Socioeconomic considerations in multiple cropping systems

Material Information

Socioeconomic considerations in multiple cropping systems
Hildebrand, Peter E.
Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricolas
Place of Publication:
Guatemala, C.A.
Sector Publico Agricola, Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricolas
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24 leaves ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Farming ( LCSH )
Caribbean ( LCSH )
Agriculture ( LCSH )
Farm life ( LCSH )
Multiple cropping -- Guatemala ( LCSH )
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General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
"May, 1977."
General Note:
"An invited paper prepared for the Round Table Discussion on Agricultural Production Systems, XVI Annual Reunion of the Board of Directors, Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias Agricolas -- IICA, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 18, 1977."
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 23-24).
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Peter E. Hildebrand

An invited paper prepared for the Round Table Discussion on
Agricultural Production Systems
XVI Annual Reunion of the Board of Directors
Institute Interamericano de Ciencias Agrrcolas IICA
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
May 18, 1977

Socioeconomra Rural
May, 1977



Peter E. Hildebrand


Multiple cropping as usually conceived, is adapted principally to small

and medium traditional or subsistence farmers who have a relative abundance of

labor that facilitates the intensive cultivation required in most systems.2 Be-

cause most farmers in the developing countries of the Americas are in this class,

this will be the type of multiple cropping system considered. This means we will

be discussing systems in which several different crops are grown in the course of

the year and two or more usually occupy the land at the same time. As an exam-

ple, a system called "milpa" in Central America, is a combination of corn and

beans along with other crops that depend on conditions in each zone. In addi-

tion, traditional and subsistence farmers many times have goals different from

those of commercial farmers and they may be difficult for us as agricultural tech-

1 Agricultural Economist, The Rockefeller Foundation, assigned as Coordinador
de Socioeconomfa Rural, Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologra Agrfcolas (ICTA),
Guatemala. Special thanks are extended to Ing. Astolfo Fumagalli, Subge-
rente of ICTA and Luis Manlio Castillo, Director de Divulgacion for helpful
comments and suggestions.
2 The exceptions are those cases of intensive sequential cropping that usually
depend on mechanization to shorten the time between harvest of one crop and
planting of the next.


nicians to understand. As a result of these factors, the usual economic measures

by which we judge crop technology on commercial farms are not always useful in

determining the appropriateness of a multiple cropping system to a small, tradi-

tional or subsistence farmer.

It is difficult for many agronomists to conceptualize the conversion of agro-

socioeconomic information into guidelines for designing agronomic technology,

with the notable exception of the criterion of profitability. Indeed, this criterion

is still one of the most important we have in judging the applicability of a tech-

nology for any farmer, but alone, measures productivity only in terms of one pos-

sibly limiting resource. In order to increase the probability of adoption, the pro-

ductivity of the other resources which are limiting must be considered for each

specific group of farmers.

Most modern monoculture technology including high populations, close row

and plant spacings, high levels of fertilization, rigid pest control schedules and

costly seed that must be newly purchased every year, is designed for conditions

in which machinery is available, capital is abundant, the entire crop is sold, and

labor is a scarce resource. In most situations, these are exactly opposite the con-

ditions faced by the traditional farmer who produces with little or no machinery

and almost never with a tractor, who has very little capital to spend on his agri-

cultural entreprises, utilizes the majority of his crop for family consumption and

farms mostly with his own family's labor on farms so small that labor is usually an

abundant factor of production.


In this paper, I will first discuss some economic concepts important in un-

derstanding socioeconomic implications of multiple cropping systems, then I will

describe a methodology for studying the agro-socioeconomic conditions of farmers

as it relates to the designing of technology for them and in which the farmers are

integrated into the generation and evaluation process. Finally, some examples

of cropping systems designed for specific agro-socioeconomic conditiorswill be



Measures of productivity in multiple cropping systems is a particularly both-

ersome issue both because more than one product is involved and because the most-

usudJ concepts of productivity may not be the most relevant to the farmer for whom

the system is being generated. In common agricultural dialogue, productivity

frequently refers only to yield, or crop production per unit of land. Technically,

productivity can refer to the amount of a product (total, average or additional)

for any of the inputs used in the production process. Hence, in order to describe

productivity accurately, one must be specific with respect to product (numerator),

input (denominator), and whether total, average or additional(marginal) produc-

tion is being considered.

