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The choice of methods for implementation

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Title:
The choice of methods for implementation
Series Title:
Preliminary papers. The Rockefeller Foundation. April 29-30, 1975
Creator:
Conference on Social Science Research in Rural Development
Hunter, Guy
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
Farming Systems Support Project, University of Florida
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English

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Full Text
becona international seminarr
on Change in Agriculture
Reading. England. 9-19 September 1974
Paper le
TIE CHOICE OF METHODS FOR IIIPLEM1hTATION:
By Guy Hunter
Overseas Development Institute, London
INTRODUCTION
1. One basis upon which much of the programme of this Seminar, and
the choice of background Papers, has rested is the work of the Reading University/Overseas Development Institute joint programme of research, which has been running for the last five years. The research was based upon a belief that, however good agricultural policies might be, there is a widespread failure in implementation; and that a major part of this failure (certainly, not all) could be ascribed to a failure to learn the lessons of experience in the choice of organisational methods and of institutional forms. The programme was run in what was, in 1969, an unusual method. The field research financed by the programme (which was in turn financed by O.D.M., the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, F.F.H.C., Barclays International and Shell International.) was executed, save in one instance, by Indian and African scholars, in consultation with the Reading/O.D.I. staff; and- its initiation was the outcome of consultation with the Ministries of Agriculture in India, Kenya and Nigeria. The work was supplemented by 'library work' in London, the overseas experience of the staff and a few specially commissioned Papers.
2. The purpose of this present Paper is to lay before the Seminar
the main hypothesis underlying this work. It does not cover the whole range of subjects to be covered by the Seminar. This hypothesis underlies both the research, the choice of documentation, the subjects of plenary addresses though their content is not dictated! and the arrangement of subject matter.
FOUR CRITERIA
3. The hypothesis can be put in the following form: "Agricultural
development takes place among local farming communities at various points in a continuous transition from fully 'traditional' to more 'modern' technical and social organisation; in various different ecologies; with various post-harvest treatment of crops or animals produced; and under the guidance of Governments with different resources of personnel, administrative capacity, and budgetary resources. In considering the choice of methods (administration, organisation and institutions) for implementation of agricultural policies, consideration of four main factors will lead to choices which are more likely to succeed
1) The attitudes, capacities and needs of the local
farming community at-the time.
2) Technical factors, especially the type of crop
or animal husbandry mainly concerned.




le: 2 Choice of Methods for Implementation
3) The nature of the processing and marketing channel.
4) The administrative resources and capacity of the main
agency of change (usually, the Government or a
parastatal agency)."
4. These criteria may look deceptively, and indeed unrealistically short and simple. In such an immensely complex subject they certainly cannot be complete and decisive. It is necessary, therefore, to spell out some of the major issues which underlie each 'criterion' perhaps 'guideline' would be more modest and this is done below.. We do not claim that the use of these criteria will provide to overseas Governments or donors an infallible and precise guide to the choice of administrative methods and institutions in all cases; the world, and chance, are too complex for that. But we do claim that if the criteria are carefully considered and sensibly used, the repetition of grave mistakes will be substantially reduced, and the chances they are still chances of success will be substantially, and even critically, increased.
Criterion 1: The Attitudes, Capacities, and Needs of Farmers
5. This criterion is by far the most difficult and complex to apply.
In commonsense terms, backward 'tribal' farmers in India or Africa will differ in attitudes to innovation, in their capacities to manage change, and the need of assistance which they have, from a group of sophisticated Punjabi wheat farmers, or Kilimanjaro coffee farmers, or successful West African cocoa farmers, who have long since learned to adopt scientific methods, geared the farm to cash earnings, and learned to adapt to both market.prices and new technological advances. But between these extremes lie the majority of situations, where some change in attitudes and capacities has taken place, but, in Varying degrees, not a complete change and one which is not yet self-assured and secure.
6. Attitudes may be religious, social and customary, and economic.
They tend to be highly specific in place and time, particularly in the earliest stages of innovations, when local sub-cultures retain maximum vigour. There are, however, a few general attitudes which are widespread at this stage aversion to taking risks with the main subsistence crop; fear and suspicion of outsiders, especially officials; dependence of small farmers on some forms of power or authority within the community public opinion of the collectivity itself, chief, landlord, etc. Beyond these generalised fears there may be far more specific rules and taboos about particular crops (especially the staple food) as to planting dates, etc., and communal arrangements for such matters as access to fields, mutual help, grazing rights. In general, the process of modernisation, including wider contact outside the village, involves a gradually increased dominance of economic motives, at the expense of attitudes which obstruct economic success, and a corresponding diminution of some (but not all) of the attitudes and behaviour patterns of the traditional idiosyncratic culture.
7. Capacities. The technical skill of the farmer himself is not
usually a critical issue he is in many ways skilled already, and can pick up line-sowing, for example, in a season or two. Illiteracy is, of course, limiting at later stages, when chemical and engineering techniques, and




