Este es Un recursi protegldo por los Derechos de Autor Digitalizado con
su permiso Todos derechos reservados por el Instituto de Ciencia y
This is a Copynghted resource Digitzed with permission
All rights reserved by the institute de Ciencia y Technologa Argicolas
test une ressource GARANTIE LES DROETS D'AUTEUR Digrtalis
avec sa permission Tous drots r6seives par s Instituto de Ciencia y
SECTOR POMlico AGORPECUIARIO Y Df AIIMENTACION
INSTrTUTO DE CIENAY TECOLOGIAAGRICOLAS
2m 1 $ Carai, l P l. a Vl aNuv
POX (TOO 0ae eM
pJn1iF lf d F6 I ra
Eml"h D! HfHdibrsm
DO r0lrO ftenilIe inflam cme dle Dcno la d a $ W iud enmada *ja ocanedo
idrni0e 0 da ::ccoCnornla -mrl trf0[nll4M d1f1 ICTA aKle D tEpaHsi sui::nra BH
reuaigniricl Ionando aln hopalar fln la Pen':IO en Provid4n0a AJ KiDO 0?6
MOTelioparirjcular B&pi kl; &usurVsM R
A Peninnie iim" OR
1. Ar pfloI! OC laloI
INTEGRATED, MULTIDISCIPLINARY TECHNOLOGY
GENERATION FOR SMALL, TRADITIONAL FARMERS OF GUATEMALA
Peter E. Hildebrand
Sergio Ruano A.
Presented at the Annual Meeting of
The Society for Applied Anthropology
April 2-9, 1978
INSTITUTE DE CIENCIA Y TECNOLOGIA AGRICOLAS
SECTOR PUBLIC AGRICOLA
INTEGRATED, MULTIDISCIPLINARY TECHNOLOGY
GENERATION FOR SMALL, TRADITIONAL FARMERS OF GUATEMAL
Peter E. Hildebrand
Sergio Ruano A.
Small traditional or subsistence farmers who have been ieft behind in the
march of modern agriculture, present a unique challenge to scientists and tech-
nicians whose responsibility it is to develop improved technologies adapted to
the specific sets of conditions which confront these farmers in their daily lives.
Many scientists who are trying to reach the world's small and traditional farmers
now realize that it is precisely these site specific conditions which have been
responsible for the lack of advance into modern agriculture even while commer-
cial and mechanized farmers are able to adopt new technologies as fast as they
are developed. The difference is that the tractor is an overriding homogenizing
factor which makes the generation of technology for mechanized farmers a rela-
tively easy task. The differences encountered from mechanized farm to mecha-
nized farm can be as few as two -- soils and climate. Technologies generated
in one set of these conditions are not difficult to modify, test and release in an-
other set. But smaller, traditional farmers who do not have mechanization are
affected by a multitude of factors in addition to soils and climate. Notable
among these can be social, cultural or economic factors which hardly enter into
the picture of the commercial farmer. These latter factors, for example, can be
1 Agricultural Economist, The Rockefeller Foundation assigned as Coordinador
de Socioeconomra Rural e Investigador Asistente Profesional, respectivamente.
such things as the unavailability of some inputs, the scarcity of labor during cer-
tain critical periods in the production process, or religions taboos concerning crop-
ping practices. In many cases, these "other" factors are critical to the point of
being the most important in determining what the farmer can and cannot do, and
hence what technologies he can and cannot adopt.
Three characteristics of the agro-socioeconomic factors that influence and
affect small traditional farmers complicate the work of the technicians. One,
already mentioned, is the site specificity of these factors. Another is that there
are more of them to be considered than is the case for mechanized, commercial
farmers. Finally, those factors which are important in each area represent.an
unknown set to be searched out in each site. Because of these problems, to suc-
cessfully develop technologies suited to different groups of traditional farmers,
several social and biological disciplines must work together. The work of such
a multidisciplinary team is to 1) separate farmers into homogeneous groups, 2)
discover the factors they have in common and determine which are critical in
each particular case, and 3) develop technologies for which the productivity of
the most restrictive factors can be increased or find another way to relieve the
pressure from the restrictive factor or factors. Finally it is important to assure
that the technologies are acceptable to the farmers so they will be adopted on
a large scale.
A key task in the separation of farmers into homogeneous groups. Obvi-
ously, the larger the group, the more economical is the operation. But in rec-
ognizing site specificity, it is necessary to be realistic and accept that polit-
ical boundaries or farm size classes will not necessarily contain just one homo-
geneous farm group. Because the product of the multidisciplinary team is crop
or livestock technology, the most appropriate means of separating farmers into
homogeneous groups is on the basis of their present crop or livestock systems.