No one measure of productivity is necessarily the best for any particular

cropping system or class of farmer. The most relevant inputs will depend on the

situation found in each area and are usually very site specific, It will make no


sense to a farmer to measure productivity in terms of land if this is not the most

limiting factor of production in his situation. Rather, productivity should be

measured in terms of the resources which most limit the capability of the farmer

to produce or increase his income. To mention some specific cases, water (West

Pakistan, 1967), potato seed (Andrew, 1969), labor at planting time (Reiche,, 1976), and land (Duarte, 1977) all have been found to be the

most important inputs or resources for measuring productivity for different agro-

socioeconomic situations.

Errors in the choice of resources with which to measure productivity can

lead to the generation of cropping systems unacceptable to the farmers for whom

they were being designed simply because productivity of the most important fac-

tor from the farmer's point of view may actually be less, even though when mea-

sured in the technician's terms, productivity may have improved over the tradi-

tional system. In the Colombian case, researchers and extension workers were

frustrated because farm yields (or productivity) per hectare were not increasing

in accordance with known potential even though farmers were adopting many of

the recommendations being given. Because potato seed was the most limiting

resource for the farmers, they were planting in such a manner that the produc-

tivity of the seed was increasing significantly, yet because they were planting

less than the recommended amount of seed per hectare, productivity per hectare,

or yield, was not so great as expected by the scientists based on their erroneous

(in this case) concept of productivity.


in the above example, only potatoes were considered. In multiple crop-

ping systems, when more than one crop is being produced, another type of prob-

lem arises. This has to do with the choice of the "product" in which to measure

productivity. If one measures the productivity of a corn-bean system only in

terms of corn production, then increases in bean productivity are forfeited. On

the other hand, it does not make sense to sum the production of corn plus beans,

because they are two completely different products (especially, for instance, if

the beans are harvested as green beans).

In order to be useful, the unit for measuring productivity must satisfy sev-

eral criteria (Hildebrand, 1976, p.349). First, it must be common to all the

products, a criterion that energy, dry matter or protein would fulfill. Second,

it should be relatively easy to measure, particularly in practical or applied situa-

tions as opposed to laboratory conditions. Third, it must reflectquality differ-

ences between the products, and fourth, it must provide a means of comparing

different cropping systems. But the most important criterion of all is that the

manner of measuring productivity must make sense to the farmer for whom the

multiple cropping system is designed. If the farmer cannot understand the pro-

ductivity unit or it is not meaningful to him, it will not be useful in helping him

judge potential benefits of the system nor in allocating his resources on the farm.

Probably the most useful unit that meets all five criteria is market value

of the products. Even though market value varies with price changes over time,

this is also a means of keeping productivity measures current. Seasonal price


changes can, and should be considered in designing cropping systems, as can and

should longer term price trends. Energy or dry matter differences between crops

or products will be constant (or nearly so) over time but if the value which the

market places on the quality differences of these units varies, this must be re-

flected in judging the system. Location differences can also be reflected when

market value of the product is used. This last factor reflects net price at the farm


Notice that market price as used here is not the net price after deducting

costs of production. Another little understood economic concept of cropping

systems is that it is not possible to determine the cost of production per unit of

each crop produced. Assuredly some of the cost items, such as seed, are specific

to only one of the products. But the majority of inputs, for example fertilizer,

are utilized by more than one of the crops and any method of allocating costs of

these joint inputs among the different crops would be purely arbitrary and serve

little useful purpose. Hence, net income of the multiple cropping systems must

be just that -- net to the system. The only means of determining the contribution

of a particular crop to the profitability of the system is to grow the system with

and without that crop and calculate the net income for each of the systems as a


One other economic concept should be mentioned because it can answer

some of the uncertainties concerning the relative benefits of a multiple cropping


system over growing the same crops in monoculture. Because of the nature of

the production possibilities relation among different crops on the same farm, it

is frequently more beneficial for a small farmer with few resources to specialize

in only one crop enterprise than to diversify into several.4 An important aspect

of a multiple cropping system is that it functions for the farmer as a single enter-

prise even though more than one product is produced. Hence, such systems are

especially well suited to small farmers with few resources.


It has been demonstrated, albeit briefly, that multiple cropping systems are

significantly more difficult to analyze than monoculture or sole cropping. Because

relevant factors in judging multiple cropping systems are more complex and be-

cause many times the critical ones are unknown to the researchers and can be very

site specific, a specialized methodology must be created to serve as the basis for

generating appropriate technology for small and medium farmers.

