion and decreased phosphorus
availability on the steep lands where it was being introduced. Increasing costs
and decreasing yields are making intensive bean production in this area
unprofitable. Government loan programs for cattle production have both induced
large scale farmers to transfer land out of crop-fallow (or frijol tapado-fallow)

rotations and into pasture, and small-scale farmers to sell degraded bean land
to cattle ranchers. The resultant land-use competition has decreased the
availability of fallow required for the land-use extensive frijol tapado bean
production system. Thus, government trade and technical assistance programs
ostensibly to increase production of rice, beef and beans, had the effect of
shifting bean production from a sustainable system to a non-sustainable system.
Another effect is declining bean production in an area that was formerly an
important source of beans for the country.

A Conceptual Framework

To open thought of the broad production, trade, resource use and
sustainability picture, a framework could include the following assertions:

1) The agricultural research problem/opportunity situation, specified in a
need and action context, includes a macro-system of interacting and
parallel institutional settings (Figure 2).

2) The macro-system influences and is influenced by several levels of
overlapping, emerging and related settings:

a. Countries, ecoregions, communities and households;

b. Farms or enterprises, fields and plants;

c. Resources, technologies and knowledge (present and expectations for
the future).

3) Various micro-systems provide a dynamic response context consisting of:

a. Present consumer behavior and long-term preferences,
b. Landscape systems,
c. Marketing systems,
d. Livelihood and farming systems,
e. Cropping systems, and
f. Microbial systems.

4) This entire food production and distribution system, extending from the
production resource base to consumption, represents the ingredients for
agricultural research institutions:

a. Organizations (formal and informal) to express needs and to act
(structures, roles and functions), and

b. Policies, rules and regulations.

Theory and Practice

Toward Multidisciplinary and Systems Research

New tools are required to work with the complexity of the various systems and
their interactions. Starting with economics, Don Paarlberg (1993), a senior
agricultural economist and policy analyst with 16 years of service to the federal
government said: "It gradually dawned on me that in government we were dealing
more with group concentrations of economic power than with atomistic individuals,
more with qualitative than with quantitative matters, more with dynamics than
with statics. Groups, power, change, multidisciplinary subject matter, and
qualitative considerations are the substance of institutional economics" (p.821).
"The usefulness of institutional economics arises from its ability to deal with
whatever forces exist rather than focusing on a select few while purporting to
hold the others constant, as do the rigorous systems. Institutional economists
would rather be roughly right than rigorously wrong" (p.826).

Similarly, the conventional approach to agronomic research has been
challenged by techniques that are less deterministic in the tradition of
reductionist science. On-farm research and the other farmer-participatory
methods of Farming Systems Research-Extension (FSRE) have provided an opportunity
for more systematic agronomic technology development. The nature and purpose of
on-farm research has been changed by FSRE practitioners (Hildebrand and Poey,
1985; Hildebrand, 1990; Tripp, 1991) from searching for broadly adaptable to
location-specific technologies that fit specific environmental conditions and
respond to different farmers' needs and resource situations. More recently,
North American farmers are moving even further, looking for help in conducting
and analyzing their own on-farm research.

The broader focus of FSRE methods has also shifted over time from
intercropping and multiple cropping systems (French, 1975), to farming systems
including livestock (Nordblom et al., 1985), to farm family systems including all
members of the households (Poats et al., 1988) to livelihood systems including
local agroecosystems and off-farm activities (Bellows, 1992) and more recently
to community, landscape and regional agroecosystems. Farming systems work in the
broadest context provides for multidisciplinary collaboration in a farmer-
empowering process. This process provides a basis for understanding the family
situation, but it is also a microcosm to reflect the more general institutional
environment where the family lives and works. We are beginning to understand
that farms reflect the broad institutional environment in which they are located.

Toward Systems and Institutional Research

Pattern behavior analysis is an approach employed by Fajardo (1993) under the
premise that individuals, groups, communities and society confront problems,
explore opportunities, and perceive, rationalize, and relate to their social and
physical environments through causal relationships that they select and formulate
through beliefs, experiences and knowledge. A farmer, for example, might
reasonably expect the seed of an improved cultivar to produce a better plant and
the use of fertilizer to increase its yield. These relationships are generally
understood in terms of cause and effect. Two different farmers, however, might
follow different chains of perceived causal relationships to very different
conclusions concerning the potential effects of NAFTA. There is less general
understanding of the cause and effects of institutional relationships in this
sphere than in that pertaining to relationships in a farmer's field. However,
groups of farmers and others interacting within organizations, communities and
regions jointly may share common intra-group views yet different inter-group
views as might be the case of corn and citrus growers viewing NAFTA.

The core of causal relationships shared by individuals, groups or communities
and over time considered more valuable, meaningful and useful, provides the
structure for the analysis of institutional settings in specific problem and
opportunity domains. This structural core can be represented by a pattern or by
an equivalent matrix of causal relationships amenable to the mathematical
manipulation of dynamic pattern behavior analysis. Within this context it is
possible to predict the behavior of the pattern, the consequences of decisions
arising from an established institutional setting and from the occurrence of
events causally linked in the institutional pattern.

The possibility of eliciting the causal relationships from individuals,
members of a group or a community, makes the approach eminently participatory.
The existence of a common institutional setting influencing the decision-making
process rests on whether its structure of causal assertions is shared by the
participants searching for solutions to problems and exploring opportunities in
a specific domain. This sharing of views was not the case in the previously
cited example from Costa Rica. In this case there were conflicting patterns
resulting from very different institutional settings. The causal relationships
viewed by the frijol tapado farmer whose livelihood was involved were very
different from those responsible for governmental research and policy formation.

The decision framework derived from the latter institutional setting, when
applied in the reality of the former, resulted in the demise of the farmers'
subsistence crop possibilities.

Analysis of institutions from the perspective of a core of causal
relationships enables the identification of linkages between institutional
patterns of individuals or groups such as farm household systems with those
institutional patterns maintained by individuals and organizations at community,
regional, national and international levels. The dynamics of pattern analysis
provide the means for identifying the sources of conflict and convergence between
participants at the farm, livelihood, or community systems levels with those
participants and/or organizations at the governmental and national policy making

In order to facilitate the process of merging the trade and environmental
agendas, research to guide institutional change through the linkages of the above
levels, needs to be, by necessity, participatory. To create a merged core of
accepted causal relationships from which guidelines for action will emanate needs
the active participation and commitment of decision makers within and between all
the levels. In the first stage, the research would identify the initial
institutional settings whose merger is intended. To each of the settings,
dynamic pattern behavior analysis would be applied in order to establish the
convergent and divergent responses to alternative agricultural research and
policy decisions. Secondly, the research would provide an institutional
conceptual framework and methodology for a process of awareness, productive
confrontation and integration. This process could facilitate the emergence of
a shared institutional setting which makes explicit the way in which needs and
aspirations have been perceived and provides grounds to elicit agreements on the
means through which those needs and aspirations could be addressed.

Participatory Research Processes

Identification of research problems and the challenge confronting
agricultural research necessitates consideration of causal situations that
contribute to declines in environmental conditions and economic security.
Causality situations result from interrelationships between factors such as high
population growth, low productivity, low investment, low income, reduced economic
opportunity, community to national socio-economic imbalances, in- and out-
migration, natural resource stress, loss of socio-economic base, struggling and
sporadic policy support and others as the cycles continue.

Some questions to initiate institutional inquiry might include: What roles
should rural-urban support institutions assume? How can the resource base
sustain projected changes through urban-rural transitions? What technologies and
policies do the agricultural and urban systems demand for food production and
distribution? How can the overall institutional and policy situations at the
local, regional, state, national, international and global levels be altered to
provide for sustained and meaningful life? Can we better understand
institutional interrelationships as guides to formulation of agricultural
research policy?

Research objectives and procedures for institutional inquiry might be to
understand the potential for resource-sustainable urban and rural revitalization
through institutional change and policy reform. The process could be by
delineating potentials within the framework of individual creativity, group
socialization and program dynamics, Figure 1. A further objective could be to
assess interactions within the urban/rural linkage and identify opportunities for
strengthening that linkage in a resource-sustainable, socio-economic environment
that breaks the hunger/poverty/oppression nexus.

Procedural emphasis on participatory research, in the farming systems
tradition, would extend throughout the various levels of the systems presented

in Figure 2. A guiding principle is that participatory research, as a sustaining
process, includes the issue to be interpreted, interpreters who perform within
the research system, and people or "clients" whose behaviors serve not only as
evidence, but also as researchers and as implementers of change. The entire
process has been labeled cooperative inquiry. As discussed by Peter Reason, the
cooperative inquiry team will cycle information and experience through stages:
what, how, act, engage and reflect. It will then repeat the process as new
information and concepts emerge. Validation procedures to be imposed by the
group will include research cycling, balanced divergent and convergent analyses,
balanced reflection and experience, balanced open and closed boundary processes
for admittance of new information/experience to the group, coherence in
viewpoints toward action, and replication potentials. Thus, the research and
experience of team participants can serve as the basis for the cooperative
inquiry technique by including knowledge from direct experience, survey results,
focus groups, case studies, multidisciplinary team studies, experimental results,
field research and the creative results of team interaction. The process allows
YOU as a participant to be open, creative and responsible to new ways of
resolving seemingly intractable problems (see Andrew and Hildebrand, 1993.
Chapter 2).

An example of successful participatory research and problem solving using a
cooperative inquiry approach is provided by the Ventura County Food Safety Study
Group organized to address the 1989 Alar-in-apples incident in Southern
California (Yee, 1991). Several sets of institutions, including agricultural
production, environmental protection and food consumption, were at loggerheads.
Yee notes that, "tensions were high, tempers flared. There was little or no
understanding" (p.2). Yee and a colleague established the study group by
deliberately selecting people with a wide range of interests and views.
"Membership included several lemon, orange, avocado, and vegetable farmers
(conventional and organic), the president of Mothers and Others for Safe Food,
a retail store produce executive, representatives from farm labor, California
Rural Legal Assistance, the Farm Bureau, people from the Environmental Coalition,
the Sierra Club, the Green's Party, the League of Women Voters, and the manager
of a chemical testing lab" (p.3). Yee continued "our purposes were to reduce
conflict, build trust, open communication, exchange information, broaden
perspectives, and to study ways to improve the credibility and policies of the
food system in Ventura County". After two years of intense work the group set
forth a long-term goal to continue collaboration and establish effective policy
recommendations. Yee notes that, "they were sharing and listening. Gone was
much of the hostility, the bitterness the divisiveness, and much of the

The use of this technique may be appropriate in numerous situations at any
level in the systems and sets of interacting institutions in agriculture, trade
and the environment. Fajardo proposes that use of cooperative inquiry along with
pattern behavior mapping and analysis might be useful to the international
agricultural research centers as they consider changes in production, trade and
environmental institutions and relationships (Fajardo, 1993, Chapter 5).


Ultimately if policies, rules, organizations and structures do not change
with the expressed needs within institutional settings, the involved
organizations drift from favor. Institutional "revolution" may result. The
Land Grant institutional philosophy is as sound today as it was in 1862, 1887,
and 1914 when teaching, research and extension respectively were established.
But the organizational structures of today may not be flexible enough to serve
the mission as people become more and more concerned not only about educating
their children to produce and consume but also to conserve. Such change implies
a need for flexible organizations, disciplines and mechanisms to be in touch with
peoples' needs and their normative expectations to meet those needs.

A systems approach is a response to fulfilling expressed needs of people and
their institutions. Systems in practice extend from the farm to international
entities on a global scale. Sustainable agriculture is, and must be, a global
concern where all participants can be heard. Needs for agricultural research
range from shared global principles and fundamental support to local practice in
applied food production and distribution.

Participation, as an applied methodological process, in the identification
of food production, trade and resource use problems and opportunities, is
available in various systems approaches that favor involvement of people with
diverse experiences and interests. More can be learned from the work of farming
systems research and extension practitioners around the world. In a broad
context farmer-participatory research can account for the community and for the
sustaining capability of the regional resource base, including both natural and
human resources. In this case, the concept of justice and freedom from
oppression suggests an individual reality in trust of the poorest people, a group
reality that can embrace the community, and a global reality that knows the force
and potential for constructive change in institutions and their structures.
Justice can honor people with differentiated roles in a community, regardless of
whether those people are farmers, religious leaders, policy makers or the
scientists who help develop technology. Pluralism, an interactive process for
creating new knowledge and testing it through institutions and cultures with and
for all people, is the challenge to agricultural research policy in transition.


Andrew, C.O. and P.E. Hildebrand. 1993. Applied agricultural research:
Foundations and methodology. Westview Press, Boulder.

Bellows, B.C. 1992. Sustainability of bean (Phaseolus vuloaris L.) farming
systems on steep lands in Costa Rica: An agronomic and socioeconomic
assessment. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Soil and Water Science Department,
University of Florida, Gainesville.

Commons, J.R. 1934. Institutional economics. The Macmillan Company, New York.

Fajardo, A. 1993. The institutional dimension of change in international
agricultural research. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. Food and Resource
Economics Dept., University of Florida, Gainesville.

French, E.C. III. 1975. Development of multiple cropping systems for small
farmers of El Salvador. Unpublished M.S. Thesis. Dept. of Horticulture, New
Mexico State University, Las Cruces.

Hildebrand, P.E. 1990. Modified stability analysis and on-farm research to
breed specific adaptability for ecological diversity. In: Kang, M.S. (ed.).
Genotype-by-environment interaction and plant breeding. Louisiana State
University, Baton Rouge.

Hildebrand, P.E. and F. Poey. 1985. On-farm agronomic trials in farming systems
research and extension. Lynne Rienner Publ. Inc., Boulder.

Nordblom, T.L., A.K.H. Ahmed and G.R. Potts. 1985. Research methodology for
livestock on-farm trials: Proceedings of a workshop at Aleppo Syria. IDRC,

Paarlberg, P. 1993. The case for institutional economics. American J. of
Agricultural Economics. 75:823-827.

Poats, S., D. Gait, C.O. Andrew, L. Walecka, P.E. Hildebrand, and J.K.
McDermott. 1986. Farming systems research and extension: Status and
potential in low resource agriculture. Prepared for the Office of Technology
Assessment, U.S. Congress. Farming Systems Support Project, University of
Florida, Gainesville.

Reason, P. 1988. Human inquiry in action developments in new paradigm
research. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, London, New Delhi.

Roe, T.L. and P. G. Pardy. 1989. Agricultural research in a policy context. In:
Agricultural research policy. Pardy, P.G, J. Roseboom and J.R. Anderson.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York.

Tripp, R. 1991. Planned change in farming systems: Progress in on-farm
research. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

U. S. Government. 1993. NAFTA supplemental agreement. Washington, D.C.

Veblen, T. 1943. The theory of the leisure class. The Viking Press, New York.

Walsh, J. 1991. Preserving the options: Food production and sustainability.
Issues in Agriculture No. 2. Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research, Washington, D.C.

Yee, L.K. 1991. A process for incorporating social and environmental concerns
in food safety discussions (November speech). University of California
Davis, Conference on agricultural systems: Incorporating environmental and
social concerns.

Zilberman, D., M. Wetzstien and M. Marra. 1993. The economics of nonrenewable
and renewable resources. In: Carlson, G.A., D. Zilberman and J.A.
Miranowski. Agricultural and environmental resource economics. Oxford
University Press, New York and Oxford.







A W 000 4 -







r Policy Functions

& Form


Figure 1. Model for Institutional Dynamics.



Figure 2.


Consumer Behavior

Institutions, Organizations and Conceptual
Components and Systems for Agricultural Research