FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION:
STATUS AND POTENTIAL IN LOW-RESOURCE AGRICULTURE
Report submitted to the Office of Technology
Assessment, Congress of the United States
December 4, 1986
Farming Systems Support Project
International Programs Office of Agriculture and
Institute of Food and Office of Multisectoral Development
Agricultural Sciences Bureau for Science and Technology
University of Florida Agency for International Development
Gainesville, Florida 32611 Washington, D.C. 20523
Susan Poats, Daniel Gait,
Chris Andrew, Lisette Walecka,
and Kenneth McDermott
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION:
STATUS AND POTENTIAL IN LOW-RESOURCE AGRICULTURE
Report submitted to the Office of Technology
Assessment, Congress of the United States
December 4, 1986
Susan Poats, Daniel Galt(l), Chris Andrew, Lisette Walecka,
Peter Hildebrand and Kenneth McDermott
Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP/USAID/University of Florida)
DRAFT. This document is the property of the Office of Technology
Assessment. It may not be cited or copied without OTA permission
until it is released.
1 Formerly with the FSSP and currently with Winrock International, Dept. of
Agriculture, Kathmandu, Nepal.
The authors wish to express their appreciation to Lana Bayles, Jean Gearing,
Sharon Leslie, Roberta Cohen, Judy Meline, Margarita Rodriguez, Daniel
Reboussin and Kenna Hughey for their assistance in the preparation of this
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION: FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION AND
THE CONVENTIONAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION SYSTEM 1
A. Status of African Agriculture and Need for the FSR/E Approach 1
B. Conventional Agricultural Research and Development of the FSR/E
C. Modifying the Conventional Strategy: Comparing Alternative Models 8
II. EVALUATION OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION (FSR/E) 11
A. Current Philosophical, Financial and Institutional Status of FSR/E 11
B. Evaluating FSR/E Projects 25
C. Future Directions for FSR/E 29
III. POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS 34
A. Relationship Between FSR/E and Single-Commodity Research Programs 34
B. Most Productive Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches 37
C. Suggested Policies to Enhance the Mix of FSR/E and Conventional
D. An Economic Evaluation of FSR/E: Qualitative and Quantitative
Comparison of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches 40
E. Institutional Levels Dealing With FSR/E: Potential for
1. Description of the FSR/E Stages 54
2. Case Study: United States Land-Grant System 58
3. A Clarification of Terminology 61
4. Definitions 67
5. Extension in Farming Systems Research 71
6. Communication Between Research and Extension in the Gambia 72
7. The French Recherche-Developpement Approach 73
8. FSR/E and IDRC, Canada 76
9. Potentials and Limitations of FSR/E for Promoting OTA's
Goals of Low-Resource Agricultural Development 79
10. Country Case Study: ICTA in Guatemala 84
11. Inclusion of Inter- and Intrahousehold Issues, Gender Issues and
Non-Farm Income-Generating Activities in FSR/E 88
12. Specific Criteria Project Log Frame and Internal Self-Evaluation 92
13. Case Study: Indonesia Tropsoils Project 93
14. Case Study: Panama 96
15. Brief Supplemental Case Studies From Africa 97
I. INTRODUCTION: FSR/E AND CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
A. Status of African Agriculture and Need for the FSR/E Approach
Recent evaluations of African agricultural research and development have
revealed two .important problems. First, yields of food crops per hectare have
stagnated or declined on a per capital basis in most Sub-Saharan countries.
Second, research has produced few, if any, results that can be applied by low
resource farmers especially where labor is scarce at critical times (World
Bank, 1981; USDA,.1981; Fresco and Poats, 1986). Breakthroughs in production
have not been made in major African food crops such as maize, sorghum, millet
and roots and tubers. Current agricultural innovations are poorly adapted to
Sub-Saharan rainfed shifting and fallow agricultural systems.
Solving these problems requires reorientation of two aspects of conven-
tional agricultural research. First, constraints facing Africa's low resource
agriculturalists must be identified so as to formulate more relevant research
solutions. Second, adaptive research procedures must be used to test and
modify innovative solutions to meet specific needs of these farmers and their
highly varied farming systems. Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E)
provides an approach which will allow research'and extension to develop more
appropriate technological alternatives to solve the problems of low resource
agriculturalists in Africa.
FSR/E can contribute toward the success of agricultural research and
extension (R/E) programs in at least three ways. First, FSR/E helps determine
research priorities among low-resource farmers which can help allocate scarce
research funds to problems of greatest importance. Second, it enhances appro-
priate technology development through on-farm testing which increases the
potential for success in extending innovative technologies to farmers. Third,
it helps overcome existing biases of gender, age, ethnicity, and class by
working toward holism in its diagnosis, design, experimentation, and dissemi-
nation stages (Fresco and Poats, 1986).
FSR/E is an approach to and not a substitute for conventional agricul-
tural research and extension. It embodies conceptual and methodological tools
to make existing R/E systems more efficient, not to replace them. FSR/E im-
proves efficiency and effectiveness because researchers and extensionists no
longer work entirely with isolated crop and livestock enterprises. Instead,
work is conducted by interdisciplinary teams and'the farm is viewed as a
holistic system with interconnected subsystems. FSR/E encourages the research
team to consider carefully the potential impact of a new technology on the
whole farming system because a positive benefit to one subsystem may have a
negative impact on linked subsystems and ultimately on the whole farming
system. The systems perspective minimizes the potential cost of producing and
implementing technologies which provide narrow short term solutions yet cause
other more difficult problems. FSR/E is especially well-suited for working
with low-resource agriculturalists because it operates within existing agri-
cultural systems, works with farmers as cooperators, builds upon existing
opportunities in designing solutions to problems, tests potential solutions
against existing constraints and risks, and considers farmer adoption of
technology as criteria for success.
A general consensus now exists on the basic assumptions, methodologies and
objectives embodied in FSR/E (Fresco and Poats 1986; Norman and Collinson,
1985). The objective of FSR/E is to improve the well-being of farm families
and increase their productivity by facilitating more efficient and effective
generation of technology appropriate to farmer ieeds. Most practitioners
agree that the approach progressively associates farms and farmers within
appropriate domains and has four distinct stages in technology development.
1) Diagnosis of needs, problems, constraints, and potential flexibilities
in the farming system;
2) Design of strategies to solve identified priority problems, ex-ante
analysis of proposed solutions, and design (and redesign) of trials to
test proposed solutions or better define farmer problems;
3) Experimentation, monitoring, modification, and verification of proposed
Solutions at farm level under local farmer conditions; supportive on-
station research; and evaluation of farmer adoptability; and
4) Dissemination of farmer-approved results to relevant groups of farmers.
Each stage in the FSR/E process may be identified by slightly different
names, depending on the country in which it is used. Some FSR/E stages may be
subdivided and each stage may vary in length depending upon the results of the
previous stage. They may also occur cyclically or simultaneously, depending
on the nature of the research program; in most cases they are continuous acti-
vities (Galt, 1985b). See Appendix 1 for details on the activities associated
with each stage.
B. Conventional Agricultural Research and Development of the FSR/E Approach
Research can be defined as the careful and diligent search for and inter-
pretation of new knowledge through hypothesis testing. Agricultural research
is the application of this search to the practical problems of producing,
processing, storing and delivery of food to consumers. Before the 20th
century, growth in agricultural production occurred almost entirely from in-
creases in area cultivated. During this century, agriculture has been
changing from "a resource-based sector to a science-based industry" (Ruttan,
1982). Growth in agricultural production is "increasingly based on new
mechanical, chemical and biological technologies" and dependent upon industry
and technology-producing institutions to package this technology in "new and
more productive inputs (seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides,
machines, and equipment)" (Ruttan, 1982). Agricultural research and extension
have been both responsible for much of this change to a technology-based
agricultural system as well as a result of the change.
Agricultural research and extension in its infancy was characterized by
generalists, often farmers themselves, who did research on crops or livestock
and who communicated their results directly to their neighbors. Early agri-
cultural colleges promoted a generalist approach. As agricultural universi-
ties developed and agricultural research institutes were created, a separation
occurred between research on a given topic and communication of the results.
Research and Extension became separate functions. In some places (e.g.,
France), research was done entirely in institutes and teaching was relegated
to universities. Extension was part of separate development oriented enti-
ties, later the locus for applied research, separate from the "pure" research
of the institutes.
In the United States, agricultural research remained within universities,
formalized by the land-grant concept which mandated three functions: teach-
ing, research and extension. Though this mandate is still in effect, disci-
plinary separation and research specialization required to produce the "new
technology" has caused an "institutional drift" away from the integrated per-
spective intended by the original land-grant concept (See Appendix 2 for fur-
ther details). Researchers concentrated their efforts through departments
based on disciplinary divisions, and developed specific commodity or crop
research thrusts. The goal was raising production and the solution was sought
mainly in varietal manipulation. At the same time, extension narrowed its
focus to communication and lost its experimental role. Extension in the
United States divided along gender lines; men were assumed to be producers
with county agents (mostly men) assigned to serve their needs, while women
were assumed to be homemakers and home economists were to assist them.
The creation of the International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs),
beginning with IRRI in 1960 and CIMMYT in 1966, followed some of these same
premises and trends. Established to give greater impetus to research on key
world crops, the IARCs provided good research conditions in tropical regions
so researchers could achieve "breakthroughs" in crop production for the
developing countries. The justification was the perceived food crisis and the
need to create self-sufficiency in developing countries with large populations
Subsequent breakthroughs, via high yielding varietal tech-packs, became
known as the "Green Revolution" and lead to greatly increased food production,
primarily wheat and rice. Results with other food crops were less specta-
cular. Nonetheless, the success of the Green Revolution caused universities
to become even more specialized in the training of new scientists to meet the
demands for greater commodity production. Further specialization increased
the disciplinary division among agricultural researchers, and lead to research
problem identification and prioritization driven by discipline-based needs
(publication in referred journals) rather than farming priorities. Research-
ers, no longer drawn largely from the farming community, had little first hand
experience to use in making research decisions. Farmer input existed in the
form of powerful lobbies of wealthy farmers whose farms matched conditions on
This specialized, discipline-based, commodity driven style dominates what
is called conventional agricultural research and extension. Its research
agenda is derived from previous published research experience and it occurs
largely within the laboratory and the experimental station where non-experi-
mental variables can be better controlled. For some farmers this research
provides food productivity advances relative to labor and land. The current
abundance of food in developed countries is largely due to these miracle
technologies and farmers' ingenuity in applying them successfully.
Between 1968 and 1978, researchers from systems ecology, social science
and agricultural economics simultaneously began to evaluate the new techno-
logies and take a second look at the results of the Green Revolution. They
concluded that many low-resource farmers (then called "small farmers") had not
benefited from the new technology. Rather than blaming farmers for their
non-adoption, some field scientists from the IARCs and national programs began
to question the appropriateness of the technology itself. They found that the
new technology could not stand alone but depended upon various inputs and
infrastructural conditions, both of which are still disproportionately avail-
able to resource-rich farmers (Chambers and Jiggins, 1985). Without inputs
and infrastructure and under low-resource farmer conditions, the technology
performed the same as poorer than the farmer's own traditional technology.
This recognition lead to explorations of methods to produce technology
more appropriate to the needs of low resource farmers. Depending upon the
researchers' backgrounds, the institutional sources for their work, their
ecological environments, and the farming systems they worked within, they put
together different methods for generating technology more appropriate to
low-resource conditions. Isolation of these independent efforts meant that
there were many new brands of research being developed, each with its own
leader and following. Actually, these approaches were similar responses to
the same problem.
Beginning in 1976, researchers started to come together to exchange ideas.
Because of personal vested interests and spontaneously differing terminology,
less commonality surfaced than disagreement on definitions. Acronyms
flourished and changed as rapidly as conferences were held. Information
exchange was very informal, with photocopy machines replacing journals as the
medium of communication. Much of the oral and written debate was never
published. What was beginning to be called "Farming Systems" or "Farming
Systems Research" lived a life of its own, becoming more and more separated
from the research and extension establishments. Evidence that this separate
life was sufficiently important came in 1977 when Dillon et al., (1978) were
asked by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the CGIAR to review FSR in
four IARCs. This study, known as the FSR Stripe Review, was the first to
examine FSR on an international basis.
As the FSR debate continued, many researchers, especially biological
scientists, were left out of the discussion. They viewed FSR as a "sqft"
science, dominated by social scientists. On-farm research was messy and
uncontrollable and certainly not publishable, therefore not worth doing.
Other researchers viewed FSR as a new name for what extension should be doing.
Many extension workers did not see FSR as offering any improvement over what
they were doing. Opposition arose from farm management people who saw their
methods being used under a new name. For others, FSR became a "catch-all"
term for research that did not fit a normal research and extension framework
In 1980, FSR efforts began to converge. More exchanges took place among
FSR proponents and similarities and differences became clearer. FSR field
workers began to publish in legitimate journals or high status publications.
Kansas State University's annual FSR symposium, started in 1981, became an
international forum for the presentation of theoretical and practical FSR
results. National researchers from developing countries started to use FSR
from their own perspectives, and funds were generated to enable them to attend
international conferences. CIMMYT's Economics Program pioneered FSR work in
East Africa and CIMMYT training documents began to define the FSR approach as
more nationals were trained to conduct their own on-farm research.
USAID's Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP/University of Florida),
created in 1982, began networking the FSR community. It created a newsletter,
network paper series and annotated bibliographies in three languages to
stimulate exchange across regional barriers and give field practitioners
access to the wealth of formal and fugitive FSR/E literature. FSSP added the
"/E" to the FSR acronym calling explicitly for the need to link researchers
and extension workers with farmers in the process of developing appropriate
agricultural technology. FSSP collected and organized methodological tools to
formulate training materials for systematic teaching of the FSR/E approach to
new practitioners. Especially important was the exchange of views between
anglophone and francophone practitioners, either through multi-lingual facili-
tators, simultaneous translation of dialogs at conferences, or the growing
insistence on translations of key documents. Fresco's (1984) analysis of the
two traditions was a landmark piece which began an important process of under-
standing and reconciliation between these historically separate perspectives
(see Appendix 7).
By the end of 1984, methodological consensus was emerging among FSR/E
practitioners. Debates shifted from terminology and definitions to thoughtful
discussions of content, results,, implementation problems, evaluation criteria,
farmer participation and adoption, and institutionalization. Practitioners
viewed FSR/E as an approach for agricultural research and extension differing
from yet complementing the conventional strategy, enhancing work with farmers
ignored by the technification of agricultural research. A profusion of FSR/E
acronyms still exists but practitioners today are more tolerant of differences
and actively learning from the experiences of others. Appendix 3 provides a
discussion of the different terminology in use by practitioners who employ a
systems perspective in agricultural research, and Appendix 4 lists the
definitions. of acronyms found in the farming systems literature.
When viewed with a historical perspective, FSR/E is both old and new. It
is old because many of its individual concepts, principles and methods have
been used for over a generation in a variety of locations. Yet it is new
because of the way these components are combined to provide a systematic
approach to agricultural problem-solving. This historical view also shows
that the conventional agricultural research and extension strategy, which is
commodity, component and discipline driven, has not produced results that have
greatly benefitted low resource farmers. The strategy assumes the availa-
bility of a suitable resource base in terms of land, climate, infrastructure;
in essence, it is directed to non-marginal lands (Plucknett et al., 1986) and
takes commodity choice for production as predetermined. It is clear that
low-resource farmers farming marginal lands under low input, risk-averse
systems, to produce a wide variety of subsistence crops, could be easily
overlooked and ignored by conventional strategy.
The Green Revolution has reached perhaps 10% of the Third World's farming
population, affecting yields positively on approximately 30% of their
hectarage. Gains have been made mainly in wheat and rice and, to a much
lesser degree, maize. However, not only has about 70% of the Third World's
crops been by-passed by the complete technological package approach, but, more
importantly, approximately 90% of the farmers have not benefitted from any of
this technology. Logic dictates that FSR/E will have to complement conven-
tional agricultural research to help fill this technological void. Some
observers and donors have decided (based on little solid evidence) that FSR/E
is more expensive than the conventional strategy. However, such an approach
to development cannot be inexpensive: the numbers of farmers yet to be
reached is of a staggering magnitude. Reaching them will require the combined
perspectives and resources of both strategies. This means modifying the
conventional strategy; a paradigm shift to accommodate a farming systems
perspective, and in particular, the FSR/E approach.
C. Modifying the Conventional Strategy: Comparing Alternative Models
It is easier to demonstrate the modifications needed to improve the con-
ventional agricultural research and extension strategy with several diagrams.
In Figure 1 (1), the conventional strategy is depicted in a series of blocks.
Research draws upon the world stock of knowledge and passes its results to
Extension which in turn makes recommendations to Farmers. The. model shows the
separation of research from extension tasks, and the distance of farmers from
researchers. Though a feedback loop is shown between research and the world
stock of knowledge, the conventional strategy rarely acknowledges contribu-
tions from extensionists and farmers.
In (2), the concept of the total Technology Innovation Process (TIP) is
introduced into the conventional strategy. Drawing from industrial research,
a distinction is made between science and technology, one that agricultural
workers have rarely made. Here the process is composed of a series of func-
tions that are not actor-defined (e.g. Research = researchers, Extension =
extension workers). Functions can be conducted by several actors working
interdisciplinarily. On the far right of the process, dissemination is
separated from technology adoption. The functional criteria, for completion of
the process is not only the mechanics of dissemination but determining whether
Sof KnowledgeI Research i Extension Farmers
I I ______ "9 I___r---
of Knowledge Science Technology Development Technology Dissemination Technology Adoption
Conventional Agricultural Research and Extension Compared to Other
Models of Technology Development.
O World Stock
W of Science Technology Technology TE
L Knowledge Generation Testing Ac
the technology is adopted and used by farmers.
In (3), the technology development function is conditioned by the farming
systems perspective and broken into the basic stages of the FSR/E process.
Technology development requires a substantially different methodology than
scientific research. FSR/E provides this methodology and conditions the
center section of the TIP. There, it is not feasible to distinguish "re-
search" and "extension" as they are involved in each function. The TIP model
is a construct of the total process. It places the FSR/E concept within the
total technology innovation process, but does not demonstrate the iterative
dynamics of FSR/E, which are seen more clearly in the diagrams and discussion
in Appendices 1, 3 and 4.
Other models have also been proposed to improve the conventional strategy.
In particular, Biotechnology and the Training and Visit System or T&V (Benor
and Harrison, 1977) are often discussed in donor circles as funding alter-
natives to improve agricultural research and extension. However, as shown in
(4), these models propose refinements or improvements for specific segments
but do not imply changes in the whole process. Biotechnology represents a new
tool to use in the improvement of single commodities, either crop or animal.
Its domain is within science at present, though there is great potential for
its use in developing new technology for farmer use. However, since it will
rely heavily on private sector support for technology development, there is
some question whether the benefits will be accessible, much less appropriate,
for low resource farmers since they do not represent a clientele with large
technology buying power. Others such as Galt (personal communication, 1986)
believe that successful biotechnology will depend on an increase in applica-
tion of the FSR/E approach. This can be accomplished most efficiently by
passing laboratory-based research results (including biotechnology innova-
tions) as quickly as possible to the experiment station, and station-based
research results to samples of farmers which are representative of some
larger, but generally homogeneous, group of farmers. The only approach which
currently addresses the latter link is FSR/E.
T&V is not a research model and is therefore not compatible as an alterna-
tive to other research models. It does offer refinement in the tools of
information dissemination and a management system for information delivery,
but it is not truely comparable to FSR/E since it lacks any research or
technology-generating focus at all. Without appropriate technology to trans-
mit, T&V does not have a base from which to operate. World Bank recognition
of this is evidenced by their current efforts to initiate farming systems
"style" projects to complement T&V projects already in place.
Some people have also compared FSR/E with models such as cropping systems
research (which focuses only on the crops in the farming system) or mixed
S farming research (which draws practitioners' attention to the integration of
crop and livestock problems and solutions). The problem with these models, ds
described in Appendices 3 and 4, is that they are too limited in scope or do
not explicitly consider extensionist involvement and the dissemination-
adoption functions. They are better viewed historically as parts of the
building of what is now FSR/E. In this context, Appendix 3 (Figure 1) places
these earlier models within the larger framework of FSR/E because they operate
in an iterative fashion to build improvements upon existing farming systems.