In Guatemala, the effort of the Institute of Agricultural Science and Tech-

nology (ICTA) is primarily oriented toward the small and medium, traditional and

subsistence farmers who are the most important producers of basic grains in the

country. The methodology used by the Institute is appropriate to the complete

3 The Land Equivalent Ratio, usually greater than 1 in multiple cropping, is a
related concept but will not be discussed in this paper.

4 The technical explanation is available in Hildebrand, 1976, pp. 356-361.


farm system which is more our emphasis than one or another type of cropping

system. However, because the methodology starts with a study of the specific

agro-socioeconomic conditions of the farmers in an area and technology genera-

tion is oriented toward these conditions, it is very appropriate to discuss it at this

time as a means of showing the feasibility of incorporating socioeconomic factors

in multiple cropping technology. The integrated, multidisciplinary system (Hilde-

brand, 1977) is flexible and modifications are still being made, but a definite

format has emerged and is being utilized at the present time; hence, it is practi-

cal and fits within a national program budget, so is not merely a theoretical


The majority of the technical personnel in the Institute work at the regional,

or more specifically the sub-regional or project area level and here they form an

integrated and multidisciplinary team whose work -- the generation and promo-

tion of technology-- is divided into five broadly defined activities:

1. Agro-socioeconomic studies

2. Germplasm selection

3. Farm trials

4. Farmers' tests

5 Evaluation

Except for the early stages of germplasm selection and some basic work in agro-

nomic practices, which is conducted at the regional experiment stations, all of

the activities are conducted on farms and mostly with farmer participation.



As a project team is formed to work in a new area, the first activity is a

reconnaissance to define a target group of farmers homogeneous with respect to

their traditional farming systems and technology (agro-socioeconomic character-

istics) and delimit the zone within which this group is an important section of the

farm population. The theoretical premise for selection of the target farmers and

work area on this basis is that farmers who are homogeneous with respect to their

traditional cropping systems have been selected by a long, natural process into a

group with common agro-socioeconomic characteristics and are responding in a

similar manner to the most important limiting factors they face. The task of the

project team is to identify the common factors or agro-socioeconomic character-

istics and then assess the relative importance of each to the generation of improved

technology. The obvious advantage of this procedure over choosing a target group

by farm size, political boundary or other artificial parameter, is that the factors

the "homogeneous group" have in common are those that affect their agricultural

technology -- and those are the ones with which the team must be concerned. In

many cases these will be the same resources or inputs by which the farmers mea-

sure productivity (i.e., the denominator in the productivity ratio).

The reconnaissance and survey are usually completed in the period between

crop seasons and depth of interview rather than number of interviews is stressed.

The purpose of the survey is not to obtain benchmark information but to identify

factors and problems important in generating technology. Although some prelim-

- 10-

inary cost information is obtained in the survey, it is based on recall and is not

sufficiently accurate to use in economic analyses of farm trial data. For this

and other reasons, a minimum of 25 collaborators are chosen toinitiate farm re-

cords immediately after the survey is completed. This number is increased to at

least 50 in the second and succeeding years and the information serves as a basis

for monitoring change and the acceptance of technology. The farm records are

simple forms on which the farmer notes each day, for each crop, the work he has

done, on what area, with what contracted and family labor, and the inputs

which were used. Other information such as planting distances, populations,

varieties, etc., are obtained in discussions on the frequent visits made by ICTA

personnel. Through these periodic visits, the farmers become permanent con-

tacts for the technicians, and are useful sounding boards on which to test new

ideas or to provide information on general problems wNch in less personal situa-

tions may never be discussed.


The survey information is analyzed by the regional team, who use it to

plan farm trials in which existing varieties are tested and agronomic practices

and cropping systems are explored and to orient plant breeders in their germ-

plasm selection process. In the first year, one of the primary purposes of the

farm trials, for which ICTA and the farmers share expenses, is for the members

of the team to familiarize themselves first hand with the farmers' systems and to

- 11 -

continue the process of identifying problems and limitations. For this reason,

the number of trials is small, the design is flexible to permit changes when they

seem desirable, and the technicians work very closely with farmers from the tar-

get group, using them as advisors and not just workers. A limited number of the

most promising varieties can be screened in the first year and preliminary fertil-

izer response work can also be included. But the nature of these latter activi-

ties should not interfere with the primary purpose of the first year's trials -- be-

coming thoroughly familiar with the target farmers, their traditional technology

and the project area.