Farmers, who over time have responded or adjusted in the same way to the var-
ious agro-socioeconomic factors influencing them, are probably being affected
by the same factors in approximately the same magnitude; hence, they would
be expected to react in like manner to any improved or modified technology.
For this reason, the multi-disciplinary approach begins with, and depends on
the selection of a specific target group of farmers with which to work.
A corollary to a completely integrated, multidisciplinary approach is
that these same target farmers, as representatives of another "discipline" or
point of view, be incorporated directly into the process as active participants.
This is accomplished by initiating the technology generation process be means
of obtaining information on farms, by utilizing the farmers as advisors through
continuing contacts, by the operation of a coordinated farm record-keeping
component, by conducting most experimental work on farms and under farm
conditions, and by requesting the farmers, themselves, to test the technology
as part of the evaluation procedure.
It is important to note that this approach is not limited to small or tradi-
tional farmers -- it can be used equally on all types of farms. However, the
more traditional or less mechanized the farms are, the more necessary it is that
the approach be used. But by the very nature of the procedure -- providing a
clear orientation for technology generation -- it follows thodt the methodology,
when used for all farm conditions, can effectively increase the efficiency of all
applied research by increasing the probability of its ultimate adoption by the
target group of farmers. The primary requirements are the selection of the tar-
get group on the basis of their present cropping or livestock system and the
study of this group by a multi-disciplinary team to clearly define the critical
factors which influence the choice criteria of the farmers and hence, the choice
An important consideration and potential problem related to the utiliza-
tion of different choice criteria, is the selection of the relevant measures of
productivity to use in judging the technology being generated. In common ag-
ricultural dialogue,- productivity usually refers only to yield, or production
per unit of land. Technically, however, productivity can refer to the amount
of a product in terms of any of the inputs used in the production process. No
one measure of productivity is necessarily the best for any particular farming
system or class of farmers. The most relevant measures will depend on the choice
criteria of the farmers in each area and is usually very site specific among tra-
ditional and subsistence farmers. Errors in the choice of resources or factors
with which to measure productivity can lead to the generation of technologies
unacceptable to the farmers for whom they were being designed simple because
productivity of the most important factor from the farmers' point of view and
based on their own choice criteria, may actually be less, even though when
measured in the technicians' traditional terms, productivity may have improved
over the traditional system. But, it will make no sense to a farmer to measure
productivity in terms of land, for example, if this is not the most limiting fac-
tor of production in his situation.
In order to meet the challenge of generating technology for small, tradi-
tional and subsistence farmers who produce the majority of basic grains in Gua-
temala, the Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology -ICTA- has been
developing a methodology in which the social sciences play an integrated role.
The methodology reflects the need for rapid results from low budget research.
To speed up adoption and help reduce cost, farmers are involved in all phases
of the research process and play a key role in decisions. The methodology leads
to technologies for precisely specified agronomic and socioeconomic conditions
(which vary widely in Guatemala) and minimize the possibility of recommend-
ing technologies which are inappropriate and high-risk to the farmers, and
hence, technologies which they resist, or ultimately do not adopt.
2 For a more complete discussion on measures of productivity relevant to small
and traditional or subsistence farmers, see Hildebrand, 1976, pp 347-349.
3 The Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agri'colas -ICTA- was created by law
in October, 1972, and formally inaugurated on May 10, 1973.
This integrated, multi-disciplinary system (Hildebrand, 1977) is flexible
and modifications are continuously being made, but a definite format has emerged
and is being utilized at the present time. It is important to note that this is not
a theoretical exercise or a demonstration or pilot project, but rather it is being
used by a semi-autonomous institute within the Ministry of Agriculture. Hence,
it is a practical methodology which fits within a national program budget.
The majority of the technical personnel in the Institute work at the regional
or sub-regional level and here they form an integrated and multi-disciplinary
team whose work -- the generation and promotion of technology -- is divided
into five broadly defined activities:
1. Agro-socioeconomic studies
2. Germplasm selection
3. Farm trials
4. Farmers' tests
Except for the early stages of germplasm selection and some basic work in agron-
omic 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 charac-
teristics) and delimit the zone within which this group is an important section of
the farm population. The task of the project team in the reconnaissance and the
later survey, is to identify the common factors or agro-socioeconomic character-
istics and then assess the relative importance of each to the generation of im-
proved technology. 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 in-
formation but to identify factors and problems important in generating techno!-
ogy. Although some preliminary cost information is obtained in the survey,
this is based on recall and is not sufficiently accurate to use in economic anal-
yses of farm trial data. For this and other reasons, several collaborators are
chose to initiate farm records immediately after the survey is completed. These
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 dis-
tances, populations, varieties, etc., are obtained in discussions on the frequent
visits made by ICTA personnel. Through these periodic visits, the farmers be-
come permanent contacts for the technicians, and are useful sounding boards
on which to test new ideas or to provide information on general problems which
in less personal situations may never be discussed.