Diagram (4) in Figure 1 shows FSR, Mixed Cropping and Cropping Systems as
operating in only the first three functions of Technology Development, while
FSE/E encompasses all three and thereby conditions the entire process.
Table 1 compares the models discussed above with the conventional strategy
in terms of their purpose, clients, how research priorities are established,
requirements for operation, and the actors involved. This comparison makes it
obvious that individual models should not be selected one over the other, but
that all should be considered essential elements to improve the overall
strategy for good agricultural research and extension.
FSR/E is often viewed as revolutionary when compared with the traditional
agricultural research and extension strategy. However, it is better under-
stood as an evolutionary development. In keeping with its mandate to make
research and extension more efficient and effective, the future goal for FSR/E
is to become a normal, necessary part of good agricultural research and
extension. Active involvement of farmers male and female as colleagues
and partners in the technology development process, and an explicit effort to
learn from farmers, will ensure success achievement of this goal.
Comparing Alternative Models with the Conventional Agricultural Research and Extension Strategy
Strategy Purpose Client(s) uow are research priorities established? Requirement for Operatio n Actors Involve
Canventimnal To develop knowledge needed to l.lheoretically all farmers l.By the discipline and its publications l.Resarch institution with Researchers ar
Strategy improve agricultural productivity but in practice has laboratories and libraries Extensicnists
stability and quality. benefitted mainly resource 2.Based on outcome of previous laboratory 2.Eperiment stations
rich farmers. or statin-based research. 3.Liaited sites for multi-
2.Tendency to be research 3.By state or federal authorities locational testing
or peer group oriented. primed either by lobies, changes in
marketing, or catastrophic problems
(corn blight, citrus canker, medfly).
T I P Tb draw frmc knowledge in order to All Farmers By assessing technology needs and 1.Research institutions. Researchers an
develop technology that farmers problems of farmers. 2.Eperiment stations Extensicmists
can use. 3.Etensimn service
Biotechnology T incorporate genetically better 1.Ultimately all farmers, but l.By scientists engaged in Biotedhnology
traits into existing crops or given trend towards private, research. l.igh tech laboratories Researchers
livestock through use of "new ca~mercial investments in this 2.By companies and institutes funding 2.Extensive international
science', including recanbinant MA research, the Clients will need research. gem plasa banks
cell fusion and micro-injectin. large resources to purchase the
resultant products or be heavily
2.Intermediate client is clearly
T ( V To better extend the results of Developed to serve low-resource Is not research. 1.kAaptd and proven tech- extensinists
research or Tecthology generation farmers %ho have been ignored by rnlogy to deliver
converticnal extension, but can be 2.obility to get to farmers
applied to all farmers. In practice, 3.xtension centers
some indication of bias to male
higher-resource farmers with better
I.To improve research extension -
2.TO condition the TIP to better
deal with the farming system,
especially low-resource famning
by selecting problems from a
farming system and testing
innovations within the system
against the system's tn criteria.
Developed to serve law-resource
farmers in developing countries
uho were not benefitting from
results of conventional strategy
but can be used with any farmer
Determined from within the
fanning system based on diag-
nostic methods including
interdisciplinary informal and
formal surveys, and on-farm
seI.earcII misIuuMns an
2. tension centers
4.Field logistical sq~port
for diagnostic and on-farm
II. EVALUATION OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION (FSR/E)
A. Current Philosophical, Financial and Institutional Status of FSR/E
1. WORLD BANK.
The World Bank has been utilizing the Training and Visit (T&V) extension
system for a decade as a mechanism for more efficient delivery of technolo-
gical innovations to the poor farmers of the third world (Benor and Harrison,
1977). So far, the results have been disappointing because adapted technology
to fuel the T & V system is not available in most countries. For this reason,
in 1983 the Bank commissioned an exhaustive study to evaluate the farming
systems approach (Simmonds, 1985), and has initiated or planned farming
systems projects in Senegal, Ethiopia, Zambia and Ivory Coast. A prevailing
topic at a conference including West African research, extension and educa-
tional institutions who met in Ivory Coast under Bank sponsorship in February
1985, was complementary elements of FSR/E and the T&V approach. The Bank and
other donors were challenged by the representatives to consider provision for
more emphasis on design of on-farm research programs identified with sets of
farmers with like conditions to enhance extension. Of major importance to the
group assembled was concern for developing technology suited to women farmers,
a significant force in food production in the region.
While a quantitative assessment of Bank emphasis on the farming systems
approach in funded projects is not possible, the approach is influencing agri-
cultural projects both directly and indirectly through application of FSR/E
methodologies with a greater sensitivity to the technology development need
for major' client groups. The question of real or perceived strengths and
weaknesses of FSR/E by Bank project managers and recipients deserves further
application and evaluation. Bank investments in training for FSR/E applica-
tions generally have not been emphasized so effective utilization of the
methodologies often awaits trained human resources. Recognition that the T&V
approach is dependent upon an effective technology development process has
stimulated Bank interest in FSR/E.
Ex-ante evaluation of Bank investment in research through cost-benefit
analysis is not considered effective. A recent Bank document (World Bank
1986) indicated that "no attempt has been made to quantify the economic rate
of return ex ante, due to :
* inherent uncertainties regarding the timing and value of research findings,
and the timing and extent of adoption of research findings by farmers;
* difficulties in separating potential benefits of research and complementary
investments, such as input supply, extension and training; and
* problems in assessing the value of negative research results, which add to
the pool of knowledge and frequently benefit subsequent research efforts.
The same paper suggests that evaluation is possible for expected qualita-
tive benefits such as improved technical recommendations for targeted groups
of farmers, better selection of improved varieties adapted to both agroecolo-
gical conditions and farmer management practices, and better conservation and
utilization of national resources for sustained agricultural development.
USAID was one of the first donors to invest significantly in FSR/E pro-
jects. In 1972, AID, with The Rockefeller Foundation, supported the initial
studies that resulted in the formation of ICTA, the Guatemalan Institute of
Agricultural Science and Technology (see ICTA case study in Appendix 10).
This institution offers an excellent farming systems model to the world.
Several other projects were funded by AID in the late 1970's through which the
FSR/E methodology was further developed and refined (e.g. in Indonesia,
Honduras, the Eastern Caribbean and Lesotho during the period 1978-1980).
In December, 1980, USAID convened a group of FSR/E practitioners to dis-
cuss implementation of FSR/E projects and their future. The general consensus
was that FSR/E, as an approach, was going to expand significantly in the
future and, furthermore, that USAID was committed to such an expansion. In
1985, a worldwide inventory of farming systems projects (FSSP Newsletter,
1985) identified 256 different projects including 95 in Africa. USAID sup-
ports or has supported FSR/E projects, or projects with FSR/E components, in
India, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Western
Samoa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, similar USAID-supported projects are in Bot-
swana, Burundi, Cameroon, The Gambia, Lesotho, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali,
Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tanza-
nia, Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Latin America, similar USAID-supported
projects are in Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean (CARDI),
Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Paraguay.
Several of the USAID-funded Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSP)
have FSR/E components: Bean/Cowpea CRSP Ecuador, Guatemala, Tanzania and
Malawi; Soils Management CRSP Indonesia; Sorghum/Millet CRSP Mexico,
Honduras and Sudan; Small Ruminants CRSP Kenya and Peru. Most of these
efforts would not be classed as full FSR/E projects, but they utilize many of
the elements that are common to FSR/E programs (see also CRSPs in Section III,
A. Linkages Between Commodity Research and FSR/E).
Evaluation of USAID-funded FSR/E projects on a quantitative basis is as
difficult as it is for World Bank. It was not possible to make a quantitative
evaluation for this paper. In USAID's experience it might be noted that
impediments to precise benefit evaluations are inadequate cost data and defi-
nition of specific projects "designated" as FSR/E projects, lack of measures
of returns to research, heavy expatriate involvments so that costs are not
reflective of the project and complications associated with attributing bene-
fits, or lack there of, to causal factors. If we assume that an average FSR/E
project for USAID is on the order of $10 million and five years in scope,
careful scrutiny might show that one dollar in three does not leave the U.S.,
another one goes directly to expatriate travel, maintenance and salaries, and
the remaining dollar may go to items and personnel to support the FSR/E pro-
ject directly in the field. However, these investments may contribute to
training in the U.S. where the return may be 10 years away and attrition of
trained resources is common. This should not mitigate against technical
assistance, but should explain why the cost component of the total effort is
not a realistic base for evaluating FSR/E even if benefits were quantifiable.
During 1982 and 1983, several of AID's early FSR/E projects were evaluated
(Central America: Hobgood et al., 1980; Guatemala: McDermott and Bathrick,
1982; Korea: Steinberg et al., 1982; Nepal: Simmons et al., 1982; Eastern
Caribbean: Everson et al., 1982; Lesotho: USAID 1983a; Malawi: USAID 1983b).
Four consistent problems appeared:
most of these projects were poorly conceived and designed,
* very few projects were staffed by experienced FSR/E practitioners,
* U.S. bilateral contractors were seldom able to field the originally-proposed
team members, and
* seldom did expatriate researchers in the field interact and work together
with host country counterparts as a multidisciplinary team.
In partial response to the above problems, USAID established in October
1982 a centrally-funded project, located in the Bureau of Science and Techno-
logy, to backstop and support USAID projects on a world-wide basis. The
University of Florida was chosen to lead this project, known as the Farming
Systems Support Project (FSSP). The project was implemented through the
combined resources of 21 U.S. Universities and four private consulting firms.
As a cooperative agreement, the FSSP, among other tasks, was to assist bilat-
eral contractors and USAID Missions to locate and train technical assistance
teams for future FSR/E projects, as well as assist in the replacement staffing
of on-going projects.
During the past four years, expected improvements in USAID-funded FSR/E
projects have been slower than anticipated and the S&T Bureau is much less
interested in investing in future FSR/E support. Funds are currently dedi-
cated to biotechnology research or more traditional commodity research (USAID,
S&T 1986). FSSP was developed in the Development Support Bureau, under an
administration which mandated that the major purpose of central bureaus was to
support field operations. With the change in administration, the Development
Support Bureau became the Science and Technology Bureau and emphasis changed
from support to science and technology. The S&T orientation is to get more
science and technology into country programs. The program is guided more by
central bureau criteria than by field program criteria.
In contrast to the de-emphasis promoted by the S&T Bureau, the Africa
Bureau through its country missions continues to support and plan projects
incorporating the FSR/E approach. This comes largely as a result of national
programs and their projects which are showing a steadily growing realization
of the use and benefits of the FSR/E approach. As FSR/E has moved away from
being a "project" itself, to being understood as an essential element within
the agricultural research and extension process, practitioner demand for FSR/E
support has grown. This demand for support is channeled to donors, like USAID
Africa Bureau where it is recognized that FSR/E provides an evolving mechanism
to. strengthen national research and extension efforts. The Africa Bureau has
become more rigorous in designing and reviewing FSR/E projects because of
problems encountered in earlier FSR/E projects and because of budgetary
constraints. Examples of new projects (1985-86) incorporating the FSR/E
approach are in The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Zaire and Malawi.
It is not known if the FSSP will be renewed after September 1987. How-
ever, all of the FSSP support entities and many USAID Missions, are convinced
of the validity of, and necessity for,'some type of FSR/E approach (FSSP On-
Networking, 1986; Mission cables in response to evaluation of FSSP, June,
1985). The University of Florida and the FSSP support entities are interested
in continuing the project, based on direct support to missions, consisting
mainly of training and networking.
Criticism within USAID directed at FSR/E varies in substance and rele-
vance. Many of those who promoted the greatest expectations were not practi-
tioners and became impatient. FSR/E methodology is not yet standard and many
of the FSR/E workers are still learning it. Few FSR/E programs are "fully in
place" and operating on a scale that can have a significant impact on the
agricultural development. Criticism also stems from conventional researchers
because some early proponents rationalized the need for FSR/E in terms of
conventional research failures rather than potential for complementarity.
Another source of criticism arises when FSR/E projects are designed to stand
alone without adequate attention to linking with sources of technical support.
Finally, one source of criticism, based on the obvious fact that field re-
search will be more costly than on-station research, ignores the product side
of the equation, and ignores the probability that over time significant
operational efficiencies will be achieved. (See IDRC in Appendix 8 for a
different donor perspective on supporting FSR/E.)
3. International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs)
The growing recognition of the value of the FSR/E approach was also
discussed in a conference attended by representatives to the IARCs Workshop on
Farming Systems Research:
"A farming systems approach is now being adopted and incorporated
by many research systems. This is reflected in increased contact
between scientists and farmers, a greater sensitivity of scientist
to the complexities of small farmer systems and changes in atti-
tudes of scientist toward addressing farmer problems. Results of
on-farm research have been particularly valuable in feeding back
information to on-station research and changing priorities accor-
dingly. At the same time, as the farming systems approach matures
in many programs, there is growing evidence of acceptance of tech-
nologies being generated." (Andrew, unpublished notes from ICRISAT
Workshop, February, 1986).
Concensus is emerging within the IARC community about research with a
farming systems perspective (FSP). Direct attention is not given to the
research/extension linkage but recognition of the important role of national
institutions in extension is quite common. At the recent meeting of Interna-
tional Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs) representatives at ICRISAT in
February of 1986 (FSSP, 1986a) it was agreed that the essential underlying
concept of research with a farming systems perspective is that it is an
approach to agricultural research, ultimately serving extension, which
embodies the following concepts:
* Problem-solving research which explicitly recognizes farmer as the primary
client of agricultural research systems.
* Research which recognized interactions between different sub-systems in the
farming system and which may often require a multi-commodity approach.
* Research with an inter-disciplinary approach that requires close collabora-
tion among technical (physical and biological) and social scientists.
The financial status of the IARCs relative to other agricultural research
groups has been good. Investments in FSR vary by center and region for each
center but have increased over time in the aggregate and as a complement with-
in both commodity and constraint oriented programs. Currently FSR accounts
for up to 10% of the budgets of various IARCs, or a total of $10-15 million
per year for the CGIAR centers as a whole (Anderson and Dillon, 1985). Forty
percent of IITA's budget is related to FSR activities (Hildebrand, personal
communication, 1986). An evaluation of the IARC network has been completed
and results will be forthcoming shortly which should provide better informa-
tion on the returns to the investment in FSR by the IARCs. However, an evalu-
ation of one IARC/host country FSR activity demonstrated a rate of return to
investment of 188 percent (see Appendix 14, Case Study: Panama).
Specific activities of the IARCs in Africa which carry a farming systems
perspective are described elsewhere (Norman and Collinson, 1985; Fresco and
Poats, 1986; Anderson and Dillon, 1985; Simmonds 1985; Sands, 1985; Rhoades
and Potts, 1985). Common methodological threads do exist among the IARCs
active in Africa. All centers identify the same or almost the same procedural
stages, but implementation differs. Little consensus exists on the appropri-
ate methods of diagnosis and each promotes differently the use of informal and
formal diagnostic tools. Most IARC activity has "a pre-determined focus" on a
.specific crop or commodity (see examples below in A.5. and Appendix 3).
Though not a major initial problem, this poses a challenge to national agri-
cultural research and extension systems if each commodity has a different IARC
backstop or collaborator with a different set of jargon and specific methods
to be followed. Institutionalization of FSR/E within any national systems re-
quires an agreement on FSR/E among the different commodity programs and a
national approach shaped to fit national needs. Better IARC collaboration,
such as the Inter-Center Consultation (CIMMYT, 1984) will help this process.
a) Domestic Programs. The philosophy of those U.S. universities which
have begun domestic, state-level FSR/E approaches, has been to once again make
agricultural research responsive to their limited-resource farming clientele
(see Land-Grant Case Study, Appendix 2). With few exceptions, these approach-
es can be characterized as being incremental in nature. The known exception
is at Sam Houston University (Texas), where a "model farm" approach is used.
This is similar to IITA efforts (See Section II,5,a.;Appendix 3, Figure 1).
Since 1980 when the University of Florida began the first U.S.-based FSR/E
project in northern Florida with USDA funding, nine other universities have
followed this lead. There are now university programs located at Alabama A &
M, Colorado State, Cornell, Fort Valley (Georgia), Hawaii, Minnesota, North
Carolina State, Southern Illinois and Virginia Polytechnic and State Univer-
sity. Courses in FSR/E methods were first given at the University of Florida
and Cornell University (ca. 1980). From this beginning, at least eight addi-
tional U.S. universities offer FSR/E courses, or courses. incorporating the
FSR/E approach, including Arizona, California (at Davis), Colorado State,
Hawaii, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Virginia Poly-
technic Institute and State University. In addition, the University of
Florida how offers a minor in farming systems to both M.S. and Ph.D. level
students and awards four assistantships annually for specific FSR/E study.
The philosophical and financial commitment of these institutions is
substantial. It is never easy to introduce a change into a system (in this
case, that of the land-grant) which is more than 100 years old. However, the
fact that so many major U.S. universities have either undertaken the effort of
introducing FSR/E at their respective state levels, or have altered curricula
to include teaching and training students in the methods of FSR/E, qualitat-
ively proves their commitment. Finally, some of the USAID strengthening
grant monies has gone into supporting many of these activities.
b) Programs In Other Countries. With similar needs to make research more
efficient by focusing more directly on limited-resource farming clientele,
other countries have begun to incorporate FSR/E concepts and.approaches into
their university curricula. The following European universities have incor-
porated FSR/E into their curricula: IDS/Sussex and the Imperial College of
Science and Technology, London, Great Britain, and The Agricultural Univer-
sity, Wageningen, The Netherlands. In Central America, CATIE (Turrialba,
Costa Rica) incorporates the FSR/E approach into the curriculum. In Southeast
Asia and the Pacific, the six universities of the Southeast Asian Universities
Agroecosystems Network (SUAN) all offer instruction in the philosophy of FSR/E
(Bogor and Padjadjaran in Indonesia; Baguio and Los Banos in the Philippines;
Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen in Thailand), as does Hawkesbury College (Australia).
African universities are also playing a growing role in the operation of
FSR/E projects, and increasingly, in teaching FSR/E methods. Four Nigerian
universities, operating from their own adaptations of the U.S. Land Grant
Model, have on going FSR/E projects with formal linkages to their national
FSR/E program. The University of Zimbabwe has a FSR/E project with informal
linkages to the national FSR/E unit, and also operates an annual training pro-
gram with support from CIMMYT's East African Programme. Sokoine University in
Tanzania, Egerton College in Kenya, the University of Swaziland, Njala Univer-
sity in Sierra Leone and the University Centre Dschang in Cameroon all have on
going FSR/E projects, and Makerere University in Uganda is starting a similar
effort. Njala offers courses in FSR/E methods and students gain hands-on
experience in the field project, supported by IDRC. Cameroon's effort is
quite new, but has the same objective as the Njala program.
5. National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES)
The acid test for FSR/E is "the extent to which these procedures are
permanently institutionalized in national programmes with adequate policy and
financial backing" (Chiduza and Rukuni, 1985). While donor project evalua-
tions are one measure FSR/E status, they should not be the only criteria.
Donors can be insensitive to national feeling and ruled by fads and fashions.
Many long-time FSR/E practitioners worry that donors have moved too fast,
too soon and with too much money in FSR/E (Norman and Collinson, 1985). Large
projects were designed before local management expertise was developed and
were implemented by expatriates with little FSR/E experience. Little thought
was given to institutionalization. Donors sometimes equate the building of an
experiment station with developing an FSR/E program. Unfortunately, bricks
and mortar are more easily set into place than new paradigms for solving
difficult problems. Donors are now evaluating young FSR/E projects expecting
to find solid institutionalization where concrete has barely begun to set.
Developing national and international capacity is a slow process and must be
considered carefully in evaluations (Norman and Collinson, 1985). Fortunate-
ly, there is evidence that things are changing. Donors, particularly USAID,
have become more rigorous in design and review procedures. More emphasis is
being placed on training national practitioners (Gambia GARD Project/Univ.
Wisconsin/USAID), structuring internal evaluation and monitoring mechanisms
(Mali PRSPR Project/SECID/USAID) using better diagnostic methods (Mauritania
AGRES II Project/Univ. Arizona/USAID) and involving extension workers (Niger
APS Project/ Labatt-Anderson/USAID).