Two different types of Farm Trials are used. The first, which could be

termed Basic Farm Trials or Technical Trials (Ensayos agrotecnicos)are used when

the trial needs to be replicated to provide information on response for each

specific site. These are usually, though not necessarily, conducted in more than

one location within the zone and include variety trials as well as work on agron-

omic practices. In most cases the check treatment is a representative, traditional

technology of the region.

Before a practice or "technology" can be passed to farmers for Farmers'

Tests, ICTA technicians must be satisfied that the practice works, that it is prac-

tical for the target farmers of the area, and that it is economical (in the broad

sense of the term). To satisfy these criteria, promising practices,crop systemsor

materials usually will be subjected to "Agroeconomic Trials" (Ensayos Agroecono-

- 12-

micos). These trials are designed to provide economic as well as agronomic in-

formation on a region (rather than a site) basis; hence, there are many trials,

well distributed throughout the area but they are not replicated at each location.

The number of treatments is limited and one of them must be the traditional tech-

nology (usually the technology of each farmer rather than one standard, represen-

tative technology, more often used in the technical trials). Economic as well as

agronomic records are maintained and both economic and agronomic analyses are

made. Estimates of risk associated with each treatment or practice are calculated

to aid in assessing potential effect on farmers who may adopt the technology.


In the Farm Trials, the ICTA technicians evaluate the technology being

produced. A critical aspect of the Farmers' Tests is that the farmer is the prime

evaluator. The technician becomes an interested spectator who obtains what

information he can from the trial, but the information obtaining procedure should

not interfere with the farmer's capability to judge the practice for himself. It is

important that the practice be conducted strictly by the farmer with only the tech-

nical advice of the technician. This is different from the Farm Trial in which it

is the technician who is responsible for conducting the work. Another very im-

portant aspect of Farmers' Tests is that the farmer pays for all costs except tech-

nical assistance. In other words, he is a full partner in the testing procedure.

- 13-

The ideal Farmers' Tests includes two, three or at most four equal and sim-

ilar sites on the farm Each should be large enough to be significant for the

farmer, to insure he gives them the attention they merit. On one, the farmer

plants in his accustomed manner and on the other or others he plants according to

the technology being tested. This technology must be simple enough that he can

comprehend and conduct it himself.5 Where possible, differences in time require-

ments and inputs used, both on the farmer's own plot as well as actual use on the

"ICTA" plot, should be determined and recorded. Yield information should also

be obtained. These data provide much more realistic information on how the

practice or technology will work in the hands of the farmers and, in particular,

provide much better estimates of the risk factor than is available from the Farm

Trials. But if the farmer indiscriminately harvests the two plots and yield data

are not available, the test should not be considered lost, because the farmer ob-

viously has made up his mind about the practice. Whether his decision is pos-

itive or negative, he has evaluated the technology and the following planting

season, his decision will be evident in what he does.

Although ICTA does not have extension responsibilities (they are in DIGE-

SA) it is obvious that Farmers' Tests (and to some extent Farm Trials) initiate the

5 This simple technology is a choice of one, two or at most three alternatives
such as a new variety alone or a simple modification of his cropping system.
We have found in testing complete and complex "technological packages",
that the farmer may select two or three not necessarily complementary parts,
and may be worse off than before. Simplified technology can also have an
important influence on credit policy. Technological packages are sufficiently
complex that credit programs tend to lend for almost all expenses. With sim-
ple technology changes, only the small additional cost, if any, needs to be

- 14-

process of technology transfer. Recognizing that the Institute must promote the

use of its technology over a sufficiently wide number of cases to validate its

evaluation process, this amount of promotion or transfer is considered appropri-

ate for research purposes. The coordination of this activity with extension is

covered in another section.


It is in the year following the Farmers' Tests, that ICTA again becomes the

evaluator. This time, the evaluation is with regard to the acceptance or rejec-

tion of the technology by the farmers who conducted the Tests. If a high pro-

portion put the technology into practice over a large part of their land, it can

be considered well accepted. In this case, it can be recommended to the Exten-

sion Service as a technology that will be readily received. When the farmers

reject the practice, attempts are made to determine why, and then if it still looks

promising, it will go back to one of the previous steps in the technology generat-

ing process for further development. If the practice has been rejected for reasons

which cannot immediately be corrected, it joins the pool of basic information for

future use and reference.

6 Two reports on evaluations have been published: Busto Brol,, 1976 and
Ruano,, 1976

- 15-

The farm records provide information which is used for longer run evalua-

tion on changes in practices and yields; and comprise a more representative sam-

ple than of only those farmers who participated in Farmers' Tests. Ultimately,

a completely randomized sample of all target farmers will need to be conducted

to determine adoption of technologies, but this has not been undertaken in any

area to date.