GUY HUNTER Paper le: 3
can be critical in innovation; but this is more relevant.to the content of the 'package' and less to organisation and institutions. Socially determined capacities are ,,ore important. The farmer, for many reasons (tenure, public opinion, etc.) may not be able to use his land as he might wish, whatever his personal attitude. Economic capacity of the farm family (apart from labour) may be restrictive. A short-straw variety may reduce necessary thatching or animal foodstuff, may deprive the family economy of vital milk or ghee or transport or fertiliser; high cash input requirements (even on credit) may be beyond him, if the cash-flow in the rural economy is minimal and indebtedness gravely feared or socially disapproved. Finally, managerial capacity in a social context (e.g. active participation in running a Cooperative) may be very low, not merely from lack of sophistication in handling money and accounts but because of social dependency which excludes challenge to local magnates.
8. Needs, naturally, overlap lack of capacities. Access to inputs,
to markets, to water supply, to fencing material, to information are among the most common needs, which must usually be supplied organisationally from outside before adoption of new methods can even start. Extension services can be greatly frustrated by the lack of investment and organisational services outside their control but vital to the programme which-they are trying to achieve.
9. Implications for organisation flowing from this and other criteria
are dealt'with below.
Criterion 2: Technical and Environmental
10. Ecology, population density, type of human settlement, type of
crop grown, seasonality, will all, in varying degrees, affect the organisation of implementation. Certain crops and organisational requirements e.g. a steady flow of uniform-sized and equally ripe tomatoes for canning -imply performance which may be extremely difficult for small farmers. Irrigation involves organisation and disciplines which may be new; extensive pastoralism involves considerable modifications of extension'pattern and marketing organisation; tree crops with a long period before bearing involve investment in labour and possibly credit or even subsistence pa:-ments. Acute shortages of resources land, grazing, water, supplies will involve government action to ration or control. Highly dispersed settlement patterns make grouping (Cooperatives etc.) hard to organise, in contrast to dense and compact communities. host of these points are painfully obvious; but they are not always taken into account, particularly where the organisation of programmes, extension staffing and credit systems are highly centralised and governed by uniform rules: to contact A400 farm families in a big village might be possible for one extension officer; the same number in a pastoral area might be quite impossible.
Criterion 3: Nature of Processing and Marketing Channel
11. This could be regarded as an extension of Criterion 2
(Technical). It includes the cases where a crop (Tea, Tobacco, Sugar, Rubber, Palm-oil are examples) requires major processing for a market well outside the village (domestic or international 'export'). Such