The progress of FSR/E today is best seen by reviewing the status of
national programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Recent conferences and
workshops (1985-86) with national researchers, extension workers, and program
leaders on the state of FSR/E in-their respective countries provide the
material for this review.
a) Africa. FSR/E is rapidly gaining a place in agricultural research and
extension programs, with thirty-five out of forty-one Sub-Saharan countries
reporting some level of activity. FSR/E is not new to the region. Eicher and
Baker describe an "invisible literature on FSR in Africa which can provide a
perspective on current FSR programs" (1982). They cite experiences of the
Cotton Research Corporation in Uganda in the 1950's, the Uboma study in east-
ern Nigeria in the 1960s, and the Experimental Units in Senegal's groundnut
basin in the early 1970s as predating contemporary FSR/E programs. These ex-
periences demonstrated that on-farm research is not a luxury but a necessity
in shaping national research programs; multidisciplinary teams incorporating
social scientists are essential to agricultural research; and farmer testing
of technological innovations is needed prior to dissemination by extension.
Early efforts to employ a farming systems perspective were essentially
descriptive studies of traditional farming in various ecological regions of
the continent and among different ethnic groups (e.g.,Ruthenberg, 1980)-. Some
projects are still mostly descriptive and classed as Research on Farming
Systems (Appendix 3, Figure 1). Moving beyond description for many projects
was difficult due to use of large formal surveys which did not provide timely
results and required an inordinate amount of time in data collection and
analysis. Developing cost-effective diagnostic tools has become a key
objective of current FSR/E projects.
Subsequent efforts can be grouped as either (1) projects aimed at design-
ing new farming systems (NFSD) to replace traditional farming systems or (2)
projects attempting to integrate technological and institutional change for
specific target regions (FSRAD) (See Appendix 3 for details on these types).
Implementation difficulties with both have hindered success. The unit of
analysis in both is an entire farming system (NFSD) or an entire region
encompassing one or more farming systems (FSRAD), resulting in insufficient
disaggregation of data. NFSD is expensive in terms of budget and personnel
and must be conducted on a very large scale, placing it beyond the financial
capabilities of most national programs. The most prominent NFSD effort today
is at IITA. Their objective is to replace shifting cultivation with a more
stable and productive agricultural system. The effort is a top-down exercise
in modeling "what could be done in a particular situation with existing
know-how" (Norman and Collinson, 1986).
Some reject NFSD because it is "playing house with the farming system,"
and "devoid of any connection to reality" (Bremmer, 1983) but in areas of eco-
logical catastrophe or prolonged drought NFSD may be needed to continue farm-
ing at all. Step-wise improvements may not be enough to bring production back
up to even subsistence levels. Areas with intensive repopulation may also
need NFSD to meet the needs of farmers unfamiliar with new ecological zones.
FSRAD is typified by French R-D (see Appendix 7) projects in Senegal, Bur-
kina Faso, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast. Its ob-
jective is long-term technological and institutional development of a region.
Interventions can be technical, socioeconomic, political, or deal with their
linkages. FSRAD solutions to farmer production problems may not always be
technical but often require alterations in infrastructure or policy. In prac-
tice FSRAD is difficult to manage due to its complexity and requires signifi-
cant long term outside donor support. Few purely FSRAD projects exist today.
Recent reviews (Fresco, 1984; Fresco and Poats 1986; and Bellon et al.,
1985) have used the Francophone-Anglophone dichotomy as a tool for classifying
the various FSR/E approaches in Africa (see Appendix 7). However, since a
greater number of national programs demonstrate combinations of both Anglo-
phone and Francophone traditions, this tool has become less useful for ana-
lyzing the progress of FSR/E development. Considerable convergence now exists
between the two, and it appears that FSR/E is moving "towards a middle ground
in West Africa which will exploit the strengths of both Francophone and Anglo-
phone research and development experiences and minimize the weaknesses of each
approach" (Baker and Norman, 1986).
Currently, most national programs are using or exploring some form of
FSR/E within their agricultural research and extension systems. Though many
do not call their activities "FSR/E", most are grappling with linkages between
research and extension. Table 2 classifies countries according to the degree
to which FSR/E is, or is being, institutionalized. Group 1 countries have
made changes in the institutional organization of research and extension to
accommodate FSR/E. External funding, often substantial, is still present, but
national commitment to FSR/E is strongly evident. Group 2 countries have
significant differences among them in regard to level of experience with FSR/E
and relative strength of R-E linkages. In group 3 countries, FSR/E has often
occurred in fits and starts without sustained effort, yet all are implementing
or plan to implement pilot projects in the near future. Political problems in
some have precluded sustained donor support (e.g., Uganda, Somalia, and Mozam-
bique). The paucity of FSR/E materials in Portuguese hampers expansion of the
approach in Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.
The institutional structure for FSR/E differs considerably from country to
country. Each national setting has unique peculiarities and twists, with
institutional structures to reflect these. Currently, African leaders are
exploring better institutional frameworks for organization and implementation
of FSR/E by exchanging experiences with other countries through regional
networking. Eastern and southern countries are linked through the CIMMYT
program, while West and Central countries are linked through the West African
Farming Systems Research Network (WAFSRN) which held its first symposium March
1986. Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi share results through the great lakes region-
al organization and research institute, IRAZ. Networking across East-West
boundaries began through joint efforts of CIMMYT and FSSP at the Egerton Work-
shop (August, 1985). SAFGRAD OAU/STRC offers another vehicle for networking
and exchanges among those African countries in the Sahel. Thematic networks
like the West African Integrated Livestock Systems Network (Poats and Starkey,
1986) have also been established.
Institutionalization of FSR/E has not been an easy task in African coun-
tries. Many, like Botswana, have had a relatively long history of FSR/E, but
"development has been on a project orientated ad-hoc basis and only now is
serious thought being given to how these various projects can be integrated
into a cohesive national programme" (Chiduza and Rukuni, 1985). Despite
difficulties and variations in national structures, at least six patterns of
Table 2. African Countries Classified
According To Relative Degree Of
GROUP 1 COUNTRIES:
GROUP 2 COUNTRIES:
In Process of Re-
GROUP 3 COUNTRIES:
Some Pilot FSR/E
GROUP 4 COUNTRIES:
institutionalization can be discerned in Africa. The first pattern has a
coordinating body operating at the national level, usually from within a
research organization. A second places FSR/E in a department or a program in
the national research organization. The third creates area-focused adaptive
research teams with liaison to national level commodity teams. A fourth pat-
tern shows no institutional changes and FSR/E is initiated within existing
structures, often as a pilot project. A fifth pattern is observed when FSR/E
operates within commodity programs. The sixth pattern is demonstrated by
those countries where FSR/E efforts are initiated by universities (see
examples in Section II, A,4.b.). Table 3 gives examples of most of these
patterns and compares selected countries by institutional type, donor support
and results to date. (See also Appendix 15 for supplemental case studies from
Africa.) Countries with commodity-specific FSR/E and strong connections to
IARCs are not included in Table 3, but some examples are the cassava-based
PRONAM project in Zaire (supported by IITA), the potato programs in Rwanda,
Burundi and Zaire (supported by CIP), the bean project in Rwanda (supported by
CIAT), the maize projects in Burundi and Ghana (supported by IDRC and CIMMYT),
and the rice project in Madagascar (supported by IRRI).
It is too soon to evaluate the relative success of these different insti-
tutional patterns. Some countries are experimenting with several alternatives
simultaneously. Others, after working with one structure initially while
learning to use the FSR/E methodology and relying primarily on support from
outside donors, are now reorganizing to better fit the approach within the
actual budgetary and management parameters of the national research and exten-
sion system. Based on our observations at present, it appears that a combina-
tion of several patterns will offer the best institutional model for African
countries. This combination will likely include some type of national coor-
dinating body, a programatic base which will cut across disciplinary units,
and regionally-based adaptive research and extension teams which will inter-
face with commodity and specialist teams having national mandates.
b) Asia. FSR/E in Asia began in the late 1960s. Today, two major systems
networks operate there: the Asian Farming Systems Network (AFSN), formerly
the Asian Cropping Systems Network, begun in 1975 (Hoque, 1984), and the
Southeast Asian Unversities Agroecosystem Network (SUAN), begun in 1982. AFSN
Sype of FSR/E Institutionalization, Donor Support an esu s to
Date for Selected African Countries.
TPYPR OP ThJSTI~~hTIOMALIZATIW
BENEFITS OF FSR/E TO DATE
National coordinator, located at Central
Research Station of Research Branch,
Dept. of.Agriculture, who liases with
Directors of research and extension.
Adaptive Research Planning Teams (ARPTs)
are located at provincial level with
liaison to national Commodity & Speci-
alist Research Teams (CSRTs).
NORAD & IFAD.
RSP (FSR) established in 1985 as one of
eight multidisciplinary priority
agricultural programs within INERA, the
National Research Institute of the Min.
of Higher Education and Scientific
Research. Informal links to Min. Agri.
and Livestock at local levels but formal
links only'via existing Ministry links.
USAID in past
-Methodology established with previous
-Initial on-farm experience with tied-
ridging and fertilizer showed need to
understand intrahousehold labor dynamics
and "fit" of proposed technology in order
to attain farmer acceptability.
-New program intends to build on earlier
experiences to develop farmer adapted
technology; better horizontal links with
commodity programs; and better vertical
links between farmers, development workers
and policy makers.
-100% yield improvement in sunflower in
Eastern Province due to early planting.
-Farmers increased bean yield several fold
due to row planting and reduced seed rate
in Luapula Province.
-Better and earlier farmer assessment of
new varieties lead to changes in CSRT plans
to test varieties.
-Farmer input to ARPT lead to modified on-
farm trials with ridges instead of flat
beds due to water logging frequency.
-Negative farmer comments led to discontin-
uation of research on rotary jab planter.
-Creation of new crop memos specific to
each of three farming systems in the
Eastern Province to replace the previous
single crop memo for whole province.
-On-farm experimental thrusts identified
for specific groups of farmers.
-Better understanding of why current
recommendations are not widely adopted.
-Improved linkages between research and
extension efforts as ARPT result.
-Input supply and credit decision mechanism
re-geared to locally appropriate technology
developed by on-farm research of ARPT.
rylIhym- TYPE OF INSTITUTIONALIZATION
PSR (FSR) and Rural Technology Transfer
is a dept. within the National Ag. Res.
Institute, ISRA. Four local PSR teams
operate at regional research stations.
PSR closely linked to Macro-Economic
Analysis Bureau which enhances
production-marketing-policy links. PSR
dept links w/ extension via development
authorities at regional level.
National coordinator for FSR, under
Tanzania Ag. Res. Organization (TARO),
who coordinates FSR Working Committees
and National FSR Team which operates
zonal teams which include extension
officers and operate field trial teams.
-In Kilosa district, new maize variety
"Kito" released early from multi-location
trials due to farmer assessment and need
for maize seed to overcome shortage. Widely
tested and accepted via on-farm trials.
-Better research-extension linkages at
-Recognition of need to link on-farm
results to policy-making level.
National coordinator appointed in 1983.
FSR is one of 9 Nationally Coordinated
Research Projects. Project operated in
4 nat'l ag. res. institutes and several
ag. dev. projects with coordinator of
each who works with national coord. In-
formation exchange facilitated by
Nigerian National Farming Systems
FORD F., IITA
Results from one project at IAR, Zaria:
-Better diagnosis of farming systems using
farming practices not land areas as
-Better linkages between FSR and commodity
programs through joint presence on Research
Review Committee of each program.
-On-farm adaptive trials conducted to test
new crop packages of commodity program
WORLD -Better criteria (eg. division of labor,
:IRAD proportion of rainfed vs. irrigated crops,
animal traction use) used to distinguish
agricultural zones in region for technology
testing and development.
-On-station systems trials initiated to
coordinate with on-farm trials with same
objectives differing only in # repetitions.
-Djibelor station re-organized and enlarged
to reduce 100% irrigated rice focus and
include substantial rainfed research on new
upland station lands as result of better
identification of client farmer systems
which are increasingly rainfed.
-Better multi-year scientific programming
due to better identification of priority
farmer problems by region.
-Better commodity-PSR linkages and
cooperation especially with watershed team.
DRSPR (FSR) is dept. of the Institute of
Rural Economy (IER), Min. Agriculture.
FSR conducted in three DRSPR projects
each with different donor. Extension
linkages made through local regional
development organizations (CMDT-cotton;
OHV-Volta River Valley Authority).
-Better research-extension linkages now
exist especially at local sites and farmer-
researcher-extensionist dialog established.
-Previously held notions of homogeneity of
southern zone abandoned and zones now
defined using.farming practice criteria.
-Farmer association of maize and sorghum
shown through on-farm research to be effec-
tive strategy for certain zones and is now
part of research program.
FSR project lead by agronomist (Assoc.
Professor at Njala University College)
for limited resource farmers of Kamajei
and Kowa Chiefdoms, close to Njala.
Students and lecturers for small
research teams. Project goals include
adaptive research for improved
technology, methodological development
and training of student.
-Criteria for measuring results of trials
based on farmer use (eg. maize trials=fresh
cob yield since farmers use fresh cob for
sale and food).
-Maize and sweet potato trials conducted
without fertilizer because not available to
farmers. New varieties must perform at
least as good or better than local ones
under zero fertilizer conditions. No new
maize varieties could do so yet farmers
desire fertilizers in order to grow maize
to provide food during hungry season prior
to rice harvest. Thus recommendation made
to policymakers on fertilizer supply.
-Plot size of on-farm trials too small for
farmers to do necessary operations so farm
plot size to be reduced.
consists of 11 member nations, including both India and China, while SUAN
consists of six agricultural universities, two each from Indonesia, Philip-
pines, and Thailand (Mendoza, 1985). The focus of AFSN has been on flooded
rice-based cropping systems research but recent efforts have included both
secondary non-rice crops and upland non-paddy crops (Hoque, 1984). AFSN has
facilitated annual monitoring tours of member nation's programs and has formed
numerous topical working groups. SUAN focuses on human ecology/agroecosystems
analysis. The key ingredient of the agroecosystems approach is the explicit
consideration of long-term sustainability (Gibbs, 1985), while most FSR/E
approaches have overlooked issues of sustainability to focus on immediate
Agricultural research in Asia continues to address the problems and needs
of secondary and upland crops and non-rice subsystems, including agroforestry
and livestock. There is a growing realization that refinements to IRRI's
traditional cropping systems methodology are needed. Asian rainfed crops,
livestock and agroforestry systems are subject to much greater variability and
risk than the traditional paddy rice crop. The two major Asian approaches,
farming systems research and agroecosystems analysis, seem to be coming
together and using some of the comparative strengths of each other's methods
(FSR/E-Agroecosystems Workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, August, 1985; Rapid Rural
Appraisal Workshop, Khon Kaen, Thailand, September, 1985). Finally, Australia
has considerable expertise in introducing and working with FSR/E in Asia, both
within ministries and at the university level (Australian Centre for
International Agricultural Research, 1985). In addition, Hawksbury College,
N.S.W., (Australia) offers an approach to FSR/E in their curriculum.
Several important institutional lessons from the two Asian networks can be
applied to the African situation. Just as AFSN found it necessary to have
both a permanent base (at IRRI) and a network coordinator, so does WAFSRN
need a permanent headquarters and coordinator. Some of the sustainability
issues being examined by the SUAN network may be of methodological importance
to Africa, while the experience of the six Asian universities who began this
network are relevant to African universities facing similar start-up issues.
c) Latin America. FSR/E in Latin America can be traced to early cropping
systems research projects in Caqueza, Colombia, in 1971 (Zandstra et al.,
1979), Rio Negro, Colombia, in 1971 (Tobon C., 1985), El Salvador, in 1973
(Hildebrand and French, 1974, and CATIE, Costa Rica, in 1973 (Burgos and
Navarro, 1985). The first national effort, built in part on the experience
being gained in the other projects, was with the establishment of ICTA, the
Guatemalan Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, in 1973. One of
the first national programs to develop and utilize farming systems methodo-
logy, the experience in Guatemala has served as a model throughout the world
(McDermot and Bathrick, 1982).
During the 1970s, ICTA personnel helped create a cropping systems group in
the regional network meetings of the Central American Cooperative Program for
the Improvement of Food Crops (PCCMCA). The PCCMCA, along with the
USAID-funded CATIE project, helped create widespread interest in the farming
systems approach throughout Central America and the Caribbean. South American
countries have begun to participate in the PCCMCA network also and about half
of those countries presently have farming systems projects.
Even though FSR/E has usually been associated with research and has been
criticized for not integrating with extension, the farming systems project in
Paraguay, supported by FSSP training, is institutionally located in the
extension service rather than in research (Poey, 1985). In only two years'
time, this project has flourished after beginning with an investment of only
$100,000 U.S. from the USAID Mission. The CIMMYT maize program is supporting
collaborative research with the FSR/E effort. Both the Guatemalan and
Paraguayan experiences offer appropriate examples for African national pro-
grams to explore alternative institutional possibilities for incorporating the
FSR/E approach into their national structures.
B. Evaluating FSR/E Projects
1. The Cost Issue
Before concluding that FSR/E absorbs too many financial resources, one
must ask what the alternatives are. Since FSR/E depends on good, well-focused
commodity (conventional) research as well as meaningful collaboration with
extension, it is an approach to improve overall efficiency of research-
extension systems. If one agrees with the presentation in Section I of this
report, there are no alternatives.
Evaluation of cost effectiveness of FSR/E in Africa should consider how
long it took research and extension to become cost effective in the U.S., a
span of 50 to 75 years depending on the point of reference. The FSR/E ap-
proach and its application in Africa varies from over 20 years of age
(Nigeria) to several months (Mauritania). USAID/Africa rapidly created a.
significant portfolio of FSR/E projects in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Many of these projects attempted to utilize an FSR/E approach but experienced
design problems, lacked basis for evaluation and lacked trained FSR/E
researchers to fill technical assistance positions. Given the political,
economic, biological and edaphic variability existing in Africa (Brown and
Wolf, 1985) most FSR/E approaches are either too young or ill-suited to formal
quantitative (conventional) evaluations. Thus it is difficult to assess the
costs associated with the approach without. considering the stream of benefits
which will result from it.
The argument that FSR/E is too expensive was made during the first annual
meeting of WAFSRN (WAFSRN Meeting, March, 1986). However, numerous partici-
pants pointed out that FSR/E has high recurrent, but low initial, costs; may
be credited with several successes which are extremely difficult to quantify;
and has often been asked to "quickly transform" large areas of low agricul-
tural potential which have been ignored by traditional research and by-passed
by Green Revolution innovations. Rainfed areas dominated by complex mixes of
crops, livestock and/or agroforestry systems as in Africa are a case in point.
Such ecologically fragile and trying situations call for very long-term re-
search, (basic and adaptive) and extension strategies. Partly to reinforce
this latter reason, USAID's recent Africa Strategy Paper calls for continued
U.S. commitment to the nations of Africa and repeatedly calls for FSR/E sup-
port for at least the next 25 to 50 years (USAID, 1985a). The FSR/E approach,
based upon logical and affordable incremental increases in production and/or
family welfare will support African research and extension but requires long-
term investments where human, institutional, financial and other resource
commitments are not yet in place.
Much of the cost of FSR/E in the late 1970's and early 1980's went into
USAID Africa projects which were nominal FSR/E projects. Thus, the population
of projects evaluated so far is skewed by the inclusion of many first-round
project evaluations from the late 1970's and early 1980's (i.e., CARDI phase I
[Eastern Caribbean], HARP [Honduras], NERAD [Thailand], MFP [The Gambia], and
projects in Lesotho, Malawi, and Sudan) that should not count in the evalua-
tion process as FSR/E projects. A first attempt to classify USAID projects in
Africa, according to the classes "is FSR/E" or "is not FSR/E" was recently
completed by Karen Weise. (Weise, 1985). The considerable'lag between design
and implementation of FSR/E projects further compounds evaluation problems.
Future evaluations of FSR/E projects will be more important than those
completed thus far in assessing FSR/E impact. More care has gone into design
of the current USAID projects which contain FSR/E components. Many projects
now are integrated agricultural research projects and acknowledge the vital
roles of both conventional research and FSR/E. In these projects FSR/E
assists in improving the efficiency of relevant technology generation and
dissemination. Current USAID projects are also designed with input from host
country counterparts, professionals and administrators. In implementation
USAID, the host country governments, and contractors are more careful to staff
their FSR/E project components with qualified people.