Figure 1 shows schematically this integrated, multidisciplinary approach

to the generation and promotion of technology for small, traditional farmers.

Three factors in this figure were not discussed previously: 1) the inputs to the

system from international centers, universities, industry, etc.; 2) the product

from the agro-socioeconomic studies which goes to the other entities within the

Public Agricultural Sector; and 3) the relationship to other entities, both public

and private, with respect to the transfer of the technology to the target farmers

and for other purposes.

The two public agencies with which ICTA has the closest relationship are

DIGESA (extension and credit assistance) and BAND ESA (credit). Coordination

at the inter-institutional level has been weak, but should strengthen considerably

this year. The area of greatest emphasis is to create closer cooperation between

ICTA's Farmers' Tests and initial extension tests or demonstration plots. Begin-

















NO] Tr














Y ES..



- 16-

ning this year, some DIGESA personnel will work under ICTA supervision in Farm-

ers' Tests so they are familiar with the technology before it is placed in their con-

trol At the same time, the DIGESA personnel will be familiarized with the tech-

nology generating process and the new technology being evaluated in the Farm



In an area in eastern Guatemala, the agro-socioeconomic survey provided

information indicating that the two controllable factors most important in limit-

ing production of the traditional farmers on the steep hillsides were the availabil-

ity of labor in the short planting season and the amount of bean seed the farmer

had left to plant. The "milpa" of the subsistence farmers in this area includes

corn, beans and sorghum planted together at the same time in a number of simi-

lar arrays. Through the use of twin or double rows of corn and sorghum and a

reduction in the population of beans which consume the majority of planting time,

productivity of planting labor and of bean seed was raised significantly by allow-

ing each farmer to plant more land than he previously had been able to with his

traditional cropping system. This non-traditional technology is possible because

amount of land is not a limiting factor for most farmers in the area.

7 In this case, the most frequent response farmers made with respect to bean
yields was so-many pounds per pound of seed used.

8 Details on the use of double rows can be found in: Hildebrand, 1976; Hilde-
brand,, 1977; Hildebrand and Cardona, 1977; and French and Hilde-
brand, 1977.

- 17-

Results from Farmers' Tests in 1976 indicate that on the average, each

farmer could plant about 40% more land using the same amount of planting labor

and somewhat less bean seed and produce 75% more corn, 40% more sorghum,

the same amount of beans and 33% more income (Hildebrand and Cardona, 1977).

The system allows him to work about 60 more days on his farm than otherwise

would be the case and earn about $1.25 per day which is slightly under what he

has to pay for hired labor. The productivity of labor for planting and bean seed

(the scarcest resources) rose from $5.48 per dollar invested to $8.73, an increase

of nearly 60%. Risk of loss is very low and there is no requirement for pesticides

or fertilizer that the farmer normally does not use in these conditions. This year,

as Farmers' Tests are being conducted on a wider scale, emphasis is being given

to conservation practices which must accompany a higher proportion of cultivated

area on these rocky slopes.

In the Central Highlands, another survey showed that land was the most

limiting factor and capital was very scarce, but labor was relatively abundant

throughout the year. In addition, three strata of subsistence farmers were defined

(Duarte,, 1977). One cannot produce enough corn to sustain the family

for the year, a second stratum achieves self sufficiency at times, but not always,

and the third always produces enough to satisfy family needs. Each of these

three strata has different requirements eventhough their cropping system is basi-

cally the same, and a special technology was designed for each.

- 18-

For the first stratum, and again, using the concept of double rows, the pop-

ulation of corn was increased 50% without changing the form of planting within

each row and using the same amount of fertilizer and seed per hill that the farmers

are accustomed to using. The system, in effect, gives them 50% more land on

which to plant, but because of some economies in labor utilization, such as not

needing to prepare the extra land, labor costs increase only 30%. Corn produc-

tion increased 45% and profit, after charging opportunity cost for all labor, rose

from $7 per hectare to $60 (Hildebrand,, 1977). More important, it

would permit the average farmer in this group to achieve self sufficiency in the

production of corn.

For the farmer in the second category who desires to diversify and has a

little capital to invest (mostly earned by his wife weaving local cloth) we were

able to plant 40% of the land to wheat (the least risky alternative) and at the

same time plant the normal population of corn on the same land using the double

rows. This system, with a one meter bed of wheat, traditionally broadcast by

hand, between each set of twin corn rows, presents some very useful labor ef-

ficiencies and also increases labor use only approximately 30% over the tradi-

tional corn system used in the area. Corn production dropped slightly (though

it was not statistically significant) but 1266 kg/ha of wheat was produced and

profit increased to $219 per hectare. This multiple cropping system compares

with $124 per hectare if each of the cropshad been seeded alone.

- 19-

In another system, cabbages were planted in the wheat about two weeks

before the wheat was planted, and provide a great possibility for the third class

of farmer who has some risk capital to invest in crops with more income earning

potential (and risk). Nearly 14,000 cabbages can be planted per hectare with-

out having a negative effect on the wheat. Although demand does not exist for

large additional amounts of cabbage nor could they be absorbed by the present

marketing system, there is potential for the production of broccoli and cauli-

flower for freezing as well as the incorporation ofcther crops into the system.

In all three systems, only the traditional amounts of fertilizer were used

and no insecticides were applied, in accordance with the findings of the survey.

Additional advances can, of course, be achieved, with the incorporation of

these factors as well as the use of improved varieties, all of which can be included

in the longer run. However, we are finding that even in these components of

cropping systems, we need to differentiate between subsistence and commercial

crops even on the same farm and for the same farmers.

This is most easily seen with respect to varieties in the Highlands, where

corn and beans have been the subsistence crops of the area for hundreds of years

and wheat is a relatively recent introduction and almost never consumed in the

home. There is a much greater tendency to accept new technology for the com-

mercial crop than for the corn and beans. Evidence of this is available from the

evaluation study made in the Western Highlands (Ruano, et. al., 1976). Among

- 20 -

the collaborators, 97% of the wheat was impro\dvarieties while only 31% of the

corn was one of the recommended varieties even though there is a high response

from corn variety in the area (Schmoock,, 1976). We have also established

that on the South Coast where corn is primarily a commercial crop sold at harvest,

farmers readily accept hybrids, while in the Highlands, where they have histori-

cally saved their own seed, open pollinated varieties are necessary.

The availability of water in sufficient quantity and under safe conditions

to be able to use liquid pesticides is a limiting factor for many small farmers that

has previously been overlooked. On the South Coast, where little liquid insec-

ticide had been used, we found a rapid acceptance of granulated insecticides that

can be applied easily with virtually no purchased equipment and without the need

for water except for washing hands after use. This same area faces an accute

and increasing shortage of labor, and herbicides should be very advantageous.

However, herbicide use is not common, partially because of the difficulty of

application and the need for sources of water and equipment. If recommendations

for the use of granulated herbicides can be developed, it should be a readily ac-

cepted technology, because the yield potential has already been demonstrated,

and the need as a substitute for labor exists.

Another cultural factor is very important in corn technology in the High-

lands. Among the indigenous farmers, young corn plants are treated as a child

(Ruano,, 1976), so they are almost never knowingly destroyed until they

-21 -

can provide a useful product. Hence, the farmers plant only a few seeds and

then reseed if the number of plants drops too low in any hill. The net result is

a less than optimum productive population. The usual technical solution is to

plant higher than necessary number of seeds and thin after germination to the

desired number of plants per hill. But for obvious reasons, this meets a tremen-

dous cultural resistance on the part of these farmers, and will probably not be

adopted on any large scale in this area.


Multiple cropping systems for small and medium traditional and subsistence

farmers involve the production of several different crops each year with two or

more usually occupying the land at the same time. The social and economic goals

of these farmers, many of whom historically have utilized multiple cropping sys-

tems, are different from those of commercial farmers and may be difficult for

agricultural technicians to understand. As a result of these factors, the usual

measures by which we judge crop technology, are not always applicable. In

order to determine which social, cultural and economic factors are important in

the cropping systems of the farmers for whom technology is being generated, a

specialized methodology must be created. The Guatemalan Institute of Science

and Technology (ICTA) has developed such a methodology in which the farmers

themselves play an important and integrated role. The use of this methodology

has led to the creation of multiple cropping systems designed for the conditions

of farmers with site-specific agro-socioeconomic conditions.

- 22 -

Perhaps the key concept presented in this paper is that for the small and

medium, traditional and subsistence farmer, inclusion of social, cultural, and

economic factors can be as important in designing successful multiple cropping

systems as the agro-climatic factors, which too frequently are the only ones con-



23 -


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