4 The usual sub-regional team is comprised of 5 agronomists plus one person
from Socioeconomics. For the survey and its analysis, this team is augmented
by a group of specialists from Socioeconomics that works on a national level.
The survey information is analyzed by the sub-regional team and the na-
tional specialists who use it to plan farm trials in which existing varieties-tre
tested and agronomic practices and cropping systems are explored and to orient
plant breeders in their germpiasm 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 continue the process of identifying problems
Two different types of Farm Trials are used. The firs, which could be
termed 'Technical Farm Trials" 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 agronomic practices.
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
practical for the target farmers of the area, and that it is economical given
the farmers' choice criteria. To satisfy these evaluations, promising practices,
crop or livestock systems or materials usually will be subjected to "Agro-eco-
nomic Farm Trials". These are designed to provide economic and agronomic
information on a regional (rather than a site) basis; hence, there are many trials,
well distributed throughout the area but they are not necessarily replicated at
each location. Economic as well as agronomic records are maintained and both
economic and agronomic analyses are made. Estimates of risk and regional sta-
bility associated with each treatment or practice are calculated to aid in asses-
sing potential effect on farmers who may adopt the technology.
In the Farm Trials, the ICTA technicians evaluate the technology being
produced based on their understanding of the farmers' situation as obtained from
the survey, the farm records and continual close contact with target farmers. A
critical aspect of the Farmers' Tests is that the farmer is the prime evaluator,
because in the final analysis, the technician cannot substitute for the farmer.
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 technical
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 important
aspect of Farmers' Tests is that the farmer pays for all costs except technical
assistance. In other words, he is a full partner in the evaluation procedure.
Although ICTA does not have extension responsibilities (they are in an-
other agency) it is obvious that Farmers' Tests (and to some extent Farm Trials)
initiate the 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
appropriate for research purposes.
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 re-
jection of the technology by the farmers who conducted Farmers' Tests. If a
high proportion of the collaborators put the technology into practice over a large
part of their land on their own initiative, it can be considered as an acceptable
technology. When the farmers reject the practice, attempts are made to deter-
mine why, and then if it still looks promising, it will go back to one of the pre-
vious steps in the technology generating 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.
The farm records provide information which is used for longer run evalua-
tion on changes in practices and yields, and comprise a more representative
sample 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.
In an area in eastern Guatemala, the agro-socioeconomic survey (Reiche,
et. al., 1976) provided information indicating that the two controllable factors
(i.e., excluding limited rainfall and poor soils) most important in limiting pro-
duction of the traditional farmers on the steep hillsides were the availability
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
maize, beans and sorghum planted together at the same time in a number of
similar arrays. Through the use of twin or double rows of maize 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 sig-
nificantly by allowing each farmer to plant more land than he previously had
been able to with his traditional cropping system. This non-traditional technol-
ogy is possible because amount of land is not a limiting factor for most farmers
in the area.
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 maize, 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
5 Details on the use of double rows can be fouhd in: Hildebrand, 1976; Hilde-
brand, et. al., 1977; Hildebrand and Cardona, 1977; and French and Hilde-
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.
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 de-
fined (Duarte, et. al., 1977). One stratum cannot produce enough maize to
sustain the family for the year, a second 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 even though their cropping sys-
tem is basically the same, and a special technology was designed for each.
For the first stratum, and again, using the concept of double rows, the
population of maize 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 utiliza-
tion, such as not needing to prepare the extra land, labor costs increase only
30%. Maize production increased.45% and profit, after charging opportunity
cost for all labor, rose from $7 per hectare to $60 (Hildebrand, et. al., 1977).
More important, it would permit the average farmer in this group to achieve
self sufficiency in the production of maize.
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) 40% of
the land can be planted to wheat (the least risky alternative) and at the same
time the normal population of maize is planted on the same land using double
maize rows. This system,with a one meter bed of wheat in the 2 meter space
between each set of twin maize rows, presents some very useful labor efficien-
cies so labor use increases only approximately 30% over the traditional maize
system used in the area. Maize production dropped slightly (though it was not
statistically significant) but 1266 kg/ha of wheat was produced and profit in-
creased to $219 per hectare. This associated cropping system compares with
$124 per hectare if each of the crops had been seeded alone.