Of greatest concern currently is how to evaluate second and third genera-
tion FSR/E projects and the reduced levels of funding for future FSR/E pro-
jects. Since FSR/E complements conventional research, the resulting combina-
tion is likely to be more expensive than either alone. What is important is
not the relative cost of either conventional research or FSR/E alone, but the
cost effectiveness of the two complementary approaches over time in delivering
consistently useful technology to farmers. Direct support to FSR/E approaches
in third-world nations to ensure the long-term institutionalization of the
approach is necessary. Whether a USAID project approach or direct support
provided by IDRC (see Appendix 8) is best depends on the human resource base
and the national environment. Four universal considerations for future evalu-
ation are: 1) changes in attitudes of researchers and extension agents toward
their farmer clients, 2) giving greater attention to farmer's needs and prior-
ities, (3) developing meaningful working relationships with both male and
female farmers, and (4) using the approach to provide a meaningful backward
linkage to both traditional and.biotechnology-based research systems.
2. Evaluation Processes
Conventional quantitative evaluations leave out many of the important
improvements introduced by FSR/E projects such as: 1) links between project
design and evaluation, 2) continuity between successive evaluations of a given
FSR/E project, and 3) evaluation team composition and preparation. Links.
between FSR/E project design and evaluation facilitate project implementation.
Many of the improvements proposed for project evaluations must be incorporated
into project design and redesign. Incorporating relevant evaluation criteria
is important and suggests a move from quantitative to qualitative indicators.
Applications of the FSR/E approach influences attitudes of research and exten-
sion personnel by sharpening their focus on the client and broadening their
perspective to include the holistic nature of farming. Measuring either
quantitative or qualitative impact on attitudes is difficult-. Several innova-
tive non-traditional log frame evaluation criteria have been used successfully
in projects containing the FSR/E approach or components (Farming Systems
Support Project, 1985; WAFSRN Evaluation Criteria Meeting, March, 1986.)
a) Criteria. The following generally applicable criteria are recommended
in designing, evaluating and re-designing FSR/E projects. (Specific criteria
.adaptable for a project log frame and internal self-evaluation are included in
* Project impact on farmers and intermediate clients: satisfaction with in-
volvement in the on-farm research activity, acceptability of the resulting
Institutionalization of the FSR/E approach: management of the human re-
source development approach to FSR/E training, management support mechanisms
to strengthen research and extension linkages, dialog between research and
extension, dialog between FSR/E practitioners and national policy-makers.
Feedback to conventional research from FSR/E communication between commodity
researchers, FSR/E practitioners, and subject matter specialists.
Impact of FSR/E on research priorities and agricultural policy and reduction
of constraints of limited-resource farmers.
* Project linkage to successful negotiation of FSR/E stages by the contractor
team and host country counterparts.
Continuous stakeholder dialog and negotiation between the FSR/E team, the
managing Ministry or Department of the host country, and the Donor (if appli-
cable) can assess progress with the FSR/E approach and help reach consensus on
fine-tuned modifications to achieve design goals and evaluation recommenda-
tions. Continuity between successive evaluations of a given project is
necessary and can be ensured by:
* Including one evaluator from the first evaluation in subsequent evaluations.
* Establishing one evaluation team for the life of the project.
* Viewing project status in terms of total project lifespan and FSR/E stages.
* Using roll-over designs, by reassessing the appropriateness of the project
log frame every one to two years and modifying it as necessary.
* Including plans for an external evaluation panel in the project design.
b) Evaluators. Team composition size and preparation can influence the
outcome of an evaluation more than the specific evaluation mandate given to
the team, or the criteria used to conduct the evaluation itself (WAFSRN Evalu-
ation Criteria Meeting, March, 1986). The lack of FSR/E practitioners on many
USAID project design teams has meant a lack of both meaningfully-designed
projects, and meaningfully-developed log frames containing relevant end of
project success indicators. Some principles to consider are:
* Employ field teams with FSR/E practitioner experience.
* Use a systematic evaluation protocol document for USAID-funded FSR/E pro-
jects (FSSP Evaluation Task Force Report, forthcoming).
* Involve more senior level host country nationals.
* Encourage inter-agency evaluations of projects.
* Employ small teams for best coordination, but make them sufficient in size
to understand project details in the time allocated for evaluation.
* Utilize evaluation team briefings (culture, country, project FSR/E method-
ology, R/E management) in all circumstances.
C. Future Directions for FSR/E
1. Priorities with Pervasive Dimensions.
While specific concerns for current and future directions in FSR/E appli-
cations, for general needs of FSR/E projects, for programs in Africa and for
the important inter-household/gender considerations are discussed in subse-
quent sections, several priority constraints or opportunities encompass the
entire problem set:
* The Role of Extension in FSR/E, while overlooked, is emerging and criti-
cal to success, not only in use, diffusion and integration of improved
technology, but to the technology development process as a mechanism for
mobilizing research potential.
* Sustainability is recognized as key to success of agricultural and farm-
ing systems with particular reference to human, natural and technical resource
capability to sustain production and welfare and the base upon which resources
and outputs rest. Sustainability must become a consistently used criteria for
judging the potential of proposed technological solutions to farmer problems.
* Crop and Livestock Integration has long been called for by many practi-
tioners. Great strides have been made in the past four years to develop and
refine methodologies for conducting on-farm experimentation with livestock but
these need to be further tested under farmer conditions. Animal traction
technology, which intersects forage, food crop, tool, socioeconomic, animal
health, and policy research has been particularly useful in fomenting
developments in this area.
* Policy direction and planning is necessary, both formal and informal, to
provide a base for successful integration of research and extension institu-
tionally and in practice as well as to address those macro and micro phenomena
that can help secure sustainability and linkages in support of a successful
on-farm technology-generation process.
2. Shifts and Trends.
FSR/E as a mode of conducting research and extension, is in strong demand
by African, Asian and Latin American countries. Countries represented at re-
cent African conferences affirmed that brief pre/diagnostic farmer studies are
essential, that FSR/E must become a mode for research and extension integra-
tion and that each country must adapt from all FSR/E methodologies and from
all related approaches to fit their specific needs. (World Bank, Ivory Coast,
February 1985; CIMMYT, Lesotho, November 1985; CIMMYT/FSSP, Egerton College,
Kenya, August 1984; West African Farming Systems Research Network, Senegal,
Shifting from project to program FSR/E emphasis by USAID is emerging in
Africa, as has been accomplished in Asia and Latin America. National program
coordination, now emerging and unique to each country, is concomitant with and
essential to program emphasis in implementing FSR/E. Long range benefits of
FSR/E will be optimized by incorporation of the approach through national
programs supported by the IARCs. National program networking while serving
FSR/E early as the vehicle for "constructive conflict" (Rhoades and Booth,
1982) and successful consensus building, now is serving more as a mechanism
for the exchange of experiences in institutionalization of the approach in
national systems and the exchange of results of on-farm experimentation.
Networking has been primarily among researchers. However, there is increasing
involvement of extension workers, development agents, administrators and
university faculty which indicates project to program emphasis.
3. General Recommendations for Programs With an FSR/E Perspective.
Farmers, researchers, extension workers and policy makers must interact
not only in FSR/E diagnosis and testing phases, but should interact throughout
the entire research process, including trial design and redesign (Chambers and
Ghildyal, 1985; Chambers and Jiggins, 1986; Galt, 1985b; Rhoades and Booth,
1982). All must understand the scope of on-farm programs and farmer partici-
pation as the basis for feedback to the research system; enhancing the capabi-
lity of the extension system to transfer and fine-tune recommendations
(ICRISAT Summary statement, 1986; CIMMYT, 1984); and strengthening policy
support to farmer-national linkages. Internal networking is essential among
researchers and extension workers such as the highly successful exchanges now
beginning in Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Rwanda as a basis for establishing
regional and national program priorities.
Inclusion of inter-and intra-household, gender and non-farm employment
issues as necessary to successful FSR/E is expanding and should be given
further attention. These parameters, as indicated by country level FSR/E
projects (Indonesia, Philippines, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Colombia, Zambia and
Malawi) influence success of the technology innovation process. Further
understanding of this influence is essential for improved research and exten-
sion and for policy making to serve agricultural sector goals and farm family
needs. Appendix 11 briefly discusses methodological experience and needs
relative to the family in the farming system.
Documentation of FSR/E results, besides philosophy, concepts and defini-
S tions, entails growing attention to methodological improvement and the process
of institutionalization. Relatively little systematic reporting of FSR/E
results for policymaking and planning has been accomplished. There are good
examples of the impact of FSR/E on the process.of generating acceptable farmer
technology that need to be synthesized and shared at regional and national
levels. Better reporting of FSR/E results will also yield methodological
improvements in the design and analysis of on-farm experiments (livestock and
crop-systems) and techniques for monitoring the impact (household, nutritional
status, natural environment, production, welfare of new technology.)
Institutionalization of FSR/E as a goal should be larger than FSR/E
projects or programs, for it is the farming systems perspective which needs to
be captured within the institutions. A client participatory adaptive research
and extension mode is the framework for the future of this perspective.
4. Specific Recommendations for Projects with FSR/E Components
Training of professionals in FSR/E and team-building is essential both in
general and tailored to national needs, at all levels. Existing efforts to
provide short course training and training materials through FSSP and
collaborators as well as university courses should be expanded.
Methodological innovation in FSR/E, in FSR/E-conventional research linkages,
and in conventional research, are all essential.
Systematic farm-level records must be kept.
Documentation of FSR/E results and team-building experiences is necessary.
Program information must be regularly shared within the country and with
other countries through formalized practitioner information exchanges.
Improved collaboration among IARCs must continue, in sharing information on
methods, coordinating work with national programs, and joint training.
* FSR/E programs must encourage participation of other groups such as Peace
Corps Volunteers, graduate students ready to undertake field research, and
Private Voluntary Organizations.
5. Recommendations for FSR/E in Africa
Drawing largely upon the thinking of Norman, Collinson, Baker, Abalu,
Chiduza, Rukuni, Zandstra, Chambers and Jiggins, the following issues are
reemphasized as critical for successful research and extension in Africa.
* Donor-funded FSR/E programs should fund institution-building and FSR/E
institutionalization at the program level.
* Human resource development through practical training (field-level,
in-service, hands-on, short-course/workshop) and a national FSR/E training
strategy is essential to further FSR/E development.
* Institutionalization of training within local institutions through training
of trainers, development of support materials, network communication and
continuing education efforts must be accomplished.
* National FSR/E strategies are necessary to provide the means for unified
national coordination of donor financing and enforce convergence of donor
objectives with national goals.
* FSR/E in national settings must add a macro-perspective to the pre-
dominant micro-orientation by citing results from on-farm testing of techno-
logies to further the case for policy modifications in support systems.
* Linkages between research and extension, largely informal at present must
occur institutionally and at the farm level, with researchers and regional
extension workers being linked through farmer groups in villages.
* Researchers must acknowledge farmers as colleagues as well as clients for
improved technology through farmer participation in reviewing research de-
signs, revealing farmer-designed trials, monitoring and evaluating the
results of trials, and setting research priorities.
* FSR/E must continuously clarify its collective role with conventional and
III POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS
A. Relationship Between FSR/E and Single-Commodity Research Programs
1. What Are The Linkages?
The vital complementary relationship between FSR/E and commodity programs
has been emphasized throughout this report. Currently within USAID there is a
move to return to more intensive research on commodities, especially those of
greatest dietary import to Africans (eg. maize, millet, sorghum, certain
legumes, and cassava). This will, by the sheer size of the effort required,
demand more, not less, tailored, farm-level testing of technologies and inter-
ventions. Such testing will not be simply trials, with and without fertili-
zer, in sole crops. Instead, farm-level trials will have to take into account
constraints such as traditional and/or low-cost innovative types of land pre-
paration, low- or no-cost inputs, predominant cropping combinations, syste-
matic nutrient recycling, and gender and familial support of the primary
cultivator of major target crop/livestock combinations, all as integral parts
of trial design efforts. For this reason, it is essential that an FSR/E
approach be used to improve specific commodity production.
Norman and Collinson (1985) differentiate between FSR/E "in the small" and
"with a pre-determined focus" (Appendix 3). The latter refers most frequently
to a pre-determined focus on a specific commodity. Most IARC efforts fall
into this category due to their mainly crop-centered mandates. There are some
natural linkages between single commodity research and FSR/E. First, both
involve multiple disciplines, often engaged in team efforts. Commodity
research, however, rarely includes social sciences unless it is conducted with
a farming systems perspective. Because commodity research is often includes
multi-locational trials, the incorporation of on-farm experiments with varying
levels of farmer management can occur with less difficulty than in agricul-
tural research programs that are strictly discipline-based. Adding the farm-
ing systems perspective to a single commodity program can be accomplished more
easily than trying to make vast institutional changes across all programs at
once. Adding one or two people is less disruptive than creating whole new
programs. Norman and Collinson (1986) refer to the introduction of FSR/E
through a commodity program as "driving a narrow wedge into agricultural
bureaucracies" from which to build up to capacity to apply a systems perspec-
tive and then "open the wedge" to forge necessary linkages access commodities,
components and other programs. Though this strategy has been highly success-
ful in getting a systems perspective introduced in various regions, it is
criticized because progress in opening the wedge has been slow, and involve-
ment of extension, attention to livestock and consideration of secondary and
horticultural crops or postharvest problems has been poor.
2. How Effective Are These Linkages?
Vertical linkages for commodity programs are rather good. The qualified
exception is that though specific recommendations are made for extension to
transfer, there is little integration of these recommendations or technologies
with other farming activities. Low-resource farmers do not practice single
commodity production, but rather integrated production, and therefore need
recommendations for integrated systems. Even when operating in a farming
systems perspective, too often there has been little linkage across various
commodities, and the onus of integration is left by default to extension.
Frequently, there is also conflict between commodity programs, especially if
there are donor or outside agencies involved. Resolution of this conflict
among donors is crucial if their support to national research and extension
programs that employ the FSR/E approach is to be effective. Recent efforts
demonstrate that this is possible (CIMMYT, 1984; ICRISAT, 1986). Norman and
Collinson (1986) state that the "predetermined focus" approach to commodity
programs has several disadvantages such as:
* Focusing attention away from more crucial farmers problems and objectives.
* Reducing the ability to rank problems across commodities in order to
appropriate allocatation of resources.
* Creating a great potential for overlap between commodity programs.
* Making linkages with extension more difficult.
* Emphasizing systems perspective conflicts with peer-group recognition among
specialized researchers in commodity programs.
3. How Can They Be Improved?
Though the "with a predetermined focus" can help national programs to
rapidly get moving with on-farm research, as Norman and Collinson (1986) point
out, the disadvantages listed above suggest that opting for a "in the small"
approach might have greater benefits in the long run. This choice will facil-
itate a holistic view of priority problems in the system and allow better
allocation of resources towards their solution. Overlapping activities of
several commodity teams doing on-farm research in a single area can be avoided
and greater linkages with extension will be achieved more naturally. This
route can also diffuse some of the destructive results of disciplinary-based
peer group pressure.
Many countries, such as zambia and Malawi, are integrating: adaptive re-
search teams to conduct FSR/E in specific regions or areas and linking these
to commodity research teams through the coordination unit. This model seems
to be effective in integrating the two needs in complementary fashion.
Greater difficulties arise when FSR/E is housed in a department that is
parallel and competitive for scarce resources with disciplinary or commodity
based departments. One specific measure to enhance collaboration and linkages
within any model is the joint elaboration and review of annual workplans and
explicit delineation of responsibilities and supporting budget. Here FSR/E
and commodity programs can be collaborative and not hierarchical by providing
service each to the other.
Commodity research teams can improve FSR/E teams by providing expertise on
specifics in the diagnosis of problems, advise on appropriate designs for
on-farm trials, and assist with the biological interpretation of results.
Baker and Norman (1986) give five functions with which FSR/E can support
conventional research and improve linkages between the two:
* Define the environmental situation of farms, how it differs from that of the
experiment station, and how to assess the underlying variabilities.
* Advise on appropriate experimental levels, such as fertilizer or seed, or
even endogenous variables, such as household labor availability.
* Define experimental and non-experimental variables.
* Define the farmer evaluation criteria for trials ("yield per what?").
* Conduct the "incrementalization" of packages to allow for step-wise learning
and ultimately, adoption.
FSR/E can help commodity programs more fully exploit the flexibility of a
system as well as remove constraints. Since long-term success depends on
removing constraints, FSR/E provides commodity programs with a "step by step
approach evolving away from the present system towards a new one---each step
being one that is acceptable to.farmers" (Norman and Collinson, 1985).
B. Most Productive Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches
Providing improved technology which is acceptable to farmers is the most
effective way to improve farmers' conditions, and is the ultimate goal of good
agricultural research and extension. Conventional research and extension has
experienced limited success in providing usable technology to limited-resource
farmers (see Section I, B). Current attempts to improve on conventional
research and extension have spawned other techniques and methodologies such as
biotechnology and the training and visit (T&V)system.
Biotechnology is a major new research technique which utilizes genetic
engineering of plants and animals with a goal of producing genetically superi-
or species. Access to existing germ plasm that contains many valuable traits
depends upon contacts within the world-based research and extension community.
The research capability available through biotechnology demands better inte-
gration of adaptive research and extension efforts than heretofore experienced
even in the most developed agricultural systems. While expanding basic re-
search capability, the new techniques of biotechnology are dependent upon an
adaptive research system to help transform the scientific results to farmer
accepted technology. New material must be screened for environmental impact
and for survival under laboratory, experiment station, and finally "real" farm
conditions before being considered as an adoptable technology.
The Training and Visit (T&V) system was introduced in the 1970s by the
World Bank in an attempt to make the transfer portion of technology innovation
more efficient (Benor et al.,.1984). One of the initial assumptions of T&V is
that on-shelf agricultural technology exists for immediate extension to recep-
tive farmers. In exceptional cases, such as India, where a tremendous backlog
of relevant agricultural technology could be extended immediately to farmers,
T&V has tended to work well. West African nations, which are more representa-
tive of third world countries' situations, often have little on-shelf tech-
nology to extend to their farm populations.
As noted earlier, biotechnology and T&V are sometimes posed as new models
for agricultural research and extension. Neither propose significant changes
in the conventional strategy, merely refinements of specific aspects. Bio-
technology addresses research in terms of speeding up the conventional process
of crop or animal improvement while T&V addresses inefficiencies in extension.
Because FSR/E addresses the linkage of farmers, researchers, and extensionists
and proposes a shift in the conventional paradigm for identifying research
priorities and handling research and extension methods, it presents a contrast
to the conventional approach. However, as discussed in Section I, it is a
complementary paradigm and represents an evolutionary shift in the convention-
al approach; one which promises to enhance both efficiency and effectiveness.
Conventional agricultural research and extension is commodity-centered and
discipline driven. Conventional research is often carried out in isolation
from extension and farmers themselves, leading often to irrelevant and unuse-
able research results. FSR/E is interdisciplinary and based on farmer-
participatory adaptive research and extension. It is built on the premise
that research must be based on the needs of the farmers and technology must be
tested under farmer conditions. The assumption that on-shelf technology
exists for immediate extension contradicts the adaptive concern of the FSR/E
approach. FSR/E emerged precisely because few, if any technological advances
developed by conventional research in many third world nations were relevant
for limited resource farmers.
FSR/E can assist conventional agricultural research and extension and
increase its impact on limited resource agriculturalists in two basic areas:
identifying problems considered to be most important by relatively homogeneous
groups of farmer-clientele, and providing a mechanism to accelerate the devel-
opment and release of appropriate technology to these groups. By integrating
the FSR/E approach, conventional research and extension will be more relevant
for limited resource farmers.
C. Suggested Policies to Enhance the Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches
The question facing policy makers today is how to optimize the benefits of
agricultural research and extension for limited resource farmers? Policies
and institutions must address the interdependencies of the approaches to
ensure maximum benefits to limited resource farmers and achievement of agri-
cultural sector goals. Optimal blending of approaches to agricultural re-
search and extension will result in minimizing separateness of the research
and extension functions. Policies influence and are influenced by institut-
ions; both have an impact on approaches utilized in implementation of programs
to achieve goals. Consistency among agricultural policies, institutions,
approaches, and goals, while essential for agricultural development may be
difficult to achieve and maintain.
Policies that are conducive to successful technology innovation and can
help institutions deliver acceptable and useful technologies in a timely
manner are listed below:
* Research priorities must be based on identified needs of farmers.