le: 4 Choice of Methods for Implementation
cases lend themselves to 'integrated management' by a Company, very large
Cooperative', or parastatal Board, servicing out-growers, and often providing research, Ebttension, credit, collection of the crop, processing, grading, marketing and payment. There are many well-known examples. This system supplies from outside the managerial capacity which farmers in early stages may lack, whether as individuals or as Cooperatives, and
can sometimes be applied atiery early stages of modernisation.
12. In contrast, staple cereal foods, which may be used: a) for
family consumption; b) for paying share-crop rents; c) for brewing beer;
d) for repaying obligations; -e) for seed and insurance-storing, and
f) for minor sales, present a far more difficult problem. For. example,
crop-season credit for fertiliser, which will be applied to the whole crop, may be very hard to recover because: a) the credit agency does not control the disposal of the crop; b) the credit debt looks very
high in relation to the few bags which may ultimately be sold for cash; and c) because small merchants usually have an advantage-over Official
organisations in handling this type of situation.
Criterion 4: Administrative Capacity of Government
13. This poses difficult issues which have rarely been raised in
this form. Because government disposes of a number of paid staff
- (Extension, Cooperative, Community Development, Credit service, etc.,
etc.), it is easy to.draw up on paper increasingly elaborate duties and
increasingly sophisticated systems of coordination (for 'integrated
rural development', for example), as though the staff were a totally flexible instrument of infinite capacity. 11oreover, as the years go
by, more duties and more committees and reporting requirements are added,
without reducing the original load. A second, common, phenomenon is a tendency to create a new Agency for each new need, so that Crop Boards,
Land Boards, Credit Corporations, Natural Resource Boards, Irrigation Authorities, Ranching Corporations, Settlement Boards, with their inevitable accompaniment of coordinating committees, are set up in profusion, and almost without regard either to the skilled manpower available (especially at field level) or to the conflicts of function and authority
which, though excluded on organisational charts, invariably arise in
practice.
14. It would seem clear that the complexity of organisation must be
related to the skill-resources of government. Where these are small,
extremely simple organisational forms, with.a high degree of delegation of discretion to act locally, will be necessary. This cuts across the
manifest tendency to increase complexity and centralisation through
planning controls, theoretical perfectionism, attempts to do too
many things at once (very evident in 'integrated' schemes), and a blind
eye to the realities of Departmental jealousies, bureaucratic traditions
and the motivation, conditions of service and career opportunities for
the minor staff in the field.
Limitation of the Hypothesis
15. The focus of the Reading/ODI work has been on the choice of
organisational and institutional forms within a given policy. Thus
the field is limited in several ways. First, it is not .directly concerned with the formulation of the content of policy, except, somewhat




GUY HUNTER Paper le: 5
indirectly, in so far as a policy may be organisationally impossible to implement. Policies may be chosen primarily on political grounds; and political beliefs may even rule out certain organisational methods e.g. private enterprise, though it will still have to find a mechanism of implementation, largely through public institutions: a bureaucracy, Party Cadres, Cooperatives, Communes, etc. In this Seminar, the opening sessions take account of some of these political choices. Secondly, technical agricultural policy was outside the field cf research. Clearly, if a policy of growing cotton is applied to land which is unsuitable there are many lesssimple but still catastrophic mistakes no amount of good organisation can prevent failure. To a large extent technical choices are very highly location-specific, and therefore unsuited for handling in generalisations of the type which we have considered. Thirdly, the research has concentrated on development policy for the mass of small farmers, largely neglecting plantation agriculture and (except by implication) the management of very large collective or State farms.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS
16. By this time we feel able to go beyond the mere statement that
the four Criteria must be 'taken into account', and to suggest, from the basis of experience and research, some at least of the detailed implications for organisational choices which flow from the use of these Criteria. These implications are arranged under organisational headings, since they may result from applying more than one of the main criteria. I have largely avoided using a 'stage-theory' presentation, because of the well-known difficulties of such an approach& But because we are dealing with a transition, through time, from one pattern of agricultural and economic activity to a different pattern, and because organisational choices have to take into account the point on the line of transition which. a particular farming community has reached at a given time, the concept of sequence and timing through the 'stages' of transition, although they are blurred at the edges, will be always in evidence.
Extension Organisation
17. Because of the insecurity, suspicion and fear of change which
is strongest in the very earliest stages of development, it would appear that a classical 'Community Development' approach is best suited. to communities at this point. Ideally, C.D. staff are trained to get to know a farming community, to listen, to help the community to meet expressed needs, and thereby to gain the trust of the farmers. They may go beyond this, in suggesting new possibilities (not locally known, and therefore not felt2as needs), but they will. not act on these without local consent. This style contrasts, unfortunately, with the most common style of extension staff, who come with a package of supposedly superior practices, usually centrally devised, which they try to persuade the community to adopt. 18. If this initial contact is successful, a time will come when
the farmers, or a substantial number of them, want to go a step further, particularly in increasing incomes rather than in improving social facilities, with which C.D. is often most concerned.




le: 6 Choice of Methods for Implementation
At this point fairly simple but well-founded technical agricultural advice, through extension of tested agricultural techniques, becomes appropriate. There are occasions when a complete and advanced agricultural package can be introduced 'at a blow'; -but since this may involve multiple changes, perhaps commercial as well as technical (purchased inputs, credit, new types of organisation, as well as a different agronomy and crop-protection system), it is more often desirable to advance by stages: line-sowing before fertiliser, savings before credit loans, improved cultural practices before revolutionary changes in varieties and methods. Close contact with farmers by relatively simply trained staff will here be essential.
19. At a much more advanced stage the role of extension and the type
of staff may have to change. The period of motivating farmers to accept change will have passed; what they now need is more and more specialised advice, both agronomic (fertiliser mix, disease control, implements) and economic (costs, prices, farm management). They will also require commercially significant quantities of inputs efficiently delivered and of reliable quality. Extension staff will require better technical training, better supported by specialist advice. The University may well enter the extension field at this point. Further, Government, quite apart from the extension service, will face new duties, in the efficient organisation of supply, repair, marketing, seed-production, agricultural chemicals and machines. Further, because demand is rising, Government may soon be able to pass over the executive responsibility (though not the supervision) to the private sector, since the farmer has, at. last, become a profitable customer for inputs and a producer of commercially. worthwhile outputs, increasedboth in volume and quality.
Credit.
20. There is considerable evidence that, despite appearances, even
poor farmers can find sources of small amounts of cash (US $ 50) when they really want to (e.g. for school fdes, to meet social imperatives). Secondly, that, despite appearances, savings groups of various kinds are quite widespread in many traditional economies, and can also be stimulated. Thirdly, that borrowers are prepared to accept quite high interest rates on small loans for short periods, e.g. 10 per cent for 6 months, equivalent to a 20 per cent per annum rate (but-only $2.50 on $50 for six months). Fourthly, that official crop-season subsidised credit schemes, for farmers in a fairly early stage of development, are extremely costly and not often efficient agriculturally. They are costly either because of low repayment levels or (more frequently, nowadays) because of the high staff costs of loan recovery, except in certain cases where credit is given and recovered by an organisation having monopoly control of the crop. They are agriculturally ineffective because the purchased inputs are spread too thinly, or used for other than the intended purpose, or partially used for consumption or social needs.
21. All these findings point to a far more cautious and more selective
use of official crop-season credit schemes. Some suggestions would be:a) To exhaust other methods of assisting farmers before
purchased inputs for credit started.
b) To stimulate savings before loans (the Comilla principle).




GUY HUNTER Paper le: 7
c) To stress cash purchases by emphasising the cost of credit,
which should be reflected in realistic interest rates.
d) Experimental use of free fertiliser for demonstration over
1 year, followed by cash sales.
e) Encouragement of small, mutually guaranteeing, credit groups.
f) Use of Cooperative credit only after the Cooperative is
firmly established with adequate staffing and management,
since credit is both the least profitable and the most
difficult Cooperative function.
g) Extreme caution in credit provision where the destination
e of the crop is not controlled by the credit agency.
22, All these suggestions reflect the fact that the wise handling
of production credit by farmers is a skill which comes late in his growth towards modern farming, requiring training in its disciplines; that institutional credit is not necessarily his first need, but may become more important when he is already successful and wishing to expand; and that, on the record, credit'administration through official channels is always difficult, and usually both inefficient and expensive.
Grouping of Farmers Cooperatives and Other Groups
23. Agricultural administration has to find some intermediary
between official services and the vast multitude of small farmers, as a point for distribution of physical or credit inputs, as a channel for distribution of information, and as a focus for shared facilities (e.g. storage). Formal Cooperatives have been widely used for this purpose, sometimes for political reasons, soi; etimes-simply as a convenient administrative tool. By criterion 1 (Attitudes, Capacities and Needs) the circumstances in which a formal Cooperative is likely to succeed in the various tasks set it are fairly few and specialised.
24. The Cooperative is a social organisation which cuts across the
most common forms of social grouping in most traditional agricultural communities in the developing countries for example, kinship systems, age-grade systems, landlord-tenant relations, patron-client relations, employer-employee relations, clan systems, tribal societies (West Africa), caste and status systems, and even the mutual assistance schemes (house-building, weeding, harvesting) common in many early societies, which are built on wholly different lines.
25. Nevertheless, if the Cooperative is accepted as an alien
innovation useful for agricultural progress, we must estimate its chances of success in performing two very different and distinguishable functions
a) As a democratic, egalitarian system it is unlikely to
succeed in the early stages of development, when
attitudes of dependency are very high. Only after
a period of economic success which has included a
substantial proportion of previously dependent members
of the community are they likely to modify or sup-




le: 8 Choice of Methods for Implementation
plant the dominance of traditional magnates in the
management of Cooperative affairs.
b) As an economic organisation cooperatives demand considerable
managerial skill, and.a value system which puts a neutral
role efficiency above the obligations to political,
kinship or patron interests. Hpre again, a fairly late
stage of development is implied.
c) Purely as a coherence system (i.e. one relying heavily on
loyalty to the group), Cooperatives are likely to succeed
when the group is small, its members know each other
and have interests consciously shared. This would argue
that Cooperatives should initially be small (50 100
members). This conflicts with commercial efficiency and
capital-accumulation arguments, which point to large
societies with substantial turnover and capital, able to
provide worthwhile services. This difficulty may be
resolved by a small start, and a very gradual expansion.
d) The implications are
i) that formal Cooperatives are not a tool of first choice in the earliest stages:
ii) that coherence will be more likely if: a) the group is initially small, and b) it is built round a clearly needed physical facility (stores, pump, well, motorboat, dairy, etc.) used equally by all members. Pure credit cooperatives have the least impetus to coherence each man wants his own loan.
Popular Representation/Participation
26. There is an increasing emphasis on various forms of elective or
semi-elective popular representation, as an active element in agricultural development, often including executive, or at least decision-, making, responsibility. While these units at village-level (Gram palchayat, Village Development Committee, etc.) have a fairly obvious function (to express local wishes and to contribute local knowledge), the two or more higher tiers, which exist in many countries and in some Projects, appear to have representative functions (they are no longer face-to-face with village people), and in some cases-executive functions where staff are more or less directly under their control.
27. It is doubtful how far the Reading/ODI work can rightly include
this subject, since the purpose of establishing these Committee systems is primarily for political education of the citizens and perhaps for strengthening a dominant political-Party by diffusing Party activity widely through the provinces. But in so far as development as such is in issue, two points emerge. First, direct mobilisation of effort is likely to be successful primarily at village level. The higher levels give orders or pep-talks to villagers; but they may also have an effect (where this is necessary) in prodding the executive bureaucracy into greater energy where that bureaucracy is controlled by the central government. There is little evidence that the higher levels,




GUY I1NT19Z Paper le: 9
where they themselves control development staff, achieve high levels of efficiency or impartiality. Secondly, in so far as development depends on technical expertise and technical decision-making., there is reason to fear failure. The record is often of mainly politicallybased decisions, and of ambitious projects which lack staff and expertise for implementation. In countries where trained-personnel are scarce, a tough and. competent administration, prodded and checked by local councils but not controlled by them, may be both more economical in staff and more technically sound in programming. The information available from mainland China would appear to contradict this statement, since the Communes appear to be effective. But it is as yet hard to distinguish how much-this efficiency is owed to local election-and how much to a bold decentralisation of administration through the Party cadres and nominees, combined with revolutionary enthusiasm and revolutionary discipline too.
The Commercial Function
28. The variations in political policy and in the facts of national
history make this subject the least amenable to wide generalisation. Some countries have indigenous traders and entrepreneurs; in some, immigrants (Asians in East Africa: overseas Chinese in much of S.E. Asia) have, unless politically excluded or restrained, pre-empted much of the commercial sector. In heavily planned economies, and anti-capitalist economies, or where there- is no effective indigenous trading network, this is the stamping ground for parastatal Boards and Corporations, or state-supported Cooperatives.
29. Where these large organisations- deal with a major crop of high
value, not mainly locally consumed in unprocessed or lightly processed .foim, with a fair proportion grown by sizeable and efficient growers, they can succeed fairly well witness some of the Kenya Crop Boards, originally aimed mainly at European growers. But faced by a mass of small growers, bad access by road, uneven quality, and local markets, they seldom can compete with small traders; and, if they have a monopoly, smuggling and black markets will appear, because (in contradiction of the exploitative trader theory) traders and smugglers give the farmers either better prices or quicker and more local service. There is here a penalty exacted by ideological preferences which falls most sharply on the small men whom ideology is designed to protect: it may be a penalty outweighed by other political and social benefits. It is also necessary to weigh the opportunities for patronage and corruption which Boards give, their re-emphasis on State and centralised power, and the economic prizes they offer to the elites and the party which can capture and monopolise control of Government.
Administration
30. The main implication has already been mentioned under Criterion
4 the necessity to match administrative patterns to available managerial skill and budgetary resources. What the Reading/O.D.I. programme has not studied is the possiblity of improving efficiency by better management practices, ably set out in thepaper by Belshaw (5a), and certainly of major importance. A glance at the administrative superstructure of very small States will at once raise questions of proportion. Can State@ with a population no bigger than that of one or two Indian Districts really require so many Ministries, Departments and Boards?




le:lO Choice of Methods for Implementation
DIFFICULTIES OF INTERPRTATION
31. Every person, every village is, in some degree, unique. Clearly
no administrative system can treat everyone differently. This is a difficulty more real in theory than in (possible) practice. General patterns of farm systems exist over areas at least as bi- as one Extension officer's area, and frequently to sizeable administrative areas. The difficulty of adjustment lies in the administration, not in the facts. Again, within a single village there may be a few sophisticated and wealthy farmers, some halfway in transition, some still highly traditional who is to be served? The answer is again fairly clear the smaller, less favoured, more 'traditional'. For if Government programmes are firmly aimed to be feasible and profitable to them, the better-heeled citizens will look after themselves. The trouble with much of the Green Revolution has been that a fairly capital-intensive and complex package has been offered which is, in effect, out of reach of the weaker members.
32. Again, how is the judgement the application of criteria to
be made? Can anyone weigh up all the factors, or decide at which point in a complex transition one particular farming community stands, at a point in time? Again, real life is simpler than theory. Really local people know most of the real local facts, which seem so complex to outside observers, and which Governments at the centre rarely bother about. What is, indeed, more difficult is to estimate the exact point at which a local custom will bow to an economic incentive, and the exact moment when new local leadership will emerge. These questions can indeed only be answered by (intelligent) trial and error.
GENERAL IMPLICATIONS
'3. If the need for closer adaptation of policies and programmes to local situations is accepted, the clear implication is that these situations must be 'known', and the knowledge acted upon. They are, of course, known by the people who live in them. 'Known' must mean known to government, administrators, decision-makers; and also, perhaps, 'analysed, quantified and recorded', since this is the language Which officials and planners understand. This leads to the major, central implication: that local programming decisions must be made very near to the field; because it is only there that there is any real chance of effective local knowledge.
34. Four processes are necessary to push decision-making and discretion downwards from the centre; to establish an acceptable point to which it is pushed; to establish an effective contact with farmers and an'.upward flow of information from them; and to retrain field staff to listen first and advise afterwards. Everyone knows how difficult this is, but primarily because the first step delegation of authority is never taken. It is not t:.ken because: a) politicians, planners and administrators at the centre insist on knowing best; b) simultaneously, knowing that they don't really know, they hang on to slowly changing
generalised orthodoxies: 'Credit is the first step', 'Cooperatives must
be created', 'Elected committees must be set up everywhere', 'Traders
are exploiters', 'Extension staff must deliver packges and achieve
targets', 'Integrated Rural Development'.
35- klinisters, planners, donors and universities all share the
blame for these orthodoxies. There are, indeed, some hopeful signs




GUY HUNTER Paper le:ll
of change. 'District Planning', 'Farmer Service Centres' at local levels; some variations on the Cooperative model. But they are still tentative; and there is still a great deal of detailed work to do in establishing the minimum essential central control; the maximum feasible local discretion; the point and the quality of expert technical input; and the variety of forms of farmer organisation and contact. It is not only work which is needed, but a change of heart at the centre, both as to-exercise of authority and as to the nature of the agricultural planning process.
FOOTNOTES
1. The paper by Phillips and Collinson (4c) and the chapter by
Waheeduddin Khan in Serving the Small Farmer refer.
2. See, e.g., the Animation approach in Niger described in the paper
by Gentil (3o).
3. This transition is admirably described in Kahlon's chapter in
Serving the Small Farmer.
4. Papers by Youngjohns (3i), Hyden (3k) and Texier (3p) refer
particularly.
5. The paper by IHaldipur (Sb) and the chapter by Sinha and Jain
in Serving the Small Farmer refer.
6. Here Trapman's report on Kenya is highly relevant.
7. Roughly ly million inhabitants to one District.




SOCIAL SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT
ANALYSIS AND ACTION
by Guy Hunter
April 15, 1975
1. One major danger in the use of social sciences in development is
that policy and action should follow too closely the findings of partial analysis.
2. This danger is visible at all levels from general ideologies to
micro decisions. At the macro-level, Marxism is as good an example as any. Over the last century Marxist theory has had a compelling appeal, particularly to intellectuals. Its sweeping analysis, based on a high degree of abstraction from selected processes of history and applied to a huge range of human activity politics, economics, culture, religion has a satisfactory elegance and comprehensiveness. But when the believers try to guide action from this analysis, they have to explain away formidable anomalies, which arise from factors assumed away in the analysis. The poor, instead of growing poorer, grow demonstrably richer; well meaning reformers, of the type of, say, Robert Owen, have to be dubbed as Menshevik enemies of the working man; colonial District Commissioners, trying to persuade Africans to send their children to school, or to plant corn in rows, have to be described as capitalist and imperialist exploiters. Worst of all, the analysis precluded any objective assessment of how, after the revolution, the new governors would avoid the temptations of power and greed, or solve the social tensions aroused by a philosophy of violent group conflict needed to heat up the revolution; nor did it consider the social and economic results of attempting to run large nations through the clumsy bureaucracy of the State.
*3. At an intermediate level, economic Planning is subject to the same
criticism. The high degree of abstraction (from very suspect data) which is involved in a national economic plan constantly neglects vast areas of human motivation, ignores deeply held beliefs and fears, and, equally, forgets the opportunities for evading or exploiting the mass of government regulations through which its authors hope to ensure that their projections are fulfilled. It may honestly confess the partial nature of its approach; but it is apt to be used for total social action.
4. Finally, at the micro level, a similar but perhaps more subtle trap
can be seen; alas, I have been falling into it lately myself. For, just because of the imperfections of macro planning, a considerable number of "development thinkers" have sought salvation in micro-planning at the District; nay, at the sub-Disttict; nay, at the village level. For here we shall at last reach reality the actual, complex conditions of motivation and of circumstance in which the poor live; and here we can tailor action to full reality.
5. Quite complex, multi-disciplinary analysis is needed at this level.
In the rural area, an economist with farm-management training must be there;, surely a social'anthropologist would be essential? The need for an agronomist goes without saying; but what about a public administration expert with management theory experience to suggest a system for running the Extension Service? And a political scientist? for we cannot forget elitism, TANU, political arenas and socio-political scenarios. An ecologist...?




-2
6. To research-minded people this analysis is immensely attractive and
I (gladly) prophesy that a very great deal of it will be done over the next ten years. But how does it look to the administrator and to the government?
Where are all these experts to be found? How much will they cost? How long
will they take to survey even a group of a dozen villages before anyone should
dare to suggest an executive programme which will meet all the difficulties
which their final report will enumerate?
7. I am sorry to ask these destructive questions, for I firmly believe
that the switch of attention to local realities, and the careful reconnaissance of an area before a programme for it is imposed would represent a great advance, not only from general ideological approaches but from central national direction.
But can we really believe that government in a large country will take on this
huge task of detailed diagnosis and detailed local prescription? Is it possible
to treat some millions of farmers in this nurse-maiding way?
8. What I am saying is NOT that the research should not be done, at least
in a far greater number of varied situations each of which might, to the best
feasible degree, typify an area. My thesis is really in two parts. First, that
the choice of action cannot simply arise from analysis (if sociological issues arise, a sociologist must be sent in). Action is constrained by other considerations by feasibility in manpower and expense; by knowledge of the capacity
of 3rd level field officers; and, above all, by the aim of providing, not a thousand individual prescriptions but a physical and motivational environment within which the main actors (farmers and officials) can use moderately enlightened common sense and discussion to find their own way through their part
- of the forest. Government action must be broader and simpler than the sum of analysis implies.
9. The second part rests on a belief that sample researching at micro
level (more of it, and better done), will in fact reveal common factors, common guidelines to conduct, by means of which commonsense can indeed be enlightened. This, of course, implies a belief that the local social process itself, enabled by adequate infrastructural help, but not constrained by detailed regulation, has the necessary dynamism to meet its own problems.
10. Ultimately, this means a belief in the free society.* But even relative simplicity of government action will not be achieved by simple thinking, or just saying "Participation," "Democracy." Just as clear and simple engineering design is painfully evolved from Heath Robinson complexity, so the lines of simpler and more effective government action will need much hard and detailed work in elucidating local facts and problems. The tabk of the Social Scientist remains, to inform the designers of action; but the design will not follow their detailed path.
*Cf. "We all want to be God, and to manage things much better than God.. .by eliminating just these possibilities of error in which human freedom consists."