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 wilh more income
earning potential (and risk). Nearly 14,000 cabbages can be planted per
hectare without 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 broc-
coli and cauliflower for freezing as well as the incorporation of other 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 sur-
vey. Additional advances can, of course, be achieved, with the incorpora-
tion 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, it is necessary to differentiate between subsis-
tence and commercial crops even on the same farm and for the same farmers.
This is most easily seen with respect to crop varieties in the Highlands,
where maize 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 commercial crop than for the maize and beans. Evidence of this is avail-
able from an evaluation study made in the Western Highlands (Ruano, et. al.,
1976). Among the collaborators, 97% of the wheat was improved varieties
while only 31% of the maize was one of the recommended varieties even though
there is a high response from maize variety in the area (Schmoock, et. al., 1976).
It has also been established that on the South Coast where maize is primarily a
commercial crop sold at harvest, farmers readily accept hybrids, while in the
Highlands, where they have historically saved their own seed, open pollinated
varieties are necessary.
The availability of water in sufficient quantity and under safe conditions
6 An exception has been found in a recently surveyed area in Quezaltenango
in the Western Highlands.
to be able to use liquid pesticides is a limiting factor for many small farmers that
has often been overlooked. On the South Coast, where little liquid insecticide
had been used, we found a rapid acceptance of granulated insecticides that can
be applied easily with virtually no purchased equipment and w?'hcut the need for
water except for washing hands after use.
Another cultural factor is very important in maize technology in the High-
lands. Among the indigenous farmers, young maize plants are treated as a child
(Ruano, et. al., 1976), so they are almost never knowingly destroyed until they
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 a 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.
The social and economic goals and cultural constraints of small, tradi-
tional and subsistence farmers may be very different from those of commercial
farmers, yet they can be among the more important choice crteri% t!E -armers
use when judging alternative farming systems and technology. The Guate-
malan institute of Agricultural Science and Technology -ICTA- which is respon-
sible for the generation of technology for small, traditional farmers who are the
most important producers of basic grains in the country, has been developing a
methodology which includes the definition of the most important factors which
influence these farmers. Multi-disciplinary teams comprised of both social and
biological scientists work closely with the farmers in surveys, farm records, and
farm trial in attempts to develop technologies which meet the site specific cri-
teria of the farmers in each area. Then the farmers are asked to evaluate the
technology themselves as part of the overall evaluation process.
Perhaps the most important concept presented in this paper is that at least
one national institute has accepted that for small, traditional and subsistence
farmers, social, cultural, and economic factors can be as important as agro-
climatic factors in designing appropriate technology. Several examples are
presented in which land, labor, capital, water, seed and a religious belief all
have been key elements in determining the nature of a modified technology which
traditional farmers would accept.
Duarte Mo, Rolando, Peter E. Hildebrand y Sergio Ruano. 1977. Tecnologia y
estructura agro-socioeconomica del minifundio del Occidente de Chimal-
tenango. ICTA, Guatemala.
French, Edwin C. and Peter E. Hildebrand. 1977, Dynamic multiple cropping
systems for small farmers of El Salvador. Food and Resource Economics
Department and Vegetable Crops Department. University of Florida.
Gainesville, Florida (In press).
Hildebrand, Peter E. 1976. Multiple cropping systems are dollars and "sense"
agronomy. Chap. 18. In Multiple Cropping. American Society of Agron-
omy. Special Publication Number 27. Madison, Wisconsin.
Hildebrand, Peter E. 1977. Generating small farm technology: an integrated
multidisciplinary system. Invited paper, 12th West Indian Agricultural
Economics Conference. Caribbean Agro-Economic Society. Antigua,
Hildebrand, Peter E., Sergio Ruano, Teodoro Lopez, Esau Samayoa y Rolando
Duarte. 1977. Sistemas de cultivos para los agricultores tradicionales
del Occidente de Chimaltenango. ICTA, Guatemala.
Hildebrand, Peter E. y Daniel Cardona. 1977. Sistemas de cultivos de ladera
para pequefis y medianos agricultores, La Barranca, Jutiapa, 1976.
Reiche C., Carlos E., Peter E. Hildebrand, Sergio Ruano y Jaime T. Wyld.
1976. El pequeno agricultor y sus sistemas de cultivos en ladera: Jutia-
pa, Guatemala. ICTA, Guatemala.
Ruano, Sergio, Valerio Macz Pacay y Peter E. Hildebrand. 1976. Evaluacion
de la aceptacion de la tecnologia generada por el ICTA para el cultivo
de marz, en la Region I, 1975. ICTA, Guatemala.
Schmoock P., Werner J. 1976. Informe Anual 1975-76 del Equipo de Produc-
cion A, Prueba de Tecnologia. ICTA, Guatemala.