* Research and extension institutions must allow internal reorganization which
would be conducive to the development of field teams, setting priorities,
national coordination, and building prescriptive linkages at various levels.
This reorganization does not have to proceed any FSR/E activity, and in fact
may result as a demand for FSR/E grows among convinced practitioners.
The role of extension has to be redefined giving extension the right to play
a more active role in determining research priorities, engaging in on-farm
experimentation, and monitoring impact of new technology.
Social and economic sciences need to be brought into research and extension
at the coordination level, and mechanisms must be developed to extend their
respective methodological input to field teams even where trained social
scientists are not available.
Entities engaged in FSR/E must have adequate mobility in terms of
Institutions must have flexibility in funding and decentralized sources of
funding to accommodate activities.
In order that the above policies can be implemented and FSR/E can be
institutionalized,. FSR/E practitioners must begin to modify and adjust FSR/E
methods to fit both national program needs and their logistical and
FSR/E practitioners must be collectively more innovative in the entire
technology development and delivery process. More is needed than reports to
commodity researchers of problems identified by farmers or calling for re-
searcher assistance in designing trials to address these problems. Various
farmer-back-to-farmer approaches suggest new research and linkage opportunities
(Chambers and Ghildyal, 1985; Chambers and Jiggins, 1985; Rhoades and Potts,
1985; Richards, 1985). FSR/E practitioners must assist component researchers
in making more direct farmer linkages.
D. An Economic Evaluation of FSR/E: Qualitative and Quantitative Comparisons
of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches
1. Level of Evaluation
The question of economic viability for research and extension programs
that utuilize a farming systems approach to technology generation and transfer
engenders both confusion and limited response. Confusion because of lack of
agreement and specificity about what is to be evaluated and a limited response
because the approach is very new as research and extension efforts go. Con-
sidering three levels of economic evaluation may reduce confusion: the FSR/E
program, FSR/E project and technology resulting from FSR/E applications.
Economic viability at the program level must consider FSR/E contributions
to overall extension, research and policy efforts within the agricultural
sector. As discussed in Section I, only recently have donors and national
governments begun to address the issue. Recognition of the important linkage
potentials adaptive research and extension efforts have prompted USAID/Africa
and World Bank to emphasize FSR/E. Economic parameters for analysis are
potentially numerous but usually relate to national sectoral and institutional
goals of production, consumption, resource use and welfare.
At the FSR/E project level economic viability assumes a different but
related posture to that of program viability. As discussed in Section II of
this document, solid evidence from project evaluations of the impact attribut-
able to FSR/E is lacking because of various project design problems, lack of
adequate baseline data, and lack of sufficient time for the project to achieve
results. Intermediate indicators, while often not economic in nature, do
suggest progress through projects that utilize the FSR/E perspective toward
achievement of goals by farmers and their supporting research and extension
institutions. Attitudes of researchers and extension workers toward farmers
(male and female) have changed giving greater emphasis to farmer needs and
priorities and their feedback to the technology innovation process. Project
level recognition of the economic role of women in food production and distri-
bution itself signals major shifts in needed economic analysis. This analysis
is only beginning to take form.
Of most concern to research and extension practitioners and their
collaborating farmer clients is economic evaluation of technologies. While
such analysis should be better understood, adaptions of conventional produc-
tion and farm management economics to FSR/E needs are relatively,new and
incomplete (FSSP Training Units, forthcoming; CIMMYT Economic Analysis
Handbook, 1985). General goals of the analysis are to analyze results of
on-farm trials, differences in biological and economic optimums and a whole
farm perspective as it influences technology. Criteria must recognize house-
hold goals, risk factors, enterprise alternatives, management and labor time,
cash returns and others based upon the farmer's perspective. Functional
analytical approaches to delivering timely and useful economic information
must account for fundamental economic concepts constrained by practical data
and measurement realities where partial budgeting, dominance analysis, graph-
ing, response surface and modified stability analysis may be sufficient and
adequate. Many projects and their resulting technologies are only now ready
for such analysis..-Similarly adapted measurement techniques are presently
emerging in training literature for practitioners.
2. Farmer Acceptance and Returns
During the Green Revolution years of the early and mid 1960s, conventional
agricultural wisdom held that for an improvement to be accepted by farmers it
should result in a 50-100% increase in farmers production (Mosher, 1966).
Others argued that the absolute increase in potential yield was more important
than the percentage increase (Schultz, 1964). Today it is widely accepted
that farmers, as rational decision-makers, will accept and adopt technologies
which 1) improve their system under their particular agro-climatical, biolo-
gical and socio-cultural conditions, 2) do not significantly alter the risk
balance of the particular component (crop or animal) and the system, and 3)
are either cost-free or of very low-cost. A technology that increases yields
by 10%, if such a 10% increase is considered crucial to the household by the
farmer, will be adopted before an improvement that increases yields by 50-100%
at the provincial experiment station, but cannot be shown to do likewise under
typical farmer conditions, or, alternatively increases price and/or production
risk to an unacceptable level in the eyes of the farmers.
While quantitative indicators are troublesome in measuring research impact
because of time, base and imputation constraints, another alternative approach
to evaluating a technology development process is by evaluating farmer accep-
tance. This provides both a measure of success for a technology and for the
institutional configuration that generates that technology. Acceptance ratios
can be applied to technology adapted for extension and to all technologies
evolving from the basic research arena that ultimately become acceptable.
Higher use and acceptance ratios can be achieved when client needs are best
understood within their bio-physical and socio-cultural environments. Imposi-
tion of acceptance ratios to the exclusion of all other considerations, how-
ever, can be detrimental. Basic exploratory research directed toward major
farm level constraints is essential and always accompanied by certain failures
in laboratories and on experiment stations. This is an important purpose of
research, and reduces adaptive on-farm research costs. Thus, the balance is
between basic and adaptive research needs both in terms of technology
development costs and technology acceptance ratios.
3. National Returns
Success can be specified in specific constraint and commodity cases. Not
all applications of FSR/E methodology will appreciably influence national
production. Some, for example, will help small groups of people which in
turn, and in the long run, may improve the health of the agricultural sector.
Measuring returns to research and extension through technological interven-
tions for small and widely diverse farm household applications is more complex
than for large farms where package technologies are more readily adopted.
While it is much easier to measure 50-100% increases in a "tech-pack" approach
applied to fields of a few large landholders, or on plantations, where condi-
tions are quite similar to those encountered on an experiment station, it is
much more difficult to identify and measure increases on numerous small farms
when the agronomic or livestock increase may be limited to 10-15% over a three
to five year period.
Since FSR/E usually is applied to existing research and extension systems,
the approach is not an alternative to the system but a complement and its
value is determined at the margin where the overall research impact is mea-
sured. Quantitative measurement of returns to national agricultural research
investments is difficult at best. Where a research and extension system is
completely reorganized or initially established around an FSR/E approach,
measurement is more direct but even then comparisons with conventional ap-
proaches have major time and location limitations. Two examples of such
reorganization include ICTA in Guatemala (ICTA, 1985), and Lesotho in 1980.
4. rhe Time Frame for Evaluating Returns
While most agree that successful agricultural technology development
requires major time investments, fewer agree on what is an acceptable amount
of time to wait for significant results and what constitutes significant
results. Donors and host country policy-makers of the late 1970s and early
1980s rushed to establish the FSR/E approach. Some acknowledged that even
though the FSR/E approach appeared to be efficient, it would nevertheless take
many years to produce tangible results. Biological and institutional reality
suggest that the impact of FSR/E on research and extension performance is a
10-25 year phenomenon, yet political reality reveals impatience because major
breakthroughs have not resulted from 4-6 year investments.
Acceptable time for development and application of agricultural technology
also depends upon the client. Donors consider time and monetary trade-offs,
while farmers deal primarily with time, risk and family welfare. Time, as a
substitute for, or complement to, other resources, is considered differently
along the client spectrum from donor to farmer. For the farm family at the
edge of starvation time interacts closely with risk. While no improved tech-
nology may mean death in the medium or long-run, the risk of technological
failure can mean death in the short-run also. Relatively minor, but risk
free, technological changes at the margin are more acceptable to most
low-resource farm families while major high yielding breakthroughs that over-
look occasional but complete failures; have had greater institutional appeal.
The time required to achieve either the immediate term goals of a farm
family or the long term goals of donor agencies depends on the knowledge base
of the research system. This base varies greatly by agro-climatic zone,
political unit, socio-cultural system and crop. Ownership of this knowledge
is shared by farmers and research institutions. Any rule of thumb for cost
and time evaluation of technology development must be complex and site
specific. However, research and development resources and time are limited
for low-resource farm families, so every attempt must be made to evaluate and
refine research and extension systems to make best use of time and resources.
Evidence of past experience is interesting, and testifies to the value of
research, but helps little with finite investment decisions. This experience
reveals that many years are required for agricultural research to produce
sustained agricultural development. Since the classical measurement of re-
turns to agricultural research was carried out several decades ago (Griliches,
1957; Griliches, 1958), many others have measured or attempted to measure such
returns (Evenson, et al., 1979; Ruttan, 1982). One reference lists an annual
rate of return to research of between 74-102% (Evenson and Flores, 1978).
Most of these estimates are due to improvements in Asian rice production.
Between the years of 1958 and 1980, there were 33 studies of the productivity
of agricultural research efforts based on the internal rate of return model,
and three more based on benefit-cost analyses (Ruttan, 1982). Some 63 sepa-
rate analyses were conducted. With the exceptions of research on cotton in
Colombia and wheat in Bolivia, all the remaining analyses gave annual internal
rates of return for research dollars spent of between 11-110% (Ruttan, 1982).
The time frame for most of these time series analyses varied but generally
covered many years. Given the relative youth of the FSR/E approach, it may be
10-15 years too early for analyses of the approach in given national programs.
5. Field Introductions of FSR/E and Attendant Costs
The process of introducing FSR/E has taken many forms ranging from the
Addition of one person to complete reorganization and addition of costly
expatriate teams. While the former may require a slow process, the latter is
a shock to any system and may actually hinder the process in the long run.
Some feel that the more rational approach to the introduction of FSR/E is to
start small and build up within the system, allowing for substantial training
and enhancing the national capabilities to manage FSR/E from the start (Stoop,
1985). This approach is more similar to the philosophy of IDRC than to other
donors. For many national programs, particularly in Africa, the lack of a
large cadre of trained professionals sometimes makes a large, externally
funded and externally staffed projects seem the optimal route. Stoop
recommends national leaders to
adopt a policy which gradually introduces on-farm research and a
systems perspective, rather than to create large and separate,
externally-funded "Farming Systems" units, which are not inte-
grated into the existing research structures, and which general-
ly rely on short-term, external funding...such projects often
lead to further "fragmentation" of the national research effort,
while, when foreign funding is exhausted, the projects are often
discontinued because of a lack of local funds (Stoop, 1985).
A major constraint in attempting to follow the "start small" approach is
that in most cases, donor funding is needed, and not all donors have the capa-
city to start small and build as needed. Large, expensive, 3-5 year projects
are more popular among several major donors and this preference influences the
desires of the national program in its planning. Donors need to re-assess the
manner in which FSR/E is funded in national programs and how they can best
support national development of the systems perspective. The thrust behind
FSR/E in many parts of the world and particularly in Africa comes from outside
donors. It is difficult to say whether national programs have no interest in
or knowledge of FSR/E until the donors get involved, or whether initial and
maintainance costs of FSR/E are too high for national research and extension
systems to undertake on their own. Given that for most national agricultural
research and extension systems, 90% of their budget goes to salary (Anderson
and Dillon, 1985), fexible funding for programs requiring high recurrent costs
and considerable mobility is limited. However, "despite strong external
support, FSR/E will not become institutionalized within national agricultural
research and extension systems without strong national commitment and manage-
ment of the FSR/E activities" (Fresco and Poats, 1986).
While specific benefit/cost ratios cannot be calculated for FSR/E projects
or for the approach in general, there are certain items and research/extension
functions which will be affected financially any time FSR/E complements con-
ventional research. The list in Table 4 is drawn mainly from experiences of
the FSSP core staff, but also depends on Galt (1985b).
While these costs do not represent the actual costs nor even all of the
budget categories to be considered in implementing FSR/E activities, they do
give an idea of the relative costs compared to a strictly conventional
TABLE 4. List of Relative Impacts of Adding FSR/E To Conventional Research
Upon Research/Extension Budget Line Items
BUDGET LINE ITEM
(+), DECREASES (-),
OR NO CHANGE (0)
Non-recurrent costs (infrastructure)
Supplies (inputs, implements, tools,
paper, photocopying, etc.)
Temporary assistance enumeratorss, field
trial monitors, research assistants)
Increased research-extension contact (in-
cludes additional meetings, trips to farms, etc.)
Human resources (permanent, line personnel)
Research-extension liason officer
Assistants for on-farm diagnosis and trials
Assistants for station back-up trials
strategy. The important consideration to factor into the equation, however,
is that if FSR/E can facilitate better generation of technology appropriate to
farmers needs, and the conventional system is incapable of achieving this,
then the cost becomes simply the cost of success and, thus, indispensable.
6. The Bottom Line
Three major benefits to farmers from the incorporation of an FSR/E
approach summarize the issue of cost effectiveness. First, because priorities
are based on farmer needs, more relevant technologies are developed. Because
FSR/E is designed to specifically address the needs of low-resource farmers,
the resultant technologies are more likely to be acceptable to these farmers.
Second, because the research to generate technology is done on-farms with
farmers as cooperators, inappropriate solutions are deleted early in the
process and resources are focused on appropriate ventures. Involvement of
farmers in development of the technology means they will have quicker access
to its use. Finally, because FSR/E is meant to be a holistic approach, and it
is moving towards better incorporation of gender and household issues and
methods, it offers the promise of being able to overcome many of the gender
biases inherent in most other agricultural development strategies, and offers
hope that all farmers, male and female, will be considered in the generation
of appropriate technology.
E. Institutional Levels Dealing With FSR/E: Potential For Complementarity
Several institutional levels may employ an FSR/E approach: 1) national
agricultural research programs (NARP), 2) universities, 3) regional agri-
cultural research centers (RARCs), 4) international agricultural research
centers (IARCs), 5) USAID funded collaborative research support programs
(CRSPs), 6) national agricultural extension programs, and 7) private sector
initiatives including farmer associations, supplier and marketing groups, and
PVOs. Each group differs in mandate or function, political base, sources of
funding, degrees of autonomy, and levels of access to and identity with the
ultimate clientele, the farmers. While their contribution is necessary their
respective roles in FSR/E are quite different.
.-An organizational chart which shows the relationship of each institutional
participant to the others is shown in Figure 2. The RARCs, IARCs and CRSPs
all gain access to the farmers only through the national agricultural research
and extension programs or, occasionally an agricultural university. National
instititutions involved in the FSR/E approach are the key to successful agri-
cultural research linkages where access of a given NARP to farmers is through
the provincial and local extension services. Thus, for an innovation from any
source outside of a NARP to receive widespread testing and acceptance by
farmers, it must pass to the farmers through both the NARP and the national,
extension administration at both the provincial and local levels. For feed-
back to accumulate relative to an innovation, it must return through extension
to research and the initial source of the innovation.
1. Comparative Advantages of Various Institutions In Conducting FSR/E
a) National Agricultural Research Programs (NARPs). The NARPs have been
receiving increased attention from the CGIAR since 1978 when the Technical
Advisory Committee (TAC) issued a report critical of the way some IARCs were
"using" NARP staff to meet IARC objectives which were not always the same
priority as NARP objectives. The problem is insufficient resources in general'
for agricultural research programs. Many NARP researchers and administrators
have been compelled to do research in IARC interests in order to do any re-
search at all. An optimal mix of responsibility and resource allocations
among entities in the research and extension process reveals some possible
efficiencies through an FSR/E approach. But generally, there are not
sufficient funds for conducting adequate research on either a global or
NARPs are in a pivotal position of drawing from international research and
working with and through extension to reach farmers. How technology will be
moved to the farm after its development has not been addressed traditionally
by the IARCs, RARCs or CRSPs. FSR/E, utilizing the concept of research
domains across national boundaries, can give direction to these linkages.
International groups can help to coordinate activities in the research domains
within national boundaries and in this way provide for the possibility of
wider ranges of environment applicability of new technology.
All institutions working with FSR/E approaches might bring their research
resources to bear within the NARP to reach the farm level system. IARC or
Figure 2. Institutional relationships.
RARC outreach staff should be given NARP appointments, making more interna-
tional experts responsible to NARPs. The role of the NARP would be directing
the interaction of the IARC outreacher toward solutions of specific problems
of the host country's farmers. Results will feed into international networks
focusing on specific constraints defined by the broad research domain. This
demands additional funds for staffing more IARC outreach personnel positions
and funds for national collaborators. The largest proportional increase in
professional staff employed by the IARCs has been in outreach staff, yet the
need far exceeds response ability. The most successful IARC outreach staff
members operating today do so in a single country setting and often at a
b) National Agricultural University(ies). Many nations (see section II A,
4b) have significant FSR/E thrusts in agricultural universities. Such groups
may or may not have significant contact with the relevant NARP or linkages
with either provincial or local extension (see Figure 2, broken lines).
Efforts for mutual collaboration between the university, NARP, IARCs and RARCs
active in that nation should be pursued. The university, besides a source for
research, also provides for methodological support through state of the art
synthesis and through initial training and continuing education program
There are several cases around the world (eg. Thailand and Nigeria) where
the university FSR/E program is several years older and more experienced than
the NARP. In such cases, the university based programs should be used to
train and orient the indigenous human resources necessary to extend the
approach at the NARP level. Keys to this process are: 1) timing so that
participants for training learn the maximum amount possible in the least
amount of time, and 2) sensitivity to ongoing university programs and calen-
dars so faculty are not overwhelmed with trainees at worst possible times.
c) Regional Agricultural Research Centers (RARCs). The purpose of IARCs
and RARCs is similar: to provide support to national programs where research
results either provide a basis for addressing research domains of regional
proportions, or more basic science support where national programs have
research resource limitations. IARC and RARC involvements reflect how well
this support function is covered and the degree to which each institutional
structure is necessary, complementary or duplicative. This will differ by
region and subregion and possibly by.crops or cropping systems.
RARCs (eg. CATIE in Central America and WARDA in West Africa), are
usually quite sensitive to the needs of each host country of their region
partly due to their small size relative to IARCs and that they recruit staff
largely from within the region. Continued presence of RARC outreach personnel
in a given country is more tenuous than that of IARC outreach staff, since
RARCs usually have.fewer political entrees than IARCs. The funding of RARCs
is not as diverse stable and secure as that of the IARCs.
For RARCs, more emphasis is needed on continuity in farmer-based ap-
proaches to FSR/E while supporting NARPs and drawing support from the relevant
IARCs in the region. The initial screening of IARC materials could be done at
the home base of the RARC and/or placed under the guidance of their outreach
staff. This would lessen some of the load on the NARPs while increasing the
regional liaison/communication role of each RARC.
d) International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs). The IARCs are the
best-endowed organizations of the five groups with respect to both financial
and human resources. IARCs are traditionally funded by a much broader base of
donors than are RARCs. IARCs tend to attract not only highly professional and
competent scientific staffs, but also are usually considered one of the most
desirable places of employment for nationals. Further investments at national
levels are necessary to strengthen the research and extension pool in quantity-
and quality with renumeration commensurate with the important task before
them. The precedent for greater support to NARPs exists where some IARC
outreach staff members work as "employees" of NARPs addressing a mutually
shared priority research problem.
IARCs must balance time and resource allocation between support to
research priorities of given NARPs and to their own mandate of providing
improved germplasm. Some believe that the IARCs, as guardians of inter-
national germplasm, should become more sensitive to the needs of NARPs for the
use of such germplasm (Witt, 1985). Genetic needs for crops X and Y to serve
a client concern must dictate research needs where joint ownership of results
can strengthen applicability within the research resource capabilities of
NARPs and IARCs. Several have written on this subject (see Witt, 1985),
indicating that NARPs are anxious to achieve greater benefit from these
international germ plasm collections through stronger institutional linkages
and improved constraint identification and resolution processes.
e) Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs). Establishment of the
CRSPs and related research policies evolved to address several commodity and
program research support areas not covered by the IARCs. The CRSPs, as a
creation of Title XII, provide a method for tapping the research support base
within the U.S. university:community. As the CRSPs mature, commodity and
functional networks of scientists are emerging in collaboration with IARCs and
with other USAID projects. The farming systems program area is one point of
interface among CRSPs, IARCs and USAID bilateral contracts. Further maturity
and coordination through farming systems methodologies will lead to stronger
linkages along the research spectrum from basic to adaptive.
f) National Agricultural Extension Programs. National extension programs
in Africa differ greatly in quality and structure. Effectiveness relative to
technology transfer depends on quality of the linkage between the extension
program and research. In some instances, particularly where an FSR/E approach
is applied, the research and extension linkage is emerging on a potentially
sound base. The greatest concerns to many agricultural sector leaders with
extension programs are:
Continuing education for extension personnel which often suggests personnel
reductions coupled with better on-going training and support.
Extension methods and structures that apply key communication principles
such as those addressed by T&V;
Message deficiencies, a problem for T&V, which demand improved linkages with
research programs for development of appropriate technology.
Capability to work with both age and gender needs in extension of technolo-
gies and information for women, children and the elderly who have the
greatest impact on food production in Africa and much of the third world.
Often policy issues related to extension institutions are not conducive to
effective technology transfer because extension serves as a political arm of
the government or simply an employment agency. Furthermore, extension may be
so burdened with other activities that the technology development and transfer
role is not served.
g) Private Sector Firms: Farmer, Supplier and Marketing Groups. Farmers
are both participants and clients in the technology development process. They
provide the ultimate test of technology by using or not to using it. But in a
farmer participatory FSR/E program, active involvement comes both at diagnosis
and on-farm testing. Farm level institutions such as input supply groups and
marketing entities round out the infrastructural base that influences the
farmer as a manager of new technology.
Differentiation of the "farmer on-farm research participant" from the
"farmer client" is subtle but critical. Utilization of farm level expertise
in testing and diffusion is essential to successful work by research and
extension institutions. Until the institutional dimension of farming is given
equal berth with the other institutions.discussed herein, many will continue
to consider the farmer as a passive client.
2. Ensuring Complementarity Between Institutional Levels and Approaches
Inter-institutional complementarity among NARPs, RARCs, IARCs and CRSPs
might be assured by fostering a simple, common and agreeable clientele hier-
archy as the agricultural research and extension focus. IARC representatives
have advanced collaboration with a common definition of FSR recently at a
meeting in ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India (ICRISAT, 1986). As this agreement is
operationalized, the amount of appropriate technology generated for the bene-
fit and use of resource-poor farmers of the third world should be augmented.
In Figure 2, farmers were intentionally placed on top as the ultimate
(i.e., most important) clients of both agricultural research and extension
activities. Local extension, provincial research and extension, and the
national research and extension programs are between farmers and international
donors and regional and international research centers. Access to farmers of
any nation is first through local extension, then through provincial research
and extension to which national research and extension have immediate access.
The role of RARCs, IARCs and CRSPs, therefore, is best in support of NARPs.
To assure complementarity among conventional, FSR/E and biotechnology
approaches overall direction should originate around NARP needs, with RARCs,
LARCs, and CRSPs serving those needs. Representatives of various approaches
should understand the financial and human resource constraints under which
each NARP operates. Practitioners of FSR/E would obviously wish to see a
bigger part of the research fund pie devoted to FSR/E activities. But, if
such a move cuts out an essential part of conventional commodity research,
another alternative should be considered unless the commodity research is
totally ineffective. Likewise, if the budget does not allow the addition of a
significant biotechnology component to a NARP without diverting monies from
pilot, or initial, FSR/E areas, or by cutting out necessary conventional re-
search, serious thought should be given to accessing new sources of germplasm
elsewhere such as using RARCs, IARCs, and CRSPs and neighboring countries.
Another key to complementarity is for the relevant RARCs, IARCs and CRSPs
to take simultaneous note of the priorities, needs and thrusts of any given
NARP. One mechanism to facilitate such coordination is a national planning
session with all involved RARCs, IARCs, CRSPs and donors. Such a session
should also involve extension, at least at the national and provincial level.
There would be at least three major goals of the planning session: 1) to
modify past research approaches by incorporating a better strategy to address
the needs of low-resource farmers while maintaining or building a strong con-
ventional research program focused on resource-independent technology genera-
tion; 2) to outline the commitment of the.host government for funding agricul-
tural research and extension in the immediate future; and 3) to allow an
opportunity for the host government and donors to determine acceptable and
compatible agendas of supplementary funding needs, and parcel them out to
various donors for financing.
3. Ensuring the Research Benefits Accrue to Low-Resource Producers
While it is difficult to be sure that benefits of any given agricultural
research approach accrue to limited-resource farmers, it is easier to predict
that many more will if research and extension focus more systematically on
this clientele. For this reason, any approach which focuses on farmer parti-
cipation and problems is bound to have impact at the farm level for that
category of producers. While some FSR/E proponents and practitioners have
been cast as zealots with a missionary spirit and unwilling to compromise
their ideals and approaches, most curre!it FSR/E practitioners are not con-
cerned with the label applied to what they do. The concept of farmer-based
and farmer-relevant interdisciplinary research and extension is what matters.
As in any evolving approach, methods and applications are under careful scru-
tiny and debated at length. However, consensus is evolving quickly and pro-
ductive improvements in method are emerging regularly. For the longer run,
FSR/E as a label will be subsumed under a restrengthened, commodity based,
systematic approach to research and extension. This, however, will be a
modified neo-classical research and extension system.
In those third world countries where the majority of the farmers possess
very limited resources, such an approach will normally focus on solutions of
their problems. Any movement toward a combined approach, which uses the rapid
reconnaissance survey to begin the process, will at least be assured of iden-
tifying a range of relevant problems on which to focus research and policy
efforts. The success of such approaches will depend highly variable biologic,
economic and socio-cultural factors and varied political and human elements
comprising the different organizations and institutions involved in agricul-
tural research and extension processes.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FSR/E STAGES
Diagnosis usually consists of two steps. The first is an inventory of
relevant secondary literature, agricultural production systems, existing
research results and recommendations, input delivery structures, and other
infrastructure in the project area. The second is the determination of needs
and production constraints or problems for defined groups or domains of
farmers. The process of defining groups of farms or domains (Harrington and
Tripp, 1984) is called targeting. "Although the concept of targeting might
seem contrary to the recognition of heterogeneity among farms, it is an es-
sential component of the FSR/E approach. It is not practical to conduct
research tailored specifically to a few individual farmers. On the other
hand, research carried out for farmers in general is unlikely to produce
technologies which are appropriate to all the varied types of farming systems
present" (Wotowiec et al., 1986).
Recently, it has been suggested that FSR/E practitioners progressively
categorize and target farmers and farms progressively into three types of
domains, which differ functionally (Wotowiec et al., 1986). Research domains
target for variability and consist of a problem-focused environmental range
where hypothesized solutions to a defined problem could be applicable and
should be tested (Wotowiec et al., 1986). Recommendation domains are
homogeneous groups of farmers within the research domain who should be able to
use a common technology. They are defined according to the response of a
specific technology to the real agrosocioeconomic conditions found on farms in
the research domain. Experiments located on farms then serve the dual role of
experiential and informational learning (Hildebrand, 1985). These two aspects
of the extension function are carried out more efficiently when OFR is
targeted into existing diffusion domains. Diffusion domains are interpersonal
communication networks through which newly acquired knowledge of agricultural
technologies naturally flows. While farmers involved in research on their own
land are benefiting from experiential learning, others in the diffusion
network benefit from informational learning (Wotowiec et al., 1986).
In diagnosis, various methods of informal, formal, quantitative and
qualitative data collection are used. The procedure developed in Central
America known as the sondeo (Hildebrand, 1981), or the rapid rural appraisal
(Chambers, 1981) are effective diagnostic tools that may be used to define
domains and identify problems. In some areas, domains are not easily dis-
tinguished initially, and definitions are refined as OFR progresses.
Diagnosis has often included more formalized surveys for data gathering;
however, the trend is toward informal methods with complementary and focused
formal surveys to verify informal results or to explore in greater detail some
particular aspect of the farming system. Diagnosis does not take place only
at the start of FSR/E work, but is continually carried out to monitor on-farm
experimentation, gather new information, conduct evaluations, assess impact,
or generate new research directions (Galt, 1985b).
In the design stage, the problems identified in diagnosis are prioritized,
often using a process called "ex-ante analysis" (Mutsaers, 1984). Strategies
are then developed to overcome the priority problems, and an OFR program is
designed using farmer collaborators selected from the appropriate research
domain. Often on-station experiments are also designed in order to research
problems identified during diagnosis for which no immediate potential
solutions are available for testing on-farm. FSR/E, in principle, introduces
changes only at the farm level. Since food production is often constrained by
factors at other levels, such as transportation systems or pricing structures,
the design step can include referrals of identified problems to other research
or development agencies, or to the appropriate government ministry or bureau.
Following design, the testing, monitoring, verification and evaluation of
proposed innovations are conducted in farmers' fields with varying levels of
supervision from researchers or extension agents, or both, and under varying
levels of farmer management and evaluation. Farm-level trials can be classi-
fied in two distinct ways, by function, and management. The function of a
trial relates to its purpose in the FSR/E process. There are three types of
functional trials. (1) Exploratory trials, at the beginning of the process,
are "conducted when little is known about the domain or about possible treat-
ment effects in the domain" (Caldwell, 1986). (2) Refinement trials follow
exploratory trials and usually precede validation trials. They may be either
site-specific (similar to exploratory but including fewer treatments) or
regional (bringing together the best of the site-specific treatments across
the research domain). At the refinement stage, socioeconomic analysis is
added to agronomic analysis (Caldwell, 1986). (3) Validation trials follow
refinement trials and directly precede demonstration trials. These trials
contain one or at most two interventions in large, unreplicated plots, com-
pared quite simply against the farmer's normal practices.
The management of a trial relates to researcher/extension/farmer inter-
actions with respect to control and management of the trial, from planting to
harvest. Again, there are three general types of management trials. (1)
Researcher-implemented, researcher-managed (RIRM) trials are arranged, plant-
ed, monitored, managed and harvested by researchers in farmer's fields. Such
trials represent the most risk to farm households of any trials during the
FSR/E process. Hence, most costs and risks are covered by the research organ-
ization. RIRM trials are most common during the exploratory stage, but may
occur during refinement (Caldwell, 1986). (2) Researcher-implemented, farmer-
managed (RIFM) trials are usually equivalent to superimposed trials. Resear-
chers impose treatments on crops (e.g., a top-dressing of nitrogen fertilizer)
already planted in farmer's fields, or on animals within a farmers herd.
These types of trials are most common during exploratory or refinement stages
(Caldwell, 1986). (3) Farmer-implemented, farmer-managed (FIFM) trials are
common after an intervention proves to be of low risk to the farm household.
FIFM trials are planted, monitored, managed and harvest by the farmer. Farmers
are financially responsible for the trial and any input cost. These types of
trials are most common during validation (Caldwell, 1986).
On-farm and on-station research are complementary in the FSR/E approach,
with success depending on the. linkages of OFR with component and commodity
research. Through farmer participation, farmers provide resources to help
solve their problems and become resources in the evaluation and dissemination
of alternative solutions. Although all farmers normally experiment with
different ideas, they are not professional researchers. Thus, research de-
signs and technologies to be tested must be simple so that farmers will be
able to manage them in the OFR process. This complements the usual farmer
procedure of adopting components rather than complete (and complex) packages
The fourth stage in the FSR/E process is the dissemination of relevant
results to a wider group of households in the appropriate domain via extension
and communication systems. Use of diffusion domains to help locate on-farm
trials and involvement of extension agents throughout the process means that
there is no clear-cut time when research ends and diffusion begins. Farmers
learn how to use potential solutions early in the process because research is
conducted on their farms. As refinements and verification proceed, the force
of diffusion increases, so when active dissemination begins to households not
directly involved in on-farm testing, there is usually already a base of
knowledge about the innovation among these farmers. Likewise, because
extension agents are involved in the research process, they themselves have
contributed to the development of the innovation and have learned how to use
it. They are more confident of its utility, having worked with farmers to
determine its application and success. Although many national agricultural
research and extension systems (NARES) are only in the initial stages of
implementing an FSR/E approach, those further along in the process show that
dissemination of innovations occurs more rapidly with on-farm research due to
the tested and confirmed applicability of the innovation under actual farmer
conditions in the diffusion domain (e.g., see ICT4, 1985).
It is important to reiterate that the steps described above may occur
cyclicly or proceed in a slightly different order (Galt, 1985b). Rhoades
(1982) describes how the process can also begin with on-farm trials to facil-
itate the diagnosis of post-harvest problems. In other instances, a national
program may be doing diagnostic work in one area while completing on-farm
trials in another. Or, both may occur simultaneously in the same area when
different problems are being addressed among the same farmer group. In the
latter example a farmer, grouped into one domain for one identified problem,
may belong to another when a different problem is being addressed. Finally,
it must be emphasized that because both feedback and evaluation are emphasized
at each step in the FSR/E process, ineffective technological avenues can be
identified early before great amounts of money are spent, and the research
effort can be redirected. This is the essence of the flexibility and
iterative nature of the approach.
CASE STUDY: UNITED STATES LAND-GRANT SYSTEM
Curiously, the. Land-Grant system of the United States is probably the
richest FSR/E experience that we know of. FSR/E was so deeply imbedded in the
Land-Grant philosophy, up until the mid-1950's, that workers in the system
never recognized it as a distinct activity separate from the general research-
extension activity. It was not, however, worked into the country's massive i
technical assistance effort to developing countries, as will be explained
later. In the "institutional drift" of the Land-Grant system toward science,
of the last quarter century, the evidence is that the FSR/E approach has
suffered a considerable atrophy. For these reasons there was probably no
alternative but to reinvent the FSR/E wheel, in developing country technical
assistance programs, and it has largely been just that, a re-invention.
The Land-Grant system was staffed almost exclusively by personnel who had
grown up in the very sector the system was designed to serve, so they had a
good knowledge of the farming systems. Further, they had brothers, parents,
cousins, and friends still in the farming sector, and they really cared about
farm family-welfare. The Land-Grant system itself was exceptionally well
linked to its client system. The farmer of those days was an experimental
person and seldom accepted a technological innovation without either trying it
out in his own farming system or. observing it in a similar system. The result
demonstration is widely acclaimed as perhaps the most effective extension
device yet developed. The real role of the extension demonstration, however,
appears to be that it facilitated farmers' experimental processes more than
"showing" them something.
Experiment station workers did some op farm tests, but they did not make
them much of an issue. The branch experiment station was widely used for
geographic area testing and adaptation, and extension workers were as closely
connected to it as were experiment station workers. Extension did report
problems they encountered with their demonstrations, and this feedback
effectively made the "demonstration" into a "field trial."
Finally, the Land-Grant system seldom worried about the research-extension
boundary, and researchers working in the area-speciific research area did a
considerable amount of extension work. Likewise, extension had an experimen-
tal attitude, and some extension workers did considerable experimental work.
Research and extension were not separated until 1910, when the USDA prohi-
bited the use of Hatch Act funds for extension purposes. A federal appropria-
tion for extension was achieved in 1914. The evidence is that this research-
extension split resulted more from a bureaucratic strategy to increase funding
than it did from an inherent philosophical distinction between research and
extension in the technology innovation process. Today,-in the United States
the terms "research" and "extension" refer more to administrative forms than
to process concepts. The research-extension wound in the U. S. system was
rapidly healed by the emergence of the professional category known as the
Even with all these "natural forces" going for it, the Land-Grant system
took some definite steps in the direction of FSR/E. A Cornell University
agronomist, recognizing that special "one issue advice" to the farmer was not
adequate, tried to tie the specialists together into a systems approach and
initiated the field of farm management, one of the ancestors of the modern
discipline of agricultural economics. That effort resulted in farm management
surveys and delimitation of "type of farming areas," reminiscent of the
formal survey and recommendation domain of modern day FSR/E. (Incidently, the
field of rural sociology sprang from agricultural economics and thus traces
its ancestry back to agronomy also.)
In its technical assistance efforts, the U.S. Land-Grant system went into
the developing countries with something of a distinction between research and
extension. Point IV was largely an extension effort. This research-extension
distinction was confounded by another error, the U.S. failure to recognize the
critical role of the extension specialist.
These impact of these errors was exacerbated by another development that
was taking hold in the Land-Grant system about the time the technical assis-
tance activities of the universities was building up. That was the drift
toward science. The system dealt largely with technology until World War II.
Since then the Land-Grant research establishment has placed an increasingly
heavy emphasis on science and has steadily withdrawn from technology develop-
ment. In the meantime, extension has not compensated for this reduced atten-
tion to technology, although there is no conceptual reason why it has not.
Developing country programs made a significant distinction between
research and extension and soon began to use the terms as process concepts.
As process concepts they have no power. This tendency was exacerbated by a
growing professionalism, especially in extension. In a developing country
setting, the most reliable way to distinguish between research and extension
is to keep a safe distance between the activities of the two organizations.
It was clear that the field agent was extension and that the experiment
station worker was research. It was also clear that activity between the
experiment station and the local agent would mess up the jurisdictional
situation. Few of any developing countries have developed the extension
specialist concept to the extent that was critical in tieing the parts of the
system together in the United States. The criticism-that the United States
took the Land-Grant system overseas and found it did not work in the develop-
ing countries rests on a faulty foundation. Some critical components of the
Land-Grant system were not taken overseas.
The Land-Grant system never taught its students about itself, probably
because it did not understand some fundamental and profound processes that
were actually working. As a result Land-Grant college graduates did not
completely share the Land-Grant tradition. It was the Land-Grant graduate
(for example, Donald Winklemann, Peter Hildebrand, Hubert Zandstra, Robert
Hart, Elon Gilbert, and many others) without professional experience in the
system that was largely responsible for the reinvention. They cannot be cri-
ticized for it. Personnel who had professional experience in the Land-Grant
system, for some reason were unable to diagnose the problem and find in their
own tradition a basis for a solution. Professional workers of the system know
it intuitively, not objectively, and as a result they could not help others
adapt it to their own needs. The reinvented FSR/E is recognizable as a dis-
tinct thing, and because it is it will probably not get lost as institutional
concerns drift with the times. It can be useful to the Land-Grant system, now
almost schizophrenic in the face of the science-technology dichotomy, and
perhaps more in need for a sense of direction than it itself recognizes.
A CLARIFICATION OF TERMINOLOGY
Several recent publications have attempted to refine the various defini-
tions of FSR. TAC had been calling for such systematic clarification since
1978 (Dillon et al., 1978), but in the rush to describe field activities, FSR
practitioners spent little effort hammering out a definitive methodological
statement (Bremmer, 1983). In fact, such a stand early on would have contra-
dicted the open experiential process of FSR methodological development. How-
ever, confusion over definitions and the numerous types of activities to which
the term is applied was preventing systematic review and evaluation of its
positive results, and donors were beginning to have second thoughts about the
cost of the approach and their continued support.
Major efforts to clarify and reconcile the various definitions have been
made by Rhoades and Booth (1982), Shaner et al., (1982), Waugh and Hildebrand-
(1983), Fresco (1984), Simmonds (1985), Sands (1985), Stoop (1985), Plucknett
et al., (1986), Norman and Collinson (1985), and Bawden et al., (1985). Each
of their proposed definitional frameworks is summarized briefly in Appendix 4.
Unfortunately, few of the proposed frameworks are equivalent, several intro-
duce latin terms (as if to clarify), and others propose large new sets of
acronyms. Some observers believe that these efforts have muddied the waters
even further. This problem has been compounded by attempts to rewrite the
lexicon and suggesting whole new sets of acronyms. If complete standardization
cannot be achieved, then at minimum, efforts should be made to establish where
equivalent terms or concepts exist (Plucknett et al., 1986).
This presents a dilemma. While consistency is needed to foster continued
external acceptance of FSR (and continued donor support), there is a danger in
cutting off internal creativity as evidenced by the terminological diversity
which drives FSR as a young, dynamic and flexible approach to problem-solving.
In addition, though Plucknett et al., (1986) called for simplification and
standard terms, none of the acronyms they proposed have appeared with any
great frequency in the growing literature now available on FSR.
Aside from the acronym soup, there are three important problems with most
of the proposed definition sets presented in Appendix 4. First, only a few
of the revisions propose an over-arching generic term for the various appli-
cations of the approach (Sands, 1985; Stoop 1985). It is also unclear whether
there are linkages between these applications in terms of setting priorities,
providing additional information, or conducting analysis. Second, several
revisions indicate a distinct separation between research conducted on-farm
and that conducted on-station (Sands, 1985; Plucknett et al., 1986). As
emphasized earlier, OFR does not replace commodity or station-based research.
The objective is complementarity. OFR can play a major role in setting prio-
rities for station-based research and determining parameters for evaluating
potential technologies. The linkages between-the two must be explicit.
Third, none of the sets of definitions deal clearly with the linkages between
research and extension. This problem raises two important questions. If
there is no mechanism to disseminate the results of FSR, then how can the
approach be evaluated in terms of farmer adoption? Will the natural diffusion
of a "good technology" be enough to satisfy the demands of rigorous evalua-
tion, not to mention the demands of agricultural development as a whole?
"Incorporating the [FSR] research results into the extension program has
received lip service, but little real consideration" (Bremmer, 1983).
There are several reasons why extension has not been well-integrated into
FSR. First, with no field-level results forthcoming from FSR, it was easy to
adopt the attitude of worrying about integration when it became a constraint
(Bremner, 1983). Second, a major push behind FSR during the past decade has
come from the IARCs, which explicitly do not work directly with extension.
The focus of all IARCs is research, and their primary clients are the national
agricultural research services (NARS). Some IARCs view their role as "one of
providing research procedures and training, not in developing technologies
themselves ...clients in this work are the national agricultural research
services (NARS)" (CIMMYT, 1986). If the IARCs view their role as one of
training practitioners to use the FSR approach, and yet ignore the national
location of the approach within research and extension systems, then training
is incomplete. Additionally, if FSR calls for a reorientation in how
researchers program their research activities, then it should also call for
reorientation of extension's role. Bremmer (1983) states that regardless of
the FSR style, "it clearly requires that the the extension agent play a more
active role....in other words, it requires them to think...[and]...reverses
the current direction of extension programs in developing countries."
The addition of extension to-FSR is strengthened by a review of national
agricultural research systems of 17 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin
America conducted by ISNAR (Stoop, 1985). One of the conclusions common to
nearly all reviewed countries was that more direct and stronger linkages were
required between research, farmers and extension services. Involving exten-
sion workers in the OFR process eliminates the need to teach them new techno-
logies, encourages them to critically review new technology while it is being
developed, and because they follow the on-farm trials under.local conditions,
"their confidence in making recommendations to growers is greatly enhanced"
(Swisher, 1986). (See Appendix 5).
Based on the issues and concerns raised above, and synthesizing many of
the positive aspects of the various classification schemes proposed, a revised
framework is proposed in Figure 1. Both definitional and functional rela-
tionships are presented in the diagram. In agreement with Sands (1985) and
Stoop (1985), the term "Farming Systems Perspective" (FSP) is used as the
generic cover for all applications. This term is particularly useful because
it does not distinguish between research and extension or crops and livestock,
and accurately underlines the fact that the approach is a perspective for
conducting research and extension, not a substitution for either. All of the
various activities conducted with a Farming Systems Perspective are assembled
under three categories: Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E),
Research on Farming Systems (RFS), and New Farming Systems Development and
Farming Systems Research and Development (NFSD/FSRAD). Each of these can be
considered as approaches using a farming systems perspective.
FSR/E improves upon the original term, FSR, by clearly stating the need
for explicit linkages among and involvement of farming, farmers, researchers
and extension workers in the approach. FSR/E includes all of the previously-
mentioned definitions for FSR conducted in a step-wise, iterative, farmer-
oriented, farmer-involved fashion, based on the existing system and designed
to generate technology appropriate and adaptable to a specific farmer group.
It is also the category singled out by the authors to have the greatest imme-
diate potential for improving the agricultural livelihood of low-resource
farmers, particularly in Africa, whether applied at the level of IARCs, NARES,
aFarming Systems Research and Extension
S Anglophone FSR
*R-D (Theme leger)
"in the small" "wit a pre-
Ipriorities based determined focu
I on diagnosis of
la target area or
specific crop or
component of the
as the priority.I
"Building Upon the System"
"Studying the System"
SNew Farming Systems Development'
I& Farming Systems Research & I
priorities I Francophone R-D (theme
provides > "in the large"
"Replacing the System technically
Figure 1. Approaches using the Farming Systems Perspective. Acronyms are defined in Appendix 4.
FARMING SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE
Food Systems Research
lResearch on Farming Systems
*FSR Sensu strict
or both. FSR/E can operate "in the small" by deriving the focus of activity
from within the system in the course of diagnosis, or "with a predetermined
focus" by moving into the system to research and improve a specific aspect
that was determined before the work was initiated (Norman and Collinson,
1985). Each of the two operating mechanisms have different implications for
gaining leverage in the system and for institutionalization, as will be dis-
cussed later. Whether operated "in the small" or "with a pre-determined
focus," FSR/E can be characterized by the phrase "building upon the system."
Research on Farming Systems (RFS) includes the large body of existing
descriptive and analytical research on farming systems conducted by anthro-
pologists, geographers, and agronomists around the world (such as Ruthenberg,
1980). It also includes current research being done on problem areas which
have been identified through on-farm research. A good example of this is the
research on the consumption linkages within FSR/E (Frankenberger, 1984) and
recent work to clarify and analyze inter- and intra-household dynamics and
gender issues in FSR/E (Poats and Schmink, forthcoming). Simmonds (1985)
gives RFS short shrift, stating that it is "essentially an academic activity
good for generating Ph.D.'s, but not much use to agricultural research."
Simmonds is partially correct in that RFS could be (and often is) construed as
research for research's sake. However, it is precisely the persistent efforts
of the researchers on farming systems who have provided practitioners with
much basic knowledge of the intricacies, complexity, and science of tradi-
tional farming practices. Sondeos, rapid rural appraisals and diagnostic
surveys are feasible primarily because they are built upon the knowledge
gained from RFS. Were it not for the persistent application (applied often
necessarily with a large hammer) of the results from research on gender in
farming systems, this concept would still be one of the serious omissions from
FSR/E. Within the FSP, RFS provides basic information and analysis. RFS can
be characterized by the phrase "studying the system". With better linkages to
-applied activities, RFS can be more focused on priority problems.
NFSD and FSRAD are linked as activities which necessitate a large, macro-
level analysis, seek innovations and interventions which will impact on farm-
ing systems as a whole, or explicitly consider policy implications. This
includes the "theme lourd" approach from the French Recherche-Developpement
(see Appendix 7 for further discussion of francophone approaches.) Norman and
Collinson (1985) have referred to these as "in the large" because in it they
treat "all system parameters as potentially variable in a wide-ranging search
for improvement." Many practitioners discredit this approach saying that it
is "top-down," or impractical because the focus is not step-wise generation of
technology. However, for low-resource farmers in Africa, relocated to new
agricultural areas, and facing severe policy constraints prohibiting the most
effective and efficient use of their resources, or for others confronting
ecological changes beyond their capabilities for adaptation within any
reasonable length of time, NFSD may represent the most appropriate application
of the FSP approach. In the real world, not all changes should or can be
step-wise; many farmers' circumstances cry out for radical alterations,
however difficult they may be to achieve in practice; and there must surely
sometimes be room in agricultural research for something wider and more imagi-
native than the step-wise process, even if the last, is, in real life, the
norm." (Simmonds, 1985). In other respects, until changes are made in the
policy environment to overcome inequities, the most appropriately generated
technology may be of little use. NFSD and FSRAD can be characterized by
"replacing the system--technically or politically."
Some brief comments about OFR/FSP (Collinson, 1982) and Farmer-back-to-
farmer or FBF (Rhoades, 1982) provide insight into two important aspects of
FSR/E. The process of OFR/FSP, shown in Figure 2, exhibits the circularity
and linkages now considered as hallmarks of FSR. OFR/FSP also shows the
necessary and dynamic linkages between on-farm and on-station research.
Station-based research programs need to draw more and more priorities from the
unsolved problems identified by the on-farm part of the research process.
Researchers should be involved in both aspects simultaneously. Hildebrand and
Poey (1985) have demonstrated, using modified stability analysis of on-farm
trials, that it is important to consider station results as one of the many
environments under which a technology is tested. Disciplinary and commodity
or component research are also explicitly linked to on-farm adaptive research
in the diagrammatic representation of OFR/FSP.
The FBF model for generating acceptable technology (Rhoades and Booth,
1982) in Figure 3 also shows circularity, interdisciplinarity, basic and
applied research, and on-station/on-farm linkages. More importantly, the
model makes explicit the need to begin and end with the farmer, and involve
Survey diagnosis of
(1) resource an4 environment
problems and development
problems and possible
(4) new practices and
to farmers' development
arget Group Farmers
of a Recommendation
Domain in a Region 4
tification & Evaluation /
iterials and techniques
ring potential for problem
tion and the exploitation
Experiments on apparently
relevant materials (3)
and techniques under
Body of Knowledge of
materials and techniques (6)
suitable for the climate
and soils of the Region
Commodity and Disciplinary
research, solving priority
technical problems and
new materials and practices
Interactions between Station-based Technical Research and
On-Farm Adaptive research. (From Collinson, 1982)
Basic disciple fe5March
Applied disciplinary rerch
to fmes pobem
1. Diagnosis of farmers poblem
.2 .Intdiscipliury team sesah to solve-
3. Ot.4nm testi" and adaptation
4. Famer evaluation
Common definition of problem by farmers
Identify and develop a potential solution to
better adapt the proposed solution to
Understanding tamer acceptance or ejec-
tion of solution
fmner-backo4farmer -a model for enerain acceptable technology (adapted from
Rhoade and Booth 1m2b).
Figure 3: Farmer-back-to-farmer (FBF) model for
generating acceptable technology (From
Rhoades and Potts., 1985)
farmers in the identification of problems. Explicit also in this model is the
farmer's adoption or rejection of the solution as the criteria for evaluating
technology. Evaluation in FSR/E-often stops short of farmer adoption, using
instead criteria of technological performance under tests of location specifi-
city and farmer management. However, to truly determine the adaptability of a
technology, the approach must be carried forward to determine if and'why (or
why not) technical solution were (or were not) adopted. The process neces-
sarily starts all over again in the event of non-adoption and builds upon the
previous experience, even if it is negative, toward another resolution of the
problem. Learning from what does and doesn't work from the farmer perspective
is a crucial dimension of FBF and FSR/E in general.
1. Fresco (1984) defined three general FSR categories or approaches.
Cropping Systems Research (CSR): which seeks technologies that will
increase production by introducing additional crops, new varieties or improved
management into existing systems.
Anglophone FSR: "which is primarily concerned with the adaptation of
existing agricultural research to provide technology relevant to low resource,
low external input farmers. The emphasis is on the whole farm as a system and
focuses on (1) interdependencies between the components under the control of
members of the farm household and (ii) how these components interact with
physical, biological and socioeconomic factors not under the household's
Francophone FSR: which constitutes an integral part of a long-term,
country-wide rural development effort. The emphasis here lies on developing
the potential of a (sub-) region in which technology provides a starting
point. On the basis of an assessment of this potential, i.e., the maximum
production that can be achieved given the ecological conditions and optimal
input and management levels, this approach defines the steps that will lead
farmers to a complete transformation of their farming systems.
2. Bowden et al, (1985) in reviewing Fresco, proposed that a fundamental
distinction existed between the three categories in terms of perspective and
methodology, and that it reflected a
"fundamental systems concept of emergent properties in hierarchic
relationships. In other words, each of the three types addresses
different levels within a systems hierarchy, extending from the
cropping subsystem through the whole farm to the larger regional
aggregation of farms in conjunction with institutional
infrastructures" (Bowden et al., 1985).
3. Simmonds (1985), for the World Bank, followed with a three part classifi-
cation system, based primarily on work conducted by the IARCs. Since the
influence of IARC thinking is an strong factor in the development and change
of national agricultural research in developing countries, and therefore among
low-resource farmers, the attempts to reconcile the various IARC devinitions
of the approach must be considered:
FSR sensu strict: "is research on farming systems as they exist, their
description, analysis, classification and understanding. It can go to any
depth but typically goes deeply into the agriculture, economics and social
context of the system studied. It is essentially an academic activity good
for generating PH.D.'s but not much use to agricultural research."
On-farm research with a farming systems perspective (OFR/FSP): "starts
from the FSP bit which is just enough FSR sensu strict for the job in hand
(but no more). It uses the FSP to help define the on-farm research (OFR)
necessary for practical progress. It is a 'style' of doing agricultural
research founded on the well-justified assumptions that changes need to be
adapted to the circumstances of their users and that on-station experiments by
no means always predict farm experience. The OFR/FSP 'style' broadly assumes
that progress will be step-wise rather than revolutionary and devotes itself
to a cautious, empirical evolutionary process."
New farming systems development (NFSD): "contrasts with the preceding
in seeking to generate revolution rather than evolution, to build radically
new systems ab initio. It is essentially practically orientated agricultural
research and must (obviously) be founded on at least some FSP (but maybe not
much). It differs from OFR/FSP in degree rather than in anture (both seek to
generate beneficial change) but is necessarily has a lesser OFR component
(indeed it may have almost none)."
4. Sands (1985), on behalf of the CGIAR, followed Simmonds with a more
detailed classification system. Based also on the IARCs, the paper was
commissioned to serve as a guide for discussion of the future of FSR within
the IARCs at an IARC conference held at ICRISAT in early 1986. Sands proposes
to abandon the term "Farming Systems Resarch" because "it is imbued with too
many preconceptions." Research with a Farming Systems Perspective (FSP) is
proposed as the generic term for the approach. She then defines six types of
research activities under the FSP heading:
Farming Systems Analysis (FSA): "the in-depth, quantitative, analysis
of an existing farming system generally resulting in a system model."
(Corresponds to Simmonds FSR sensu stricto)
Farming Systems Adaptive Research (FSAR): "the interdisciplinary,
on-farm, adaptive research activity targeting a defined, relatively
homogeneous group of farming systems." (Corresponds to OFR/FSP, and includes
both Fresco's anglophone category and the cropping systems subsystem.)
Systems Component Basic Resarch (SCBR): "the technical, station-based
research focusing on farm sub-systems or components designed to support FSAR."
(In FSR/E and OFR/FSP, on-farm research and on-station research are seen as
joint pieces of the same process.)
Farming Systems Base Data Analysis (FSBDA): "the analysis of base data
from a designated agro-climatic zone with the two-fold objective of increasing
knowledge of the physical environment of the zone and developing a
classification of major types of farming systems."
New Farming Systems Development (NFSD): "the research programs designed
to create new farming systems rather than modify existing systems through an
evolutionary process." (taken from Simmond's definition).
Farming Systems Research and Agricultural Development (FSRAD): "the
farming systems programs which integrate technological and institutional
change for the agricultural development of a targeted sub-region."
(Corresponds to Fresco's (1984) definition of Francophone FSR or
Sands goes into some detail in the definitions for each type and provides
examples from within the IARC community. However, she argues that all six are
derived from the "post-Green Revolution conceptual shift in agricultural
research and development", and that all share the recognition that small-farm
agriculture in developing countries" requires a different institutional
structure and experimental framework for relevant agricultural research and
technology development." They also share concepts of interdisciplinarity,
systems analysis, and the building upon, and complementarity with, commodity
and disciplinary research. Except for NFSD, all base technology generation
upon knowledge of the existing farming system.
5. Stoop (1986) states that ISNAR will continue to classify FSR approaches in
the manner proposed by Simmonds. He further indicates that ISNAR focuses on
FSP sensu strict and OFR/FSP, and recommends that efforts in NFSD be minimal
on the part of NARS, concentrating resources instead on strengthening disci-
plinary and commodity-oriented programs which would be mutually complementary
to FSP sensu strict and OFR/FSP.
6. Plucknett et al. (1986) argue that the three interlocked multidisciplinary
"activity areas" as defined in the Stripe Review Base Data Analysis,
Research Station Studies, and On-Farm Studies should be maintained as the
classification system. These may be sequential, cyclical or concurrent. They
also strongly disagree with the replacement of "FSR" with "FSP", stating that
FSR, for all its problems, has become a well-recognized "handle" to identify
the important conceptual and methodological breakthroughs embodied in the
7. Rhoades and Potts (1985) define the Farmer-back-to-farmer (FBF) as the
model used by CIP to generate acceptable technology for farmers (See Appendix
3 for a brief description).
8. Hildebrand and Waugh (1983) defined two complementary components within the
larger framework of Farming Systems Research and Development (FSR&D):
The Farming Systems Approach to Infrastructural Support and Policy..
(FSIP): deals with policy, and the variables it treats are mainly outside the
farm gate and involve more social scientists and economists than agro-
biological scientists. The principal product is information and the clients
are policy makers and managers of services and infrastructure.
The Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E): is more micro in
scope and deals mostly with conditions inside the farm gate. It is applied,
farmer oriented research supported by socio-economic sciences in a team effort
which includes extension responsibilities, The principal product is techno-
logy and the primary clients are farmers.
EXTENSION IN FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH
In the traditional research and extension paradigm, extension agents are
viewed as passive recipients of research results, which are forwarded to them
in the form of recommendations. Educating agents about new technologies is
viewed as a separate step in the process of information dissemination. One
result of this paradigm is that considerable energy and money is spent on
agent education sometimes on topics that the agents do not see as useful or
interesting. Another result is that agents often regard recommendations with
skepticism because they do not know how the recommendations were derived or
whether they will prove valid under local conditions.
The FSR/E alleviates these problems. The agent is intimately involved
with researchers and the research process. One result is that their._ awareness
of new technologies is ensured. Agent education becomes part of a continual,
ongoing process. Further, because agents help develop research questions and
because they can see the results of research trials under local conditions,
their confidence in making recommendations to growers is greatly enhanced.
Too often, extension agents function almost entirely in a reactive mode,
responding to both opportunities and problems as they arise on an ad hoc
basis. This hinders the agent's ability to prioritize his or her own activi-
ties. The end result is often that agents are unable to achieve significant
impact in any given sector, even though they may be very helpful to many
farmers and their time may be fully occupied.
For successful program implementation and to achieve measurable impact, a
proactive stance is required. This requires setting both long-term and short-
term goals, prioritizing activities in order to achieve those goals, and
developing measureable objectives by which success can be evaluated. The
FSR/E approach aids in this process because it enables the agent to function
as part of a larger team which supports the agent's efforts. Acting as a
member of a larger team with well defined priorities and objectives, the
agent's ability to prioritize his or her own educational efforts is enhanced
and the tendency for the agents to be left as a single individual, reacting to
their environment on an "on-demand" basis is reduced. (Swisher, 1985)
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN RESEARCH AND EXTENSION IN THE GAMBIA
One example of improved communication between research and extension
appeared at a recent FSR/E workshop in The Gambia, where the beginnings of an
open communication between research and extension personnel were witnessed.
This FSR/E workshop provided the forum for the extension personnel responsible
for implementing field trials to meet for the first time with their research
counterparts in a session in which substantive ideas could be exchanged.
Previously, designs of trials were passed from research to extension with
absolutely no discussion of objectives, justification, methods, rationale,
goals, or experimental design. Extension personnel vividly described their
feeling before the workshop as one of standing under a "concrete hard pan"
between themselves and research: there was literally no communication (Gambia
FSR/E Workshop, June, 1985). Extension was able to use the forum of the
workshop to break through this barrier and establish communication. The
following year, when representatives of both groups were brought together once
more in a follow-up workshop, communication between the two groups was an
on-going process (Gambia FSR/E Workshop, April, 1986).
THE FRENCH RECHERCHE-DEVELOPPEMENT APPROACH
The development of the Research-Development (R-D) approach has been de-
tailed elsewhere (Benoit Cattin and Faye, 1983, Fresco, 1984, Fresco and
Poats, 1986) and is only summarized here. The approach initially began with
disenchantment with the lack of results from French development projects
implemented largely in Senegal, which was the base for much of the French
supported agricultural' research for the former.French colonies of West and
Central Africa. This early work focused'on cash crops and large-scale techni-
cal innovations (introduction of animal traction, animal and variety breeding
programs and cultivation techniques). Though considered failures, important
insights for the recherche-developpement approach were gained from the experi-
ences (Tourte 1971): farmers maximize production within systems geared to the
socioeconomic and ecological environment; research priorities must be defined
with understanding of rural environment and national priorities; the transfer
of research results through the extension service is inadequate, and results
developed in the artificial context of research stations are inappropriate;
technologies must fit within integrated systems; and integrated systems must
be field tested in order to identify constraints in their application.
The experiences of the Unites Experimentales (village-level experimental
units) in Senegal (Benoit-Cattin and Faye, 1982) provided new perspectives on
farmer involvement in experimentation, refined data collection methods, esta-
blished explicit linkages between research and development organization, and
used production systems as the unit of analysis. They also led to the deve-
lopment of two development "themes" which characterize French initiatives
today. These are (1) light innovation (themes legers), and (2) fundamental
innovations (themes lourds). Light innovations.are step-wise incremental
changes in a farming system through the introduction of technologies that do
not alter the fundamental structure of the basic system (i.e., new varieties).
Fundamental innovations form a coherent package aimed at an overall intensi-
fication and profound transformation of traditional production systems (i.e.,
There is also a trend today for French-speaking African practitioners to
use terms (i.e., "Recherche sur les Systemes de Production") which correspond
more directly to the English "FSR". None of these newer alternative terms
explicitly mention extension except as a part of overall development. How-
ever, the current tendency is to be less concerned over the precise terms
used, and to concentrate instead on similarities in concepts, applications,
problems, and results. This was especially evident at the recent West African
Farming Systems Research Network (WAFSRN) meeting in Dakar, Senegal, March,
Current French bilateral initiatives in this area continue to employ the
recherche-developpement term, defined by Billaz and Dufumier (1980) as the
study of the application, on the basis of tests conducted under real physical
and socioeconomic conditions, of technical and social changes, in particular
the intensification of production and the creation of producer organization
and delivery or extension systems. Fresco (1984) and Fresco and Poats (1986)
have pointed out major contributions to FSR/E from the French, and compared
Francophone and Anglophone efforts. Bellon et al. (1985) have reviewed, at a
conceptual level, 4 FSR and 4 R-D projects. However, the former group is
composed of all IARC's (IRRI, CIMMYT-Nairobi, ICARDA and ICRISAT-Burkina Faso)
while the latter is all national programs supported by bilateral assistance
programs (IDESSA-Ivory Coast, Nepal, DRSPR in Southern Mali and Madian-
Salagnac in Haiti). The two groups serve two different primary clientele:
the clientele of the former is largely national researchers, while the clien-
tele of the latter is farmers. As a result, differences between the ap-
proaches advocated within each group are probably due more to their different
respective mandates than to the particular name of the approach.
Though there is growing convergence between the two approaches there are
two key differences between the two groups (Bellon et al., 1985). The first
relates to the time spent on diagnosis. R-D generally calls for a lengthy,
detailed diagnostic phase, often coupled with extensive mapping, surveys,
observations and historical research. FSR/E is viewed as having only a very
rapid diagnosis, after which decisions are made and experiments designed.
Closer study reveals that those in FSR/E spend less time on diagnosis as a
single activity, but move into on-farm experimentation as a way of continuing
diagnosis through monitoring, involving farmers in trials, and involving
researchers and extension agents in farmers' fields. It should be highlighted
that there is little or no explicit attention given to gender issues in R-D,
neither as a diagnostic nor an analytical tool, while FSR/E is beginning to
make headway in this area.
The second key difference is whether the objective is to promote techno-
logy or to promote farmers (peasants). Bellon et al. (1985) argue that FSR/E
is oriented to the former while the R-D is guided by the latter. Again, the
apparent difference may not be inherent in the approach, but in the institu-
tion operating it, particularly iif the institution has a mandate to produce
technology. In R-D, heavier emphasis is placed on the diagnostic phase than
on testing (experimental) activities.
Other experiences in Mali, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Ivory Coast,
Niger and Cameroon, plus project work outside Africa in Nicaragua and Nepal,
have contributed to the current philosophy, methods and concepts embodied in
the R-D approach. R-D is usually viewed as taking a broader perspective
involving both micro and macro issues, rather than being limited to innova-
tions-only at farm level. Concommittantly with identifying production con-
straints at farm level, the approach embodies the development of policies and
methods to improve the socioeconomic conditions of production. The approach
links research and development, but often proposes bypassing traditional
extension systems in favor of the development of farmer groups or collectives
for the purpose of information and technology exchange. Traditional extension
is often viewed as being too hierarchical (GRET, no date).
FSR/E AND IDRC, CANADA
"IDRC has been very strongly committed to FSR for the past 15 years
....it will stay committed for the next 50."
Andrew Ker, IDRC, March 11, 1986
It is important to note the;role that the International Development
Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, has played in promoting the implementation.of
FSR/E approaches in national programs. Though they use the term "cropping
systems" to identify most of the activities they support, the concepts and
philosophy embraced are in keeping with the definition given for FSR/E.
IDRC's position on the role of FSR/E in Africa is strongly tied to their
"bottom-up" philosophy. Rather than attributing Africa's poor adoption of
existing agricultural recommendations solely to infrastructural or extension-
related deficiencies, IDRC points to the need for technology to first fit the
farmers' needs and situation.
At IDRC, cropping systems research resides within the Agriculture, Food
and Nutrition Sciences Division (AFNS), which encourages a systems approach in
all projects in order to ensure that research results benefit intended
beneficiaries (IDRC, 1981). The AFNS systematic approach is intended to
"short circuit" conventional top-down research and requires research to be
undertaken cooperatively with recipients (IDRC, 1981).
.The approach advocated by IDRC is based on the division's early experience
in Colombia during the Caqueza Project, the first farming systems research
project supported by AFNS (Zandstra et al, 1979). These experiences were then
carried to Asia and benefited the development of the Asian Cropping Systems
Network (now the Asian Farming Systems Network). Coming full circle, the
methodologies and experiences refined in Asia are now guiding the definition
and implementation of a steadily increasing number of cropping and farming
systems projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. More recently, this
experience is being shared with national researchers in West Africa.
At a conference in Nairobi, sponsored by IDRC in 1983 (Kirkby, 1984), the
development of programs for cropping systems research or farming systems
research was identified as one of five major trends in food-crop research
during the past decade in the region. The major result of this trend is the
convergence in views and actions between technical scientists and agricultural
economists. Conference participants agreed that the introduction of FSR/E in
the region "represents an attempt to institutionalize a set of procedures for
developing useful new technology that should be more rational and realistic
than if each commodity research program were to continue pursuing, in isola-
tion, a strategy for increasing the production of a particular commodity"
At the conference, participants resolved that better definition of the
roles between commodity teams and FSR/E could come about through the
establishment of cropping improvement coordinating committees (CICC) which
would coordinate, monitor, and evaluate agricultural research. Specifically,
the CICCs would assist in creating and coordinating commodity team cooperation
with farming systems research teams. This model, or variations of it, is
being implemented in several African countries, including Zambia and Malawi.
In keeping with their philosophy, and in contrast to the IARCs and most
other bilateral donor projects, IDRC has placed its emphasis on funding
national researchers to conduct projects. The funding level is considerably
lower than most donor projects in agriculture, primarily because there is
little or no reliance on expatriate teams. IDRC supported activities are
sometimes linked with IARC FSR initiatives, but most of the planning and
implementation of the projects is done with national researchers and a
regional project officer. Occasionally, IDRC has funded an expatriate adviser;
yet national leadership is being developed and the projects retain a strong
national identity, rather than a donor identity. Among over 250 projects
identified in the FSSP inventory of FSR/E projects worldwide, close to 50%
reported some form of support from IDRC (FSSP 1984). The crops and cropping
systems group of AFNS has administered more than 44% of the 400 projects
approved and slightly more than 50% of the total AFNS budget appropriated
during the past decade. The average project cost has been close to $250,000
(Canadian dollars), with an average project duration of 35 months. In the past
decade, projects were supported in 46 countries, 27% in Africa, 25% in Asia,
21% in Latin America, 14% in the Near East and 13% in Canada. Examples of
IDRC-supported projects in Africa with a FSR/E perspective include the
highland maize project in Burundi, the Tanzanian projects based out of
Morogoro University, the efforts in southern Mali in support of the Institut
d'Economie Rurale, on-farm research in Uganda, and the Njala University's
farming systems efforts in Sierra Leone.
POTENTIALS AND LIMITATIONS OF FSR/E FOR PROMOTING OTA'S GOALS OF
LOW-RESOURCE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
While the FSR/E approach is primarily oriented toward addressing the
described needs of any relatively homogeneous group of farmers, FSR/E began
with, and continues to place the greatest emphasis upon, those groups of
small, limited-resource farmers and households. There should be no conflict
between OTA's goals for this group and the FSR/E approach. There are,
however, different potentials and limitations for the FSR/E approach in
helping national agricultural research and extension systems play a lead role
in individual goal achievement.
1) "To Increase People's Quality of Life."
Potentials. FSR/E operates from the premise that increasing productivity
by generating technology appropriate to the needs of farmers will contribute
towards improving the general welfare of farmers and farm families. Because
technology generated in the FSR/E approach'involves farmers, their concerns
regarding the potential impact of the technology.on their quality of life can
be incorporated into the design and testing of technology. In FSR/E, economic
analysis to evaluate the potential of technology to increase income is includ-
ed from the beginning of the process. Overall evaluation of technological
solutions considers the whole system and its interactions with subsystems, and
thus offers a better potential than conventional commodity research for
generating technology that will enhance the quality of farmers life rather
than just the productivity of a single crop.
Limitations. FSR/E cannot solve all problems associated with people's
quality of life. It can contribute, but it is not a panacea. Linkages of
FSR/E with other efforts to improve rural life must be made. FSR/E is not
incompatible with general rural development, and must be viewed as a part of
it, not a replacement. FSR/E has, within the past three years; greatly
enhanced its capability to deal with household and gender issues. Efforts are
being made to disaggregate data and to look more closely at who is doing the
work, who has access to technology and who receives the benefits of better
technology. This methodological improvement is not complete, and not
practiced yet by the majority of practitioners. Training of practitioners in
how to collect and use data on household dynamics and gender in the design,
testing and evaluation of technology is needed. The training case studies
developed by FSSP and the Population Council (Feldstein and Poats, 1985) will
help improve this area. In particular, FSR/E needs this methodological
improvement to better evaluate the potential of new technology to impact
positively on one member of the household and negatively on the other.
FSR/E has not focused much attention on increasing rural employment,
however, practitioners are beginning to measure productivity in terms of
returns to labor and returns to capital, instead of just returns to land in
order to assess what impacts new technology might have for situations of labor
scarcity and labor excess. FSR/E has only begun to conceive of the linkages
within-diagnosis, design and evaluation of technology to consumption and
nutrition issues. Frankenberger (1985) outlines how this can be improved, and
practitioners are experimenting with procedures. Of greater necessity is the
improvement of the general linkages between all agricultural development
(FSR/E included) with efforts to improve rural health and nutrition.
2) "To Reduce Vulnerability."
Potentials. FSR/E can reduce the vulnerability farmers face when adopting
new technologies or.considering changes in their farming system because
farmers are involved themselves in the process of developing the technology.
Because technology is tested and evaluated on farms under farmer management
and by farmers before it is recommended for dessimination, the potential
vulnerability is considered in the development process and the technology can
be altered in order to reduce vulnerability.
Limitations. There are no guarantees in reducing vulnerability. Other
factors and changing ecological, social and political conditions can alter the
potential of a technology to increase (or decrease) farmer vulnerability.
Continued monitoring of new technology through its dissemination to other
farmers will help to evaluate vulnerability. Problems identified, even as
dissemination is underway can be addressed in subsequent stages of diagnosis
and design. Better understanding of gender issues among practitioners will
allow them to better evaluate vulnerability of women farmers in their ability
and willingness to adopt new technology.
3) "To Maintain, Build Upon, and Improve Indigenous Resources and
Potentials. The holistic premise of FSR/E is its greatest potential for
being able to achieve this goal. The interdisciplinarity of FSR/E and strong
inclusion of social scientists in the technology-generating process means that
questions and issues of maintenance and improvement of indigenous systems are
more likely to be addressed than within strict commodity improvement schemes.
Limitations. FSR/E to date, has still largely been based in research
entities focused on crop production. There has been little attention to and
involvement of natural resource conservation and livestock or pastoral
systems, thus questions involving the linkages to and impact at regional and
macro levels has been limited. The French R-D (theme lourd) model does
address these issues and increasing exchange of information between
practitioners will hopefully improve this area. FSR/E practioners are
increasingly addressing the livestock issues and focussing attention on the
linkages between crop and animal production in the diagnosis of problems and
the design of potential solutions. FSSP has sponsored several efforts to
improve the methodology of on-farm experimentation with livestock and is
collaborating closely with ILCA on this topic. Increased attention of FSR/E
practitioners to technologies such as animal traction is also improving the
understanding of relationships between crop production, crop residue use,
labor involved in the care of traction animals, and the management of traction
4) "To Ensure Economic and Environmental Sustainability."
Potentials. The potential of FSR/E to address this goal is the same as
for the previous goal. This potential is enhanced through the linkage of
FSR/E with efforts to look at the larger system (French R-D) or the
development of new farming systems (NFSD).
Limitations. However, the. issue of sustainability in the generation of
new technology has not been a 'strong feature of FSR/E as practiced. Many
FSR/E practitioners do not include the natural system in their analysis of the
impact of new technology, assuming that the new technology impacts only on the
portion of the natural environment which is already used for agricultural
production. Perspectives, concepts and tools from agroforestry and natural
resource conservation are being adopted by some practitioners. Further
communication of these experiences and then training in the necessary skills
will improve the ability of FSR/E to address this goal.
A second area of limitation lies within the diagnostic process itself.
FSR/E "with a pre-determined focus" on specific crops has little likelihood of
addressing larger questions of economic and environmental sustainability.
More emphasis on FSR/E "in the small," especially in national programs, will
improve the ability of FSR/E practitioners to ask questions addressing these
Finally, many FSR/E practitioners have not fully engaged the farmer in the
diagnosis of problems, and therefore indigeneous practices to ensure economic
and environmental sustainability have not been explored. The fact that
farmers themselves may have rational means of addressing these issues, and
that researchers and extension workers can learn these for use in the
improvement of the system as a whole is an area that needs far greater
5) "To Improve the Quantity and Quality of Agricultural Production."
Potentials. This is the overall goal of FSR/E. Because FSR/E specifi-
cally addresses the problems of low-resource farmers, and such farmers in many
countries, especially in Africa, comprise up to 90% of all farmers, FSR/E does
have the potential to contribute substantially to the general improvement of
the quantity and quality of agricultural production.
Limitations. The limitations of FSR/E in terms of this goal are the same
as the limitations and needs for improvement listed under previous goals.
6) "To remove or reduce production, marketing, storage, and
Potentials. FSR/E.is currently applied primarily to the reduction or
elimination of production bottlenecks, and most of the efforts reported to
date deal with this aspect. However, some practitioners are successfully
working with a "food systems" perspective (Rhoades and Potts, 1985) and using
FSR/E methods to improve storage systems, food processing and marketing.
Expansion of the perspective to include the food systems has great potential
for addressing many of the activities that are often the responsibility of
women (food processing, storage, marketing and preparation).
Limitations. More practitioners need to expand their view beyond food
production per se and include accounting and review of technological adjust-
ments for processing, storage, marketing and preparation of food. This expan-
sion will benefit the incorporation of gender issues into FSR/E methodology,
however caution will have to be taken not to assume that these areas are only
the domain of women, nor that women are only involved in these activities.
COUNTRY CASE STUDY: ICTA IN GUATEMALA
In the early 1970's, Guatemala recognized that its "conventional" research
effort was simply not adequate and set out to completely remodel its effort.
It received considerable support, both moral and financial, from the USAID
Mission and the Rockefeller Foundation. The remodelling effort built heavily
on the CIMMT/Rockefeller experience in Puebla, Mexico. Planning extended
over several years, and resulted in ICTA (Instituto de Ciencias y Tecnologia
agricola), oriented heavily to increased production in the small farm sector.
ICTA de-emphasized the terminology and trappings normally associated with
agricultural research. It had no central experiment station, and its regional
stations were called "production centers." It initiated operations in three
regions very different from each other-one in the heavily populated
highlands, one on a land-reform area on the coast where farm size was 25
hectares, and the third in the semi-arid southeast area. Teams were placed in
these regions and were known as "production teams," not research teams. Two
of them were headed by expatriates, one from the United States and one from
Chile. The third was headed by a national.
ICTA strategy recognized Guatemala's resource limitations and-specifically
set out to make full use of international technical resources.It did this for
a few years by expatriate individuals, but ended up contracting from CIMMYT
for maize and CIAT for bean expertise. It planned to develop its own capacity
in economics and social sciences, although in the beginning it depended on
The ICTA experience in a way represented a grand experiment, in making its
original concepts operational. However, it held firm to some key concepts
developed in the developmental phase. One of these was, a sharp, forceful
declaration of mission which was to increase the productivity, production, and
well-being of the small scale farmer. Simply doing research, even good
research, was not enough.
It set out to develop a doctrine among its personnel that reflected its
mission. This doctrine, among other things, included (1) respect for the
farmer as a rational, intelligent human being and (2) a concern for how well
people were doing as farmers. None of the national personnel on the original
production teams had more than a B.S. equivalent, while most of the expatriate
personnel hold PhD's. and ICTA's national researchers had M.S. degrees. The
doctrine also held that the production teams should be respected as intelli-
gent, human beings.
The production centers were literally that. Changing the name was much
more than cosmetic. Also part of the ICTA institutional doctrine was that an
experiment station test of a new technology, including varieties, was not
adequate. The final test had to be made on the farm by farmers. Most re-
search was done on farms and eventually in collaboration with farmers. Guided
by respect for farmers, ICTA personnel identified those who were interested
in experimenting and who could make useful suggestions for experiments.
Commodity and subject matter researchers accustomed to the comforts,
conveniences, and controls of experiment stations fretted under the scheme,
but the concept of working with farmers was held so strongly by ICTA manage-
ment, and supported by donors, that they moved to on-farm research by stages.
At first, they wanted research controls equal to experiment station controls,
and they wanted to control the research program, all according to the
traditions they knew.
While ICTA management held firmly to some critical concepts, it also
provided for considerable participation by its personnel in direction and
policy. A series of meetings between commodity researchers and production
teams led to a type of matrix management. Commodity teams were responsible
for maintaining the integrity of the national commodity research programs.
Production teams were responsible for the integrity of the geographic area
research program. The meeting delt with reporting and analyzing -last seasons
research and planning next season research. The teams had to come to terms
with each other.
In a relatively short time, the commodity teams found they could double or
triple the number of field trials by collaborating with the production teams.
They found they could also get qualitative evaluations and insights from the
production teams who were working closely with farmers that conventional field
data did not provide. As a result, breeders, for example could release varie-
ties more quickly and with more confidence that they had been adequately
tested than without the work of the production teams. Although known as a
production program, the ICTA program played a significant role in accelerating
the CIAT program of breeding bean varieties resistant to the golden mosaic
virus. These varieties have served other CIAT clients.
An evaluation of ICTA made by AID in 1980 indicated that annual returns to
ICTA breeding programs was about 2.5 times the annual ICTA budget. Partly
responsible for that return, however, was a seed processing program that ICTA
developed. ICTA did not produce seed and did not deal in seed. However, it
did provide cleaning and storage services and maintained a limited control
over varietal purity.
ICTA demonstrated several important factors with respect to national
agricultural research development. One was the importance of a clear cut and
firmly held sense of mission that permeated the entire organization and was
supported by doctrine of respect and concern for farmers and a confidence in
technology innovation as a means to assist them. In terms of management and
institutional development it demonstrated the potential of a national system
feeding off of technology from the international network, and it demonstrated
an effective integration of commodity and area specific research. ICTA expe-
rience has also made a very significant contribution to the state of the art
in FSR/E methodology. ICTA never uses the terminology "FSR/E". Yet many of
the accepted FSR/E methodologies were developed in the ICTA program.
Unfortunately, the management and institutional development skills ICTA
developed have not been built into the state of the art. The ICTA experience
demonstrated two serious inadequacies in the area of institutional develop-
ment. Linkages between ICTA and the Extension Service were very slow to
develop. The cause is not determined. In part, ICTA production teams were
operating so close to the farmer that it was doing considerable extension
itself and did not feel the pressure to develop linkages. In part, since much
of ICTA technology was embodied in seed, the seed distribution system was a de
facto extension service.