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 Generating technology for traditional...

Group Title: Generando tecnologia para agricultores tradicionales : una metodologia multidisciplinaria
Title: Generando tecnología para agricultores tradicionales
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055293/00002
 Material Information
Title: Generando tecnología para agricultores tradicionales una metodología multidisciplinaria
Physical Description: 1 v. (Various pagings) : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: Spanish
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E
Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícolas (Guatemala)
Publisher: Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícolas, ICTA, Sector Público Agrícola
Place of Publication: Guatemala
Publication Date: [1976]
Subject: Agricultural innovations -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Field experiments -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Alternative agriculture -- Guatemala   ( lcsh )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: Peter E. Hildebrand.
General Note: "Preparado para presentarlo en la conferencia sobre: Desarrollo de Economía en Regiones Agrícolas: Búsqueda de una Metodología, Centro de Conferencias de la Fundación Rockefeller, Bellagio, Italia, Agosto 4-6, 1976."
General Note: "Diciembre, 1976."
General Note: Errata slip tipped in.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00055293
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001938240
oclc - 34405259
notis - AKB4376

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Generating technology for traditional farmers: The Guatemalan experience
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Full Text




Peter E. Hildebrand

Prepared for presentation in the Symposium on
Socio-economic Constraints to Crop Protection
IX International Congress of Plant Protection
Washington, D.C.
August 5-11, 1979

Socioeconomia Rural

Guatemala, C.A.

August, 1979



Peter E. Hildebrand1
FRE, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Cropping decisions of traditional farmers are influenced by many more

factors than are those of commercial or modern farmers. Many of these fac-

tors are poorly understood by traditionally trained agricultural scientists.

The world of traditional farmers is composed of uncertainties, fears of hun-

ger casued by living and producing on the margin, religious and cultural

taboos and practices that limit certain alternatives, poor infrastructural

support of farming and social services including education, and even limita-

tions on fuel for fire, for light, and for farming. In most traditional sys-

tems, animals tend to form an integral and important component of the subsis-

tence economy of the farm and cannot be separated from the crop component.

Within this milieu, the traditional farmer has developed or inherited complex

farming systems that allow survival under conditions that for most scientists,

who tend to originate from much more favorable environments, are nearly incom-


Traditional or subsistence farms cannot necessarily be defined by size,

by the absence of modern technology, nor can "low productivity" always be

used to describe traditional farms. Usually when the agricultural scien-

tist thinks of low productivity he thinks of either labor or land produc-

tivity. If neither of these factors of production is scarce for the tradi-

tional farmer, their productivity may, indeed, be low. But the farmer will

When written, the author was Agricultural Economist, The Rockefeller
Foundation, assigned as Coordinador de Socioeconomia Rural, Instituto de
Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricolas (ICTA), Guatemala.


also be obtaining a high level of productivity from other resources or fac-

tors which are scarcer for him.

A misunderstanding of the relationships which motivate traditional

farmers can lead the traditional scientist into many errors. In Santiago,

Sacatepequez, in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, the yield of maize,

the basic food crop, is low even though the farmers recognize that ferti-

lizers will increase yield. Fertilizer'is available and used on vegetables

which are also produced. The traditional technical response is to increase

maize yields through higher populations of lower growing plants and with a

heavier fertilizer application. But these farmers realize that more grain

production without more forage will not satisfy the needs of their animals.

Hence, their solution is to plant more area to tall maize with low levels of

fertilizer and use the fertilizer they are able to purchase on vegetables

where its productivity (and that of the capital used to purchase it) is much

greater than it would be on the maize.

In many areas and for several crops, farmers look to the productivity

of the seed they plant rather than of the land. The tendency is to use

varieties which yield heavily for each plant and then seed with wide spaces

to allow the plant more area, providing maximum nutrients or moisture, which-

ever is the scarcer. Opening planting distances also helps to increase the

efficiency of labor at planting time, which in many areas can be a severely

limiting resource. Scientists, looking to yield per hectare, tend to reduce

productivity of each seed by recommending higher populations.

In an irrigation project in a very dry area of eastern Guatemala, weeds

are a very severe problem and a definite limit to yields of the vegetables

that are raised as the priority crop. However, this area was historically

a dual-purpose cattle zone and the farmers still maintain their herds for

production of meat and milk. During most of the year, forage is very scarce,

so the farmers use the vegetable fields immediately following harvest as a

source of feed. Hence, they tend to let the weeds grow to increase the feed

supply, even though it knowingly reduces the yield of their principal crop

and is counter to the recommendation made by agricultural technicians.

Given the wide variety of conditions found in Guatemala and the low

acceptance of technology by traditional farmers, the Institute of Agricul-

tural Science and Technology (ICTA) was founded in 1973, to reorganize the

generation and promotion of technology so that the large number of small

farmers in the country could begin to participate in the national economy.

The Institute developed an "Agricultural System" (ICTA, 1977) that has been

in use for several years, though it is still changing as needed modifica-

tions are visualized. It is not perfect, but it has been found to have some

valuable characteristics and is being used as a model in some other countries.

Very briefly, its most critical characteristics follow (Hildebrand, 1978).

A work zone is defined, in so far as possible, on the basis of an area

in.which the majority of small farmers follow a similar, traditional agri-

cultural system, or in other cases, it may be the confines of a land reform

project where most of the (artificially created) farms are quite similar.

A team comprised of social scientists and the agricultural technicians

assigned to the zone surveys the area to determine what the farmers do, how

they do it and why they do it that way (that is, define the agro-socioeconomic

conditions of the area). This team jointly analyzes the results of the

survey and makes recommendations concerning the technology to be developed.

Technology validation and generation is carried out both on experiment

stations (about 10% of the work) and on the small farmers' own farms (about

90%). This work is divided into three general levels. The Commodity Programs

(those identified with a commodity such as maize, beans, swine, etc.) conduct

controlled trials on the stations and a few farms in the area. A "Technology

Testing Team" (the technicians assigned to the zone) conducts technical trials

under the supervision of the Commodity Programs on a much larger number of

farms and acts as a means of extending the exposure of the materials and

practices throughout the zone. The most promising technologies are then

submitted to agro-economic trials to help the team evaluate them further.

The Institute pays most of the cost of the technical and agro-economic trials

and the farmer on whose land they are conducted receives the crop.

The trials and evaluations through this stage are based on the tech-

nicians' understanding of the farmers' needs and evaluation criteria as ob-

tained from the survey and from farm records which are initiated immediately

following the survey. But even though the technicians live in the area and

work on the farmers' own land, they cannot make the final decisions as to the

"appropriateness" of the technology even after passing it through this ex-

haustive system. Therefore, the most promising technologies are passed on

to farmers for their own evaluation. Here the farmers pay for inputs and

furnish labor and the product is theirs. ICTA technicians obtain what infor-

mation they can from these "Farmers' Tests", but the farmers do the evaluation.

The year following these tests by the farmers, ICTA makes a follow-up survey

of the same farmers to determine whether they have adopted the technology,

to what degree, and if not, why. If a sufficient number of the collaborators

from the year before have adopted it of their own accord over a significant

part of their own land, it is considered as "acceptable" and is then turned

over to the extension service as "appropriate technology" for those farmers

who use that same traditional agricultural system.

One of the strengths of this technology generating system is the use

of multidisciplinary teams to make the agro-socioeconomic studies of each

new zone of work to conduct the trials and to aid in the evaluation and

interpretation of results. In order to be able to understand and interpret

the small farmers' agro-socioeconomic conditions, it is necessary to consider

all the factors which have an influence on what they do and can do. Hence,

it requires a multidisciplinary team with each member contributing his own

specialty, but all subordinating to the common objective: to understand

what the farmers are doing, why they are doing it that way (how they have

adjusted historically to their agro-socioeconomic conditions), and what is

required in any new technology if it is to be accepted on a large scale.

The integrated, multidisciplinary concept continues beyond the survey.

The agricultural technicians on the team help the technician from socio-

economics who is assigned to the team in the collection of farm record data

and he, in turn, helps in the field trial work. Because this team lives and

works in the zone, and because the work is almost exclusively on farms, the

technicians have a great deal of contact with the farmers in the area and

continue to learn about their conditions both through dialogue with them and

because they are planting under farm conditions. Hence, they are able to

obtain a very good understanding of the agro-socioeconomic conditions of

the farmers in the area.

This close association with the farmers has brought to light many

interesting facts about traditional agriculture and the capability of tra-

ditional farmers to adopt new technology. One of the first characteristics

encountered was the tremendous variability among areas. Even an area of

relatively large and homogeneous farms on the south coast was found to vary

sufficiently that the generation of technology for one agrarian reform

project could not be transferred to other project areas on each side as

had at first been proposed. Even more marked is the difference between

technology in the tropical lowlands and that in the highlands as is illus-

trated: by maize in Table 1.

Table 1. Some Measures of Technology Used in Three Maize Producing Areas
of Guatemala, 1978.
(Percent of area in maize)

Practice Tropical areas: Highlands Area:
La Maquina Nueva Concepcion San Carlos Sija

Plowing by: tractor 100 100 30
animal 0 0 21
Manual land preparation 0 0 49
Improved seed 85 78 1
Herbicide 0 17 0
First weeding: manual 70 67 100
tractor 44 0 0
animal 23 74 7

Manure 0 0 95
Chem fertilizer (first) 0 33 100
(second) 0 0 23
Insecticide Tst 75 100 0
2nd 28 100 0
3rd 0 100 0
4th 0 71 0
5th 0 40 0

Cost of production 1/
$/ha 153 193 340
Yield kg/ha 2,300 1,800 4,700
No. of cases 25 18 25

1/ All direct costs excluding interest on capital, administration and
land rent.

Source: Garcia, et al. (1979) and Gonzalez, et al. (1979)

It is not surprising that such differences exist between areas, but

it was found that even for the same farmers in the same area, there is a

difference between subsistence and commercial crops. In the Highlands,

maize is the traditional food crop and wheat is a relatively new crop that

is raised almost exclusively for sale. Farmers utilize improved seed on 84

percent of their wheat but only 2 percent of their maize and herbicide is

used on 92 percent of the wheat while none is used on maize (Garcia, et al.,


In an agrarian reform project area on the south ('Pacific) coast, that

produces approximately 17,000 has of maize each year, evaluations of accept-

ability of technology by farmers have been conducted on maize for three years,

and there are at the present time, four years of farm trials and farm record

information. These data present an interesting relationship between the

evaluation of acceptability of new technology following Farmers' Tests and

the adoption of the technology by farmers in general. Table 2 shows the

index of acceptability for the different components of the technology package

and Table 3 the technology used over a four year period by record keeping

farmers in this same area.

Table 2. Index of Acceptability of Technology for Maize Production, La
Maquina, Guatemala 1975 to 1977.

Technology Index of Acceptability for Year: 1/
Component 1976 1977 1978

Improved seed 41 61 71
Planting distance 13 28 60
Insect control (plant) 53 66 48
Herbicides 1 12 11

Fertilizer 0 4 -
Insect control (soil) 0 4
Land preparation 0 -
Planting date 50 -

Number of components 8 6 4
Average Index 19.8 29.2 47.6

1/ Percent of farmers using the component on their own the year following
the test multiplied by the percent of their land on which they are using
the component divided by 100. The year shown is the year of the evalu-
Source: Brol, et al. (1976), Ruano (1978) and Chinchilla and Hildebrand (1979).

Table 3. Technology Used in Maize in La Maquina, Guatemala, 1975 to 1978.
(Percent of area in maize)

Technology 1975 1976 1977 1978

Improved seed 45 60 59 1/ 85
Insect control (plant) 57 74 78 103
Herbicides 1 0 0 0

Tractor cultivation NA 35 40 49
Fertilizer use 1 5 1 0
Insect control (soil) 0 2 0 0

Number of cases 20 49 46 25
Area in maize (has) 237 574 566 318
Average yield (kg/ha) 1,948 2,078 2,013 2,324

1/ Does not follow trend because seed imports from Nicaragua were stopped
due to an outbreak of coffee rust in that country.
Source: Brol, et al. (1975), Brol, et al. (1977), Guerra, et al. (1978)
and Gonzalez, et al. (1979).

Tables 2 and 3 illustrate some very important aspects of technology

generation for traditional farmers. Table 2 clearly demonstrates that

farmers are very selective of the technology components they choose. The

increase in the average index of acceptability can be attributed to three

factors. One is the reduction in the number of components. Second, as more

was learned about the farmers, remaining components were modified to be more

appropriate to their conditions. Third, ICTA's methodology improved so

farmers were more aware of the technology being tested and were more involved

in evaluation. That is, the method of conducting "Farmers' Tests" improved

over this period of years.

Insect control and the use of improved seed have always received a high

acceptability index for maize in this area. The use of insecticides became

more acceptable when powdered, and especially granulated insecticides were

substituted for the liquid insecticides first recommended. Many farmers

did not have spray equipment and water is difficult for many to obtain close

enough to the fields to be practical. Granulated insecticide is applied

either with a bottle with a hole in the cap or using the fingers. Powdered

insecticides are put in a cloth bag which is shaken over the plant. An

analysis of the factors that have contributed to the increase in maize

yields in this area indicates that 53% is due to improved varieties and

47% to the control of insects (Pelaez and Shiras, 1978).

The situation with respect to herbicides is an interesting case. The

Technology Testing Team continues to feel that this component will be accepted

as the technology improves and as labor for weeding becomes more scarce and

expensive. However, up to the present time, farmers have preferred to in-

crease mechanized cultivation instead of using herbicides. Herbicides can

be less expensive than hand or mechanized weeding, but it is somewhat diffi-

cult to use and can be risky in varied climatic and soil conditions. Also,

the farmers have the same problem as with liquid insecticides -- lack of

equipment and a convenient supply of water. Therefore, because the income

effects are not spectacular, the other problems with its use as presently

recommended tend to offset its positive effects in the eyes of these farmers.

In closing, it should be mentioned that the technology development

system described here is not out of reach of developing countries. This is

evident because it is a functioning program in Guatemala, financed largely

by national funds and staffed principally by local technicians. What is

required is a dedication on the part of the government to improve the lot

of the small, traditional farmers in the country and on the part of the

technicians who work in the field.



Brol, B.B, O.A. Calderon and P.E. Hildebrand. 1975. Registros economics
de production con agricultores colaboradores del parcelamiento La
Maquina. ICTA, Guatemala.

Brol, B.B., O.A. Calderon and P.E. Hildebrand. 1976. Evaluacion de la
aceptacion de la tecnologia generada por ICTA para el cultivo de
maiz en el parcelamiento de La Maquina, 1975. ICTA, Guatemala.

Brol, B.B., O.A. Calderon and P.E. Hildebrand. 1977. Registros economics
de production de maiz con agricultores colaboradores, Parcelamiento
La Maquina, 1976. ICTA, Guatemala.

Chinchilla, M.E. and P.E. Hildebrand. 1979. Evaluacion de la aceptabilidad
de la tecnologia generada por el ICTA para los cultivos de maiz y
ajonjoli en el Parcelamiento La Maquina, 1977-78. ICTA, Guatemala.

Garcia, Miguel; Leonzo Godinez y M.E. Chinchilla. 1979. Registros economics
de production, Quezaltenango y Totonicapan, Region I, 1978. ICTA,

Gonzalez, P.A., Esau Guerra y. J.C. Leal. 1979. Registros economics de
production en maiz, ajonjoli y arroz, La Blanca, La Maquina y la Nueva
Concepcion, 1978. ICTA, Guatemala.

Guerra, Esau, P.A. Gonzalez, H.M. Orozco, J.G. Pelaez and P.G. Shiras. 1978.
Registros economics de production en maiz, ajonjoli y arroz, La
Blanca, La Maquina y La Nueva Concepcion, 1977. ICTA, Guatemala.

Hildebrand, P.E. 1978. Motivating small farmers to accept change. Conference
on integrated crop and animal production to optimize resource utilization
on small farms in developing countries. The Rockefeller Foundation
Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy. ICTA, Guatemala.

ICTA. 1977. Un sistema tecnologico agricola. In NOTICTA, Julio, 1977 No.
26. ICTA, Guatemala.

Pelaez, J.G. and P.G. Shiras. 1978. Analisis de los factors que incident
en el rendimiento de maiz en el parcelamiento La Maquina, Guatemala.
XXIV Reunion Anual del PCCMCA, San Salvador, El Salvador.

Ruano, Sergio. 1978. Evaluacion de la aceptabilidad de la tecnologia
generada por el ICTA para el cultivo de maiz en el Parcelamiento La
Maquina, 1976-77. ICTA, Guatemala